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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Supreme Court to Review Second Amendment Rights; Working Families Struggle to Survive

Aired November 20, 2007 - 19:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the Supreme Court says it will review Americans' constitutional right to bear arms for the first time in nearly 70 years. The executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre and the lead attorney in the case will be among our guests.
Also rising hardship for a rising number of working men and women in this country and their families, their struggle to survive, completely ignored by political leaders, corporate elites and special interests. That report and disturbing concerns that our military's most sensitive computers are vulnerable to our enemies. We'll have that story and all of the day's news, much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, November 20. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Political gridlock in Washington tonight, Republicans and Democrats pursuing their own agendas at the expense of serving the American people. Senate Democrats using rare political tactics to stop the president from making recess appointments over the Thanksgiving holidays. Democrats accusing the Bush administration of using scare tactics and the political fight over funding our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democrats say White House assertions the military will run out of money are plain wrong. Jamie McIntyre has the report from Washington -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Lou, it's come down to name calling and finger pointing as the Bush administration butts heads with Congress over the Democrat's attempt to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. It's a high stakes game of chicken with U.S. troops at war caught in the middle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon insists unless it gets an immediate cash infusion, it will have to close down bases and lay off some 200,000 government and contract workers beginning mid February. Democrats in Congress say not our fault.

REP. DAVID OBEY (D), WISCONSIN: We have provided the money. The money is not the issue. The issue is that the president is simply refusing to accept the conditions under which the money is provided. MCINTYRE: The House has approved 50 billion of the 178 billion in war funds, but with a timetable requiring most U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq within 14 months by the end of 2008. The president rejects that and the Pentagon says it's left with no choice.

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: He can only keep the Army and Marines afloat for a few -- for a couple of additional weeks. That means the Army will now be able to operate until mid February and the Marines into mid March, but that's it.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: They don't need to do the things. You're missing the point. Because the Pentagon says it, you believe it? You believe what the Pentagon says?

MCINTYRE: Democrats like John Murtha dismissed that as shameless scare tactics. That this briefing chart in which the Army Budget Office claims it will be forced to close child care centers, shut down training ranges, stop custodial services, and counseling for soldiers and their families and even default on NATO treaty obligations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a political document. They're scaring people. They're scaring the families of the troops with this document. That's the thing that's so despicable about what they're doing.

MCINTYRE: But the Pentagon insists it is not crying wolf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These aren't scare tactics. These are the facts.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon says it did find $4.5 billion to keep funding the fight against IEDs, but has no money left to shift around for other programs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: And so the brinkmanship continue with Republicans and the administration accusing the Democrats of playing politics with money for the troops and the Democrats countering that the Pentagon is pedaling horror stories to get a blank check for a war without end and at the moment, Lou, neither side appears to be in a mood to compromise.

DOBBS: Well neither side I think are being exactly straightforward. Have we made an independent determination with of whether or not in point of fact the government, the Pentagon will run out of money if the Congress does not appropriate more?

MCINTYRE: Well there are real legislative restrictions on how the Pentagon can shift funs from one account to another. They can continue to shift money to the front lines by shutting down things in the United States, but it is pretty clear that by February or so, they are going to have to take some very drastic measures. This is not really about the money for the troops. It's really about forcing something on the issue of forcing a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, forcing a timetable and that's why there is this brinkmanship. DOBBS: All right, Jamie. Thank you very much, Jamie McIntyre.

Democrats always on the political offensive tonight trying to stop the president from filling vacant government jobs during the Thanksgiving recess. Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, took action to assure the Senate in at least technical terms stays in session throughout this entire holiday.

Jessica Yellin has a report on more political theater in Washington, D.C.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty good.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not your typical day on the job for a U.S. senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time coming to work actually makes news.

YELLIN: Senator Jim Webb spent approximately 30 seconds on the clock gaveling an empty Senate chamber into session.

(SOUNDS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will come to order.

YELLIN: And then out of session.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate stands in recess until Friday, November 23, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.

YELLIN: All to block President Bush from making so called recess appointments, which are possible when senators are on break for three consecutive days. Democrats say Mr. Bush has gone around the confirmation process too many times, famously with U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. To stop him, they're technically not recessing, instead sending in a lone senator just often enough to keep business going.

SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: I have been enormously frustrated over the past six years at how this administration has inappropriately pushed the envelope of executive power, so I'm really happy about this. I think that the Congress needs to do more of this to reassert the balance between the legislative and executive branches.

YELLIN: Among nominees still awaiting confirmation, controversial surgeon general pick, Dr. James Holsinger, who came under fire for views he expressed on homosexuality. According to the White House, approximately 190 confirmations are pending in the Senate and a spokesperson says since senators aren't really on break, "We encourage them to make the most of this time by holding hearings and votes on these nominations." As for first term Senator Webb, how did you get enlisted for this duty?

WEBB: I'm from Virginia. I'm in town. I'm very junior.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Lou, this tactic is a measure of the mistrust between this Congress and the White House and Democratic leadership here says they can do the same thing over Christmas break if they can't make a deal with President Bush on some of these nominations -- Lou.

DOBBS: A quick question, could Senator Webb in his capacity as the U.S. Senate apparently, could he -- does he hold the power to confirm all of these people? What else could he do as the only person in the Senate?

YELLIN: No, you need the Senate present to hold -- more of the Senate presence to hold those votes. He's really here just to block President Bush. Can't get much done.

DOBBS: I thought that might be the case, but I just had to ask because it's -- you know if the American people aren't ready to just literally, I guess, the revulsion that one feels that watching this kind of theatrics on the part of both the White House and the Democratic leadership in the Congress, I mean this is a pitiful level for us to descend to in this country watching our government behave in this way.

YELLIN: And you actually feel anger on both sides when you talk to either the White House or the Congress about this issue.

DOBBS: I personally just speaking for myself as I often do, I could care less whether these Democrats or Republicans are angry with one another, whether the Senate, the House and the White House are angry with one another because the American people are, as usual, poorly served by both. And this is just a pathetic example in my humble opinion. Jessica, thank you very much for keeping us up-to- date on this bizarre theater -- thanks, Jessica Yellin from Capitol Hill.

As Democrats and Republicans argue their strategies and the course of war funding, two more of our troops were killed in Iraq; the soldiers on a helicopter that crashed southeast of Baghdad. Another 12 soldiers on the helicopter were injured in the crash. The military also saying an airman providing logistic support for our troops was killed in a vehicle accident as they styled (ph) it. Thirty-one of our troops have been killed in the war so far this month; 3,875 of our troops killed since the war began; 28,530 of our troops wounded; 12,764 of them seriously.

Coming up next here rising hardship for our middle class Americans abandoned by political leaders and corporate elites. Christine Romans will have the story -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this year working families will pay more for just about everything they can't live without. A growing number living paycheck to paycheck say they'll have to cut back -- Lou.

DOBBS: Christine, thank you; the report coming up.

And startling new evidence of the vulnerability of our military's computers to potential enemies because of overseas outsourcing. We'll have that report and you won't believe the latest example of bureaucratic bungling at the Department of Homeland Security and this time American lives without question could be at risk. We'll have the report and more next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: A disturbing report tonight from the Department of Defense exposing lapses in national security, the Defense Science Board Task Force reporting that outsourcing of American computer jobs to chief foreign overseas labor market gives enemy nations the opportunity to harm us because former computer specialists can easily put malicious codes into defense software and that, as our Bill Tucker now reports, could create malfunctions in Defense Department systems or shut them down altogether.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is a war going on. It's not being fought with missiles. It's being fought in what flies and controls our missiles and defense systems and it threatens our national security.

The Defense Science Board's Task Force report on the Department of Defense's vulnerability to foreign software makes that point very clear.

Quote, "The combination of DOD's profound and growing dependence upon software and the expanding opportunity for adversaries to introduce malicious code into this software has led to a growing risk to the nation's defense."

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: There's a cyber (INAUDIBLE) in warfare just like there is an air war and a ground war and a sea war that there's an electronic war and it's not even a potential war. It's not even -- it's a war that's going on every day.

TUCKER: And in that war fought with software, the report says we currently hold a strong hand, but industry practices are undermining.

Quote, "The United States retains a pool of talented computer scientists and engineers, but the natural tendency of the industry is to seek the lowest cost supply of talent."

And in seeking that lowest cost, we've lost track of who has written what and where, trusting the intentions of those writing the computer software that ultimately guards our country.

BARRY LYNN, THE NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: One of the things that we've done with our industrial systems and our financial systems is we have engaged in degrees of trust that are absolute. We are more tightly bound to the economy of China than we are to the economy of California at this point.

TUCKER: The Defense Science Board concludes we trust too much and that the DOD must be more vigilant in its monitoring, testing and managing of its software.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: Amazingly, this report was released by the Defense Department in September. It received no media attention. One expert that I spoke with today said the problems uncovered by the Defense Science Board are so huge and complex and frightening, Lou that most people simply don't want to look at the reality and realize what the impact on us and our security is.

DOBBS: Well that's an alarming report, Bill, but also alarming to me is the idea that, (A), this report was released in September and we and other news organizations didn't pick up on it. And that raises a question is that a lapse on the entire national news media or is it a -- was it a planned approach by the Department of Defense?

TUCKER: Well interestingly, this came on our attention because an industry lobbyist contacted a source that I routinely talk with who then forwarded this report on to me last week, so I think this report snuck out pretty much under the radar -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well thank you for that report and the response of government is still -- this administration -- I shouldn't even ask this question. We're talking about the Bush administration, this White House. The response is?

TUCKER: This report was generated by the Department of Defense and Lou, this is the same group, if you remember about a year and a half, two years ago, issued the same kind of report on the problems with microchips that exist.

DOBBS: Right. And I'm sure that those have been resolved by this ever vigilant and committed administration to the nation's security.

TUCKER: I wish I could say so.

DOBBS: Thank you, Bill Tucker. Appreciate it.

Another disturbing example tonight of government bungling and incompetence this time in the Department of Homeland Security. The department has again delayed plans to buy new radiation detection equipment that of course would be used for inspection along our border crossings and at our ports. Critics say the equipment simply does not work.

Jeanne Meserve has our report. Jeanne, what in the world is going on at this pitiful excuse for a Homeland Security Department?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Department of Homeland Security will be deploying the new generation of radiation detection portals later than originally planned and the program will be smaller. There have been a lot of questions about whether these new machines work properly.

The Government Accountability Office raised serious concerns in September that DHS testing of the machines was not objective and rigorous. And Secretary Chertoff now says he will not buy them in large quantities until he knows that they will work when they're deployed at the nation's ports and borders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There shouldn't be when the system is installed you have to have your fingers crossed that it's going to work. You should be confident it's going to work in a real world environment, so before I certify something for production I'm going to want to make sure that the operators are satisfied as well as the scientists that the technology works in real life and not merely in the laboratories.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: When the purchase of the new portals was announced, the price tag was $1.2 billion. Today DHS told me it will only spend less than a third of that, $350 million. A spokeswoman denies it is because of concerns the machines are a bad investment. She says the department has decided to forego what she called bells and whistles like mobile detection machines, but she could not tell me how many machines ultimately the department will buy -- Lou.

DOBBS: Will they tell you how many they will initially buy?

MESERVE: Well they have 55 of them right now. They say they were under a contractual obligation to buy that many. Ten of them are being used for testing. They can't really say what the other 45 are being used for. But once upon a time they talked about buying 1,200 of these. Clearly a budget of $350 million isn't going to do that.

DOBBS: Clearly and also what is clear is that we still will not have borders and ports with cargo coming in that will be inspected for radar detection by these machines, which we anticipated would be in place when originally...

MESERVE: Well originally they thought they were going to unveil them last June. Now there is no date set. I'll tell you though some of the people who have been very critical of the department on this issue say maybe this is a good thing. They are going slow and making sure they work before they spend a whole lot of money on them. If they went ahead and bought them and they didn't work properly, obviously it might have been a waste of money, but secondly, it might have given us a false sense of security.

DOBBS: If anyone has a false sense of security in this country, they're not paying attention to what the Department of Homeland Security is doing and the way it is behaving in our borders and our ports. I take your point, Jeanne. The idea I guess I have is if we're spending 350 million on machines that we don't think will work, at least that's the reason we're not spending the extra billion or almost $1 billion, why bother with the 350 million?

MESERVE: Well that's a real question. I think that they think ultimately they will have some value from these, but the testing is not complete. I have a congressional document that was given to me that says there are hardware and software changes that have to be made and those may not be completed until the spring of 2008.

DOBBS: Jeanne, because I'm such a technological genius, I will point out all I know about is hardware and software, so I don't know what else could be in question.

MESERVE: Yeah, I think that's all there is to it.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Jeanne. We appreciate you staying on top of this. Thank you.

MESERVE: You bet.

DOBBS: As always.

Time now for some of your thoughts; Ben in Indiana said, "Come on Lou, you know as well as all of us it doesn't matter who gets to be president. They all work for the big guys and no longer work for us. So that's why I'm pleading with you to run, run, run, run -- I believe it is four runs. You have my vote whether you like it or not. There is an open slot to fill in and your name will be there on my ballot." Let's kind of be careful as we go forward here.

Bob in Georgia, "Lou, here's another example to show that our government is broken. Our president thinks it is more important to parole two turkeys than two border patrol agents who were just doing their jobs."

And Armin in Connecticut, "Bush's approval rating at 30 percent or less, Senate and congressional approval at about 11 percent -- it's moved up just a little here in the most recent poll. I get the feeling that we have a government against the people. I say vote as an independent and give incumbents the boot." And I think you've got just a terrific idea.

We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book calling for a bit of a revolution and political thinking in this country, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit".

Coming up next, the country's high court to hear a case challenging your constitutional right to bear arms and mine.

And up next, rising energy and home prices, stagnate wages, what in the world is this government doing to help working men and women in this country? We'll have that special report. Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Not the news we needed, gasoline prices on the rise again. AAA reporting gasoline prices have gone up an average of seven cents a gallon over the past two weeks, but it's not just gasoline prices hurting our middle class. While the Bush administration continues to tout a strong economy, middle class Americans are struggling to keep up with rising home and energy costs and as Christine Romans now reports, many middle class Americans face tough decisions on how to cut back on their spending.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Fall brings turning leaves, football season, and holiday planning and rising hardship for many American families.

CHRISTIAN WELLER, CTR. FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Consumers are getting it from all sides this year. They have already high levels of debt. The housing market is substantially weakening. Prices for important items as transformation and food are going up and on top of that the labor market is slowing substantially.

ROMANS: High-energy prices threaten to be the Grinch that steals Thanksgiving 2007, according to a report by the progressive Center for American Progress. Just driving to grandma's house is noticeably more expensive this year. A car trip from Des Moines, Iowa to Chicago this Thanksgiving cost $90.48 round trip, up 34 percent from last year.

In just the past few weeks oil prices up almost 20 percent. Gas prices up 10 percent. At the same time, 47 million in this country have no health insurance. Some 18 million Americans earning at least $50,000 a year go without health insurance. For those with coverage, companies are shifting more of the cost onto their workers. Tuition bills jumped another 6.3 percent this year and food prices are rising about 4.5 percent. But energy prices are the most immediate concern for anyone living paycheck to paycheck.

BILL HAMPEL, CREDIT UNION NATL ASSN.: The middle class consumers are the ones being most affected by the price of energy and they were most likely to mention rising energy costs as the reason to cut their spending.

ROMANS: A survey by credit unions and consumer groups found 42 percent of families earning between 25 and $50,000 say they are forced to cut back this holiday because of high gas prices.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Pulling back at the mall because they're paying more to fill up their tanks and to heat their homes. At the same time, the value of their biggest asset, their house, is falling.

DOBBS: And while all of that is happening to our middle class in this country and everyone else in point of fact, our Congress is on recess and they are playing games with an artificial session. Our White House is -- I mean, this country right now, dealing with these issues, where do you turn for leadership?

ROMANS: Corporate profits remain strong, Lou, because of overseas growth. That is making up for the weakness we're seeing in our own economy.

DOBBS: How terrific. I guess that must be why the stock market is doing so well.

ROMANS: I thought that would make you feel better.

DOBBS: You bet. And so does $72 billion in profits by the three largest oil companies in this country. All right, thanks a lot.

That brings us to the subject of our poll. Will you spend less money this holiday season because of high energy prices, the product safety crisis and the housing market recession? Yes or no. We'd love to hear from you. Please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results upcoming.

Next here, the first Supreme Court fight over the constitutional right to bear arms in nearly 70 years. We'll examine the political and legal issues as the high court takes up this case.

Also a leading Republican presidential candidate invokes NASCAR racing to criticize his Democratic rivals. We'll have that.

And Senator Hillary Clinton facing new questions and some doubts about whether she is trustworthy. We'll have that report and more.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire this Thanksgiving week in the run-up to the first caucus and first primary. Republican Fred Thompson trying to reinforce his conservative credentials in Iowa today, contrasting himself with his Democratic rivals. Thompson calling them NASCAR drivers in training who only know how to turn left. That's not bad, no matter who you're polling for.

And Senator Hillary Clinton rolling out a new ad in New Hampshire, showing what she calls the Republican machine attacking her. That's pretty good too. The commercial points to her Republican critics as a sign of her political strength and experience.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama reaching out to young voters in the most unusual way. Today he told high school students in New Hampshire that when he was their age, he was experimenting with illegal drugs and drinking alcohol. Obama added once he made it to college, he realized he had been wasting his time. All of that, by the way, part of a book he had written earlier. And Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne giving special performances supporting former Senator John Edwards in Iowa. At the time, the Edwards campaign today accused Hillary Clinton of mudslinging. A newly released campaign note matching a recent Clinton attack on Barack Obama with a dictionary definition of mudslinging. You've got to love the campaigns.

The attacks on Senator Clinton are hurting the Democratic frontrunner, however. As our John King now reports, Clinton's poll numbers are weakening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Democratic race is tightening in the early states, and there's fresh evidence questions of trust are taking a toll on the front-runner. In New Hampshire, Senator Hillary Clinton maintains a double-digit lead over closest rival Barack Obama, but her support is down seven points from the last CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll. And in Iowa, it is Obama with a tiny edge in a new "Washington Post"-ABC News poll.

GEOFF GARIN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: From Jimmy Carter's rise in 1976 to Howard Dean's fall in 2004, the Iowa caucuses have been the surprise package of presidential politics.

KING: The new surveys come after weeks of sharper attacks on Senator Clinton.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the American people are looking for right now is straight answers to tough questions. And that is not what we have seen out of Senator Clinton on a host of issues.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The issue is whether we can have a president that can restore trust for the American people.

KING: And the new numbers suggest a toll. In the New Hampshire poll, only 13 percent call her the candidate most honest and trustworthy; 27 percent give Obama that label. And in Iowa, Obama again beats Clinton by 2-1 on the trust question.

GARIN: We have had a period that has really accentuated Obama's strengths and put some focus on Senator Clinton's one big area of vulnerability.

KING: Six weeks to Iowa, Republicans are a little less certain. But for the most part, still betting on Senator Clinton.

WHIT AYRES, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I think that Hillary Clinton is not going to fold even if she does not win Iowa. This is not a family that folds once they take a punch. And I think that Hillary Clinton is still the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: And with the tighter poll numbers come tougher rhetoric, Lou. The candidates, particularly Clinton and Obama, in an all-day long back and forth and back and forth, still going on into the night about foreign policy experience.

DOBBS: It's incredibly the strategy shift here that we're witnessing with Edwards and Obama attacking with great vigor. Edwards, is he moving here as well? It looks like he's actually strengthened a bit.

KING: Edwards has gone down a tad in Iowa. He's about static in New Hampshire. His hope of course is that Obama and Clinton get involved in this and usually, sometimes, the third guy benefits from the dust up.

But look, they believe, they have her back on her heels the first time. Iowa tends to be a place with front-runners stumble. They think, OK, the race is moving now, people are tuning in, six weeks to go. Go after her, this is a test. If you're going to be the front- runner, you're going to have to deal with something like this.

DOBBS: All right, John. As always, thank you, John King.

Still ahead here tonight, more on the nasty attacks in the Democratic presidential campaign. As the first caucus of primary approach, it could be a Supreme Court decision that will go down in history. The justices to decide whether or not you and I have the right to a handgun. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The U.S Supreme Court today set the stage for a potentially monumental historic, legal and political showdown. Supreme Court justices agreeing to decide whether the District of Columbia's sweeping ban against handgun ownership violates the constitutional second amendment, the fundamental right to keep and bear arms. In a moment, I'll be talking with the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association about this controversial case.

But first, let's turn to Alan Gura who is the lead attorney for the District of Columbia resident who challenged this law because he wants to keep handguns in his home for self defense. Good to have you with us.

ALAN GURA, ATTORNEY: Thank you Lou, good evening.

DOBBS: Are you surprised that the high court took up this case?

GURA: No, we're not surprised. This is a historic opportunity for the court to finally resolve a question that has really been bugging people throughout the United States for many years.

Does the second amendment mean what it says? Does it secure an individual right of people to defend themselves and their families in their own homes with ordinary, functional fire arms? We are very pleased that the Supreme Court is taking this opportunity to answer the question and we're fairly encouraged and look forward to the decision.

DOBBS: You have said that you don't understand why the District of Columbia is fighting this because it's not only constitutional, it's been highly ineffective in diminishing crime in the nation's capitol? Why is the district fighting so hard in this case?

GURA: It's almost an article of faith with district government, but you really do have to believe in it because the facts are absolutely outrageous. D.C. is the nation's murder capitol. It almost always leads the United States in murder and violent crime. Disarming the entire law abiding population of the city is not really a way to control crime. It's certainly not a reasonable way to regulate guns. You are leaving honest citizens, people who are law- abiding completely defenseless.

DOBBS: We invited the attorney general of the district, the mayor of Washington, to accept our invitation join us here tonight. They did not. But D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty did make this statement earlier today. "The city counsel enacted the handgun ban more than 30 years ago because it would reduce gun violence. It has saved many lives since then and will continue to do so if allowed to remain in force."

How do you square that statement up with what you just said?

GURA: That statement simply does not reflect the reality of crime in the nation's capitol. The crime rate soared, the murder rate and the violent crime rate soared after the gun ban went into effect and it's still not gone down to the pre-ban levels.

People are afraid in their homes. People have absolutely no ability to defend themselves and their loved ones against violent crime. The criminals don't care about this law. The criminals have persisted in doing what criminals do, which is to terrorize the community, and people are defenseless. I think the mayor's statement is simply detached from reality.

DOBBS: And obviously as the advocate for the plaintiff, you expect that the second amendment will be upheld as prohibiting such bans as the one that D.C. put into effect. Give us your best judgment as to why, very quickly, you think the high court took up this issue right now?

GURA: It's a very important issue. It's one that's unsettled and it's really time for the Supreme Court to address this matter. People need to know, that's what the court is there for. The court is there to vindicate our individual constitutional rights. And we feel confident that it will take this opportunity to do so. The second amendment clearly guarantees individual rights.

DOBBS: Alan, thank you very much - Alan Gura, appreciate it.

Turning now to one of the country's prominent advocates of gun rights, if not the most prominent. person on individual's rights. Wayne LaPierre is the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. And it's good to have you with us. Are you gratified that the high court is taking this up or are you somewhat anxious about the fact they're doing so.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VP, NRA: No, I think this is going to be vindication for millions and millions of Americans all over this country that have known in their heart all along this is an individual right, just like they know food calms their hunger, water quenches their thirst. Then know with a firearm they can protect their families and their lives from bad people. And they know that it's their freedom, it's not the government's.

DOBBS: As you know, this issue is one of the wedge issues certainly in all sorts of campaigns, it certainly will be in the presidential campaign. Do you think that this is going to be prominently placed as one of the top issues for these candidates in both Republican and Democratic parties to pursue?

LAPIERRE: I do, Lou. I think what this does is it centers, front and center, the question of do you agree with Washington D.C. when they seek a form of supremacy that makes the government the only way individuals can seek protection. I mean, they denied citizens the opportunity to own any firearm, rifle, shotgun or handgun, in their home to protect themselves from the people that would do them harm. And every presidential candidate is now going have to answer the question, do you agree with Washington D.C. or not? Is it an individual right or is it as D.C. says, the government's right?

DOBBS: And the high court will be deciding precisely that issue and likely so by next spring. Thank you very much Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. Good to have you here.

LAPIERRE: Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Again, we invited the mayor of Washington, D.C. to join us. Obviously the attorney general of the District of Columbia to join us, and they were unable to make it this evening.

Up next, it's a tight race in Iowa. It's tightening further for those top three Democratic candidates. Three of the best radio talk show hosts join me here to talk politics and other things. We'll also be talking about more trouble for Senator Clinton who has been sliding a bit in polls. Senator Barack Obama, he's moving up a little as he steps up his attacks against Senator Clinton. Is this the beginning of a long-term trend? We'll find out, stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. There in D.C. in our bureau, Wilmer Leon, X.M. Radio. Wilmer, good to have you with us.

Charles Goyette, KFNX Radio. And Charles again, thank you for the wonderful introduction and the moderating job. I don't think I should say moderation. I don't want to attach anything to you. That event when I was there in Phoenix, I appreciate it.

CHARLES GOYETTE, KFNX RADIO: It was fun having you out here. It was good to have you out here, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. And here in New York City, Mark Simone, WABC Radio. Good to have you with us.

MARK SIMONE, WABC RADIO: It's great to be sitting with possibly a future president.

DOBBS: Well, it's just the aura of the thing. I'm sure everybody will adjust.

Wilmer, let's turn to you. We've just been talking with the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre. The lead attorney for the plaintiff in this case. Do you think that the high court will uphold the second amendment or will it uphold D.C.'s ban on guns?

WILMER LEON, X.M. RADIO: Based upon the conservative nature of the court, I think that they will uphold the second amendment. I also would hope that they would also find that taxation with representation is tyranny and grant D.C. citizens voting representation in Congress.

DOBBS: Well, that's great except that isn't the case that they're going to hear, Wilmer. So do you agree with the high court if it does take the decision that you just suggested?

LEON: Actually no, because I don't really believe that the second amendment clearly allows for citizens to carry fire arms. I think that the second part of that sentence was written in the context of needing a militia. And since we have a National Guard, I don't think a militia is necessary.

GOYETTE: Lou, can I have a piece of this? Look the Bill of Rights talks about the right of the people repeatedly. It talks about the right of the people to be armed in the context of the second amendment. It talks about the right to peaceably assemble. It talks about the right of the people to be safe and secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.

And it never says that those rights are conditioned on them being involved in some collective enterprise, like a militia. It says these are the rights of the people and the government cannot take these rights away. And if that's not good enough for you, why don't you look at the ninth amendment that says just because there are some enumerated rights, doesn't mean that the American people don't still have all the other rights that they had to begin with.

LEON: I can just look as it is written in the second amendment and it says in the context of a - in the need of a militia.

DOBBS: Get in there, Mark Simone. You're going to have to adjudicate this in advance of the Supreme Court.

SIMONE: Yes, I understand what our forefathers meant. I understand the right the bear arms. But our forefathers never got a look at modern day Washington, D.C. And it would be great if we could get rid of all these guns but you can't ban them because it's going to be like having a border. This government cannot get rid of guns, just like they can't patrol the border.

DOBBS: Well I disagree with you about one thing. The government can do a lot of things and it should. But it seems to me and I'm going to step into this, if I may, folks. It seems to me pretty clear that if you believe in the constitution, you believe in equal rights, you believe in the assertion of those individual rights and those who would constrain those rights for their purposes, whether it's because it's 21st century Washington D.C. - what other rationalizations and apology are we going to create? The reality is the second amendment is crystal clear. It says you have the right to bear arms.

SIMONE: Well, we banned alcohol, we brought it back. I understand the need to bear arms.

DOBBS: I'm not certain that there is a God-given or constitutional right to drink liquor.

SIMONE: I hope they're not taking that away.

GOYETTE: Hey, don't take away my beer, Loud.

DOBBS: Well we finally get to the rights that affect some people's lives. But the reality is that this is going to be a very important issue.

Let's turn if we may. The fact of the matter is, Senator Clinton is weakening in latest polls. Barack Obama is strengthening, Edwards is sort of drawing up even between Iowa and New Hampshire. What do you make of it?

LEON: Well some of this I think has to do with the difference between the impact that these national debates are having on the national perspective versus the one-on-one politics that you're finding in Iowa and New Hampshire. And Barack Obama and John Edwards do very well in the press the flesh, face to face politics and Senator Clinton does very, very well in the national debate.

DOBBS: Is she in trouble?

LEON: I think she's in a bit of trouble. And I've said for a very long time that we're going to have to wait and see what happens in Iowa before we can really make a determination as to how secure her lead is.

DOBBS: Charles?

GOYETTE: Lou, isn't this a reminder though that something people may have forgotten from the eight Clinton years. Hillary Clinton doesn't wear well. She's suffering from frontrunner syndrome right now.

There's a lot of exposure. She's front and center. Everybody beats on her and so on. But she doesn't wear well. When Bush comes on TV, I avert my eyes. It's like turning away from a train wreck. And if she gets elected, I'm going to have to find the mute button on my TV because can you imagine four years or eight years of her prominent and in your face and on the news every day. And people in Iowa have seen about as much of her as they need.

DOBBS: Which of the candidates in the Democratic Party, Charles, do you find most appealing in terms of the timber of their voices, their demeanor?

GOYETTE: Well, they all come from the Washington party that we've talked about on your show so many times. They're all birds of prey. They all come from the Washington party. And I don't know what the real difference is between Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. To me, they're war-mongers, they're big government people, big political state people. I say a pox on both their houses.

DOBBS: We're going to leave Mark Simone sputtering here before he rejoins us and we will be right back with that.

But first, coming up at the top of the hour, "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez. Rick, what have you got tonight?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's a bombshell. This is from Scott McClellan. He's talking about the people who he worked for at the White House and for the very first time, he seems to be getting ready to reveal in a new book that he's going to put out, Lou, that he felt like he was put in a situation where he had to lie to the American people. And he's naming names for the very first time. We're going to be talking to Christopher Hitchens about that. We're also going to be talking to some real good people who understand this and have covered the White House for a long time.

And then we've got Frank Caliendo. And Frank Caliendo is a guy who's become extremely famous. He may be the best impersonator to come along since some of the great ones. And guess who he talks to? He sends a message to Lou Dobbs on this show. So this is going to be good. You're going to like this.

DOBBS: I'm going to take your word for that. But I always like my message somewhat more direct. But tonight, we'll open negotiations obliquely and indirectly.

SANCHEZ: Did I say nice sweater by the way? Did I say nice sweater?

DOBBS: I thank you very kindly sir, thank you.

Up next, more with our panel. We'll be right back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: We left for break with Mark Simone sputtering at Charles Goyette's analysis. Your turn, Mark.

SIMONE: Well you said I don't see the difference between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. I realize they're both politicians. But one has never been an executive of any kind, even for a second. And one did a brilliant job here in New York City. I mean, do you know what it means to clean up crime in New York? Take a picture of Times Square when Rudy got here and a picture when he left. That's a real accomplishment for an executive.

GOYETTE: Let me tell you something. The United States of America is entering a period of economic turmoil such as we haven't seen in our lifetimes. And neither Rudy Giuliani nor Hillary Clinton have the vaguest idea that they and their parties authored this nor do they have a clue as to what to do about it. They're just both part of the same - different wings of the same bird of prey in that respect.

LEON: I don't know that Abner Louima's family speaks highly of Rudy Giuliani. I don't know that Patrick Dorismond's family speaks highly of Giuliani. I know a lot of firefighters families that don't speak highly of him either. I don't know if they're ready to knight him or give him sainthood yet.

SIMONE: But I don't think Paula Jones family thinks highly of Hillary Clinton either.

GOYETTE: How about Rudy Giuliani naming Bernard Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security? How about that?

SIMONE: Let's take that as an example. Let's take the Clintons. How about naming Web Hubbell to anything? How about Craig Livingstone?

GOYETTE: You can't do that to me. I haven't championed the Clintons to you now, have I?

SIMONE: We're talking about Hillary Clinton versus Rudy Giuliani.

DOBBS: I'm not sure that you gentlemen aren't validating Charles' point there. But as we look at these candidates, one thing that is certainly becoming increasingly clear it seems to me is that illegal immigration is going be a very important element of this campaign. And in point of fact, let's turn to something that just happened here. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the weekend making this comment about border security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: We have a responsibility as a nation to secure the borders. We have a responsibility to do it in a way that does not impede trade, tourism and again the coming together of families, especially now as we go into the holiday season.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Mark Simone?

SIMONE: Tourism? What does that mean? I guess she's talking about illegal tourism. First it was undocumented, now we've got a new phrase, illegal tourism. It annoys me that they keep reminding us that they know what the law should be. If they know it, why don't they do something about it?

GOYETTE: Lou, they're all opportunistic on this issue. I mean, Mitt Romney's trying to write in Iowa. It's just an issue of convenience for them about which they really don't care a lot personally.

LEON: And Rudy wants a virtual fence.

DOBBS: Exactly. HE came out today in point of fact talking about a virtual fence. HE said in some places, a real fence is all right. But he wants a virtual fence. And there is of course Rudy Giuliani. Mark, come on, give the mayor a little support here.

SIMONE: Well unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, he was great on this issue. He was phenomenal for a couple of days. And all of the sudden, his position change. And this virtual fence, I don't like. I mean, you've got a fence and a virtual fence. But I guess when it comes to politics and politicians, it's always a virtual solution to every problem, so why not a virtual fence?

DOBBS: Well it has been in this country for the past 30 years. Wilmer, your thoughts?

LEON: Well, I don't know. Rudy at one point was running a sanctuary city in New York and now he's against illegal immigration. I mean, who knows. Pick a day and we'll see where he stands.

DOBBS: Charles, you get the last word here.

GOYETTE: Yes, I'm afraid if Rudy Giuliani is president, we'll have more than virtual wars. We'll have new wars all over the globe. Great, that's a wonderful idea. That's my last thought.

DOBBS: Charles, thank you. Wilmer, thank you. Mark, thank you. Appreciate it, gentlemen. The results of our poll tonight: 92 percent of you say you will be spending less money this holiday shopping season because of high energy prices, the product safety crisis, those Chinese imports you can read there, particularly toys, and our current housing market recession: 92 percent. Thanks for voting.

We want to take a look at some of your thoughts now.

Bob in Florida said: "For the life of me, I can't quite comprehend why we still have those in this country who still wish to refer to millions of federal lawbreaking individuals as undocumented immigrants. Calling any illegal alien an undocumented immigrant is like calling a drug dealer an undocumented pharmacist."

Kayla in New York: "Lou, I have become very disappointed with the presidential candidates in both parties. I hope you do run for president in '08. It will be the first election I'll be able to vote in and I can't wait to vote."

And Gloria in California: "Hi Lou. A few days ago I registered as an independent, a wonderful feeling of relief knowing that I'm no longer tied to either one of the parties. Now we need a candidate to run on the independent ticket."

And Al in California: "We did it. We are no longer Republicans. We changed our political affiliation today. Please run for president, we need you. God bless you. Now is the time to make history. It feels great to be an independent. Doesn't it?"

And you know this is happening all over the country. I have been going around the country on a listening tour for the past week and a half. And I mean the number of people registering as independent is breathtaking and I think it's going to be historic.

James in Ontario: "Hello Lou. A quick note to let you know that the Mexican illegals who have been made to feel unwelcome in the United States have now begun to take over Canada. The Mexican border stretches all the way to Toronto."

We would have never guessed that that would happen.

Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We appreciate hearing from you. And each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my brand new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit."

And finally tonight, we'd like to congratulate correspondent Lisa Sylvester and her husband T.J. on the birth of their son, Theodore Joseph Tedesco (ph) born on Friday weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces. Lisa, T.J. and Theo, all, we're happy to say, doing well. And congratulations to you all.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez begins right now.

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