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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Democrats Blast Bush and McCain; No Extra oil from Saudi Arabia; Special Interests sue to Block Border Fence; Senators try to Backdoor an Amendment; Army Vet Running for Congress
Aired May 16, 2008 - 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: Thanks, Wolf.
Tonight Senator Obama accusing President Bush of making appalling and divisive attacks against him, accusing Senator McCain of hypocrisy.
Tonight pro amnesty lawmakers are at it again, trying to push their open border agenda through Congress piece by piece with duplicity and without the consent of the people, tonight special interest groups launching their most extensive yet effort -- yet to block more fencing along our border with Mexico.
And Missouri becomes the latest state to take tough action against illegal immigration. We'll have 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 Friday, May 16. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senator Obama today slammed President Bush, accusing him of launching a dishonest attack. Obama said Bush's suggestion that Democrats are appeasing terrorists is untruthful and nothing less than fearmongering. Obama and other Democrats also blasted Senator McCain, accusing him of hypocrisy. They said McCain flip-flopped. McCain, though, said he has never deviated from his position that the United States must not negotiate with terrorists.
We have extensive coverage from the presidential campaign trail.
We begin with Jim Acosta in Portland, Oregon -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, for a Democratic Party in dire need of an injection of unity, this may be just what the doctor ordered.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush was before the Israeli parliament...
ACOSTA (voice-over): Barack Obama's response to what some in Washington are calling the Bush slap was perhaps as close as the Illinois senator comes to saying bring them on. B. OBAMA: They're trying to fool you and trying to scare you, and they're not telling the truth. And the reason is it's because they can't win a foreign policy debate on the merits. It's not going work and it's not going to work this time and it's not going to work this year.
ACOSTA: Campaigning in one of the few remaining primary states, South Dakota, Obama grabbed hold of President Bush's appeasement comments and tried to hog-tie them to John McCain. Obama singled out the Arizona senator's support for the war in Iraq, saying it has emboldened Iran and al Qaeda, noting that Osama bin Laden message had just been posted on several radical Islamist Web sites.
B. OBAMA: Those are the failed policies that John McCain wants to double down on because he still has not spelled out one substantial way in which he would be different from George Bush when it comes to foreign policy.
ACOSTA: The appeasement flap has given the Democratic Party its first real chance to coalesce behind Obama from Senator Joe Biden's take on the uproar...
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: This is (EXPLETIVE DELETED). This is malarkey.
ACOSTA: ... to the more telling response from Clinton herself. She didn't hit Obama on appeasement, she hit the president.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Bush's comparison to any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is defensive and outrageous.
ACOSTA: And at a campaign stop in Oregon she reminded gas-price weary votes of Mr. Bush's close ties with the Saudi royal family.
CLINTON: We're sitting here in this lovely home. President Bush is over in Saudi Arabia, having tea with the Saudi leaders, trying to persuade them to either increase supply or lower price. That's his energy policy. And I don't think it's a good energy policy to depend upon the kindness of the Saudis and the other OPEC nations.
ACOSTA: And Senator Clinton has released a new TV ad here in Oregon. It slams President Bush's No Child Left Behind education policy and doesn't mention Barack Obama by name -- Lou.
DOBBS: Does it mention Senator Ted Kennedy, who worked with President Bush to create the No Child Left Behind?
ACOSTA: It does not do that either, Lou. Actually it's staying out of the fray in terms of that entire policy and who was on which side, but the remarkable contrast that appears to be emerging here, Lou, is that Hillary Clinton is going the positive route with these TV spots, moving forward here, a big contrast from those Osama bin Laden TV spots we saw in Pennsylvania right before that primary. DOBBS: Jim, thank you very much. Jim Acosta.
The Oregon primary coming up Tuesday -- Democrats today accused Senator McCain of the, "ultimate flip-flop", saying McCain reversed course on whether to talk with terrorist group Hamas. In response, the McCain campaign declared there are no inconsistencies whatsoever in McCain's record.
Dana Bash with the McCain campaign now reports from Louisville, Kentucky.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A last minute addition to his speech at the NRA to fire back at Barack Obama.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have some news for Senator Obama. Talking, not even with soaring rhetoric, unconditional -- in unconditional meetings with the man who calls Israel a stinking corpse, and arms terrorists who kill Americans will not convince Iran to give up its nuclear program. It's reckless. It is reckless to suggest that unconditional meetings will advance our interests.
BASH: McCain aides insist they've been itching for this fight with Obama, eager to engage despite a new accusation from Democrats of hypocrisy when it comes to Hamas. Jamie Rubin, a Hillary Clinton supporter, released this interview he conducted with McCain two years ago in Davo (ph), Switzerland.
MCCAIN: Sooner of later, we're going to have to deal with them one way or another. And I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas, but it's a new reality in the Middle East.
BASH: Barack Obama seized on that, blasting McCain for attacking him for wanting to sit down with the leader of Iran.
B. OBAMA: He was actually guilty of the exact same thing that he's accusing me of and in fact was saying that maybe we need to deal with Hamas and that's the kind of hypocrisy that we've been seeing in our foreign policy.
BASH: Riding on his bus McCain insisted his position on Hamas has always been the same. No negotiation until they renounce wanting to destroy Israel.
MCCAIN: That Hamas would have to abandon their terrorist activities and their dedication to the extinction of the state of Israel. It was very clear then and very clear now.
BASH: Trying to back that up the McCain camp points to this 2006 CNN interview conducted within days of Rubin's. MCCAIN: Well hopefully that Hamas now that they are going to govern will be motivated to renounce this commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again, we can resume aid. We can resume the peace process.
BASH: Remember these interviews were done shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian elections. And Lou, the McCain campaign just in the past couple of hours found a link to more of Jamie Rubin's interview from back then and in it, I'll read you a quote from the rest of or at least more of the interview.
And in that quote Senator McCain says, "I think part of the relationship will be dictated by how Hamas acts, not how the United States acts. Now the McCain campaign, as you can imagine, says that this is proof that Senator McCain has been consistent all along.
And I should tell you that CNN asked Jamie Rubin earlier today for the rest of the interview, at least part of transcript and he said didn't have it. He said he only had this particular quote. He said that was e-mailed to him -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well that seems certainly to, as you report, to substantiate precisely what Senator McCain is saying.
BASH: That's what the McCain campaign is insisting and that's why they were, as you can imagine, very eager to send out this e-mail. And I can tell you at the top of the e-mail the subject header said Jamie Rubin lied. They're accusing -- inside the McCain campaign, they're accusing Jamie Rubin of lying tonight, Lou.
BASH: We're going wait to hear back from Jamie Rubin about that charge because as you can imagine that's quite a charge to say somebody lied, but...
DOBBS: It is quite a charge. It is also quite something for someone from another campaign to conflate, both the role of journalism and of course political activism. Let me ask you this. What is -- can we -- if we may, I would like to provide the viewers of this broadcast a link, as you referred to it that would give them the entire context of that interview.
So if we may, I'd like to put that up on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT on loudobbs.com for our viewers' benefit if they would like to use it. Dana, great reporting...
DOBBS: Great reporting and thank you very much.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: President Bush today turned his attention from terrorism to address the rising anger in this country over skyrocketing energy prices. The president today asked Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, to increase production, but Saudi officials told the president they have no intention of doing so.
Ed Henry traveling with the president in the Middle East reports now from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lou, despite getting the red carpet treatment here in Riyadh, President Bush didn't get what he really wanted, major relief for American motorists at the gas pumps. For the second time in four months Saudi's King Abdullah pushed back on U.S. calls for big increases in oil production to deal with the soaring price of a barrel, which reached yet another record on Friday.
Saudi officials though did announce that this month they started production by a more modest 300,000 barrels a day, though that is not expected to put a big dent in the price. Nevertheless, White House officials stressed that the president was reassured that the Saudis are producing all they can to meet demand right now and the officials reiterated Mr. Bush does not have a magic wand to fix this problem, a problem that's only gotten worse since January when King Abdullah rejected another presidential plea.
It's remarkable when you look at the numbers. The price of oil has only shot up since January when the president was last there in Saudi Arabia. Back then oil was at about $92 a barrel. It's gone up now to about 124 to $127 a barrel and gas prices in the United States were at $3.06 a gallon back in mid January, now up to $3.77 a gallon and counting. And with the summer driving season about to start, when there's a lot of vacation driving and like, it's expected that the price could get even higher -- Lou.
DOBBS: Ed, thank you.
Ed Henry reporting from Saudi Arabia.
Senator Clinton today strongly criticized the president's energy policies. She was campaigning in Oregon where she is still campaigning and where soaring fuel costs are a major issue, as in the rest of the country. She's also be campaigning in Kentucky over this weekend. Kentucky and Oregon of course holding their primary election Tuesday next week.
Up next, pro-amnesty lawmakers in Congress still trying to defy the will of people being duplicitous and deceitful, will they ever learn? Probably not.
Kitty Pilgrim will have our report -- Kitty.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, they're at it again. Pro-amnesty senators are trying to slip in new guest worker legislation in the dark of night. We'll have the story -- Lou.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. We look forward to your report.
Also the most extensive effort yet to block the construction of fencing along our border with Mexico, that report.
And one Army veteran so disgusted with our two-party system, he's taking action on his own as an Independent. We'll have his story.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Missouri today became that latest state to approve tough legislation against illegal immigration. Under the new law, which Governor Roy Blunt says he will sign immediately employers could lose their business licenses if they hire illegal aliens. The new law also prohibits illegal aliens from receiving public benefit and bars any Missouri city or town from enacting a sanctuary policy.
The new law requires police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for a crime and it calls for the state police officers to be trained in immigration law enforcement. Governor Matt Blunt pressured the legislature to pass that bill, a spokesman telling us the governor is expected to sign that bill.
There's an aggressive new effort tonight by special interest groups to block the building of that fence along our border of Mexico. A group in Texas, as you might expect, made of primarily of business interests calls itself the Texas Border Coalition and it is suing the federal government. The class action lawsuit accusing Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff of trampling the rights of Texas landowners.
Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Texas Border Coalition certainly looks the part and they say they're all for border security.
MAYOR CHAD FOSTER, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: There is nobody more concerned about border security than those of us that live and raise our families on the Texas border. One thing must be said one size does not fit all. What works in California, Arizona, New Mexico, is not necessarily applicable in the state of Texas.
TUCKER: Because apparently border security and a fence do not mix with business interests along the border in Texas, which is what the Texas Border Coalition is, a coalition of mayors, cities, counties, Chambers of Commerce, and economic development communities along the United States/Mexico border in Texas. They're concerned about antagonizing Mexico. MAYOR RAUL SALINAS, LAREDO, TEXAS: We have 13,000 trucks that are crossing every day to and from Mexico, billions of dollars. Laredo is the number one inland port. What are you saying to your trading partners?
TUCKER: The coalition has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C.
PETER SCHEY, LEAD COUNSEL, TBC: We intend to seek an injunction and (INAUDIBLE) relief through this litigation. We hope that we are able to bring this lawless conduct to build the wall into conformity with both federal statutes and the United States Constitution.
TUCKER: Secretary Chertoff reacted sharply to the lawsuit and charges that he and his office have refused to work in a cooperative way with the people in the communities on the border in Texas.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We've had dozens of town hall meetings. We've had constant and consistent efforts at engaging with the public. Now what we haven't done is we haven't given everybody a veto.
TUCKER: Secretary Chertoff termed the fence a tool for law enforcement to fight the gun-running drug smuggling and human trafficking along the border.
TUCKER: And Chertoff also noted that Congress mandated the fence and that he built it. He went on to say he is committed to enforcing the laws directed to border security, which he did note might come as a surprise to some people as those laws have been ignored for some time now -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well as Secretary Chertoff knows it won't come to a surprise to anyone associated with this broadcast, we've been reporting exactly that for years now. I would like to say and this is only my opinion, not associated with anyone else's that the mayor of Laredo, Mayor Salinas, what do you say he asked to trading partners?
I would like to ask Mayor Salinas what he says to his fellow Americans and the 300 million Americans who are watching the major portion of all of the major drugs coming into this country originate in Mexico and cross that border, and Mayor Salinas and the fellow that had the hat there in the pictures, from Eagle Pass, the mayor, I would like to say, Mayor, you know, that's a mighty big hat and you need to grow into it and act like an American citizen with responsibilities to your fellow citizens because point blank, Partner, you're responsible for making it absolutely a critical issue for millions of young Americans who are succumbing to the devastation and sometimes the death of illegal drugs crossing that border.
And there is an issue as well. Human smuggling it's not legal, Partner, and it's about time, Partner, you join the rest of this country and concern yourself with the national interest and not your trading partners, Partner. I'd appreciate it if you would just think about it.
Well thank you, Bill Tucker.
Pro-amnesty senators tonight making a new effort to ram their open border's agenda down the throats of the American people, now let's go back to June 28, 2007 when the American people made their views known to the United States Senate and the closer vote failed. It was very clear at that point what the will of the majority in this country was, but now two senators, Dianne Feinstein (ph) and Larry Craig suddenly have added an amendment that would provide amnesty for illegal alien farm workers in this country, they and their family amounting to some three million people.
And they're putting this little number into a bill funding the war in Iraq. You're not supposed to notice. We're not supposed to notice. And the American people are not supposed to notice. These two senators added the amendment in the dark of night, and they did so without debate. They're duplicitous, deceitful, and absolutely dishonorable in doing so.
Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
PILGRIM (voice-over): This meeting yesterday at the Senate Appropriations Committee convened to vote on funding U.S. spending in Iraq. But late in the day 100 pages were added to the bill that would make an estimated three million people illegal alien farm workers and their families eligible to work in the United States and it passed 17 to 12.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R), ALABAMA: Why would they stick it on a war supplemental? That is a deliberate attempt to bypass scrutiny and to see if they can slide it through without the American people realizing what's happening, on a bill that we really need to pass.
PILGRIM: The supporters of the AG Jobs (ph) Measure, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Larry Craig proposed a program they claim is needed to keep farms operating. Illegal aliens who have either worked for 150 days in agriculture or have earned $7,000 since January 2004 would qualify for a five-year amnesty.
Another measure added by Senator Barbara McCulsky that would open the door to low skilled nonagricultural workers. It would allow anyone who worked on the H2B work visa for the last three years to return for another year without being counted in the annual quota. Groups opposed to this legislation are up in arms.
STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: It's striking how something this controversial and really this important for the country can be put in, in this way without any really public disclosure and discourse and debate. It seems to be the worst aspect of special interest politics.
PILGRIM: Senator Jeff Sessions' office calculates the H2B visa revision could bring in a million more low skilled foreign workers over the next three years.
PILGRIM: Now this is expected to come to the floor early next week for debate and a vote. Senator Feinstein says it's an emergency to get this passed. And they say it's clear they want to attach it to one of the few pieces of legislation likely to become a law before November.
DOBBS: Let me be clear again, this is only my opinion, not CNN's or anyone else's. But I think this is politics at its dirtiest, its worst, its most duplicitous. And Senator Feinstein I frankly thought was a legislator with more character, more honor. And to be involved in this is utterly just absurd.
PILGRIM: Many of the people we spoke today say it is an absolute abuse of the appropriation process.
DOBBS: It is an abuse and you know what, Senator Harry Reid, I want to remind the Democratic leadership if I may that they are the ones who talked about a culture of corruption in the midterm election campaign in 2006. And I want to congratulate Senator Harry Reid, because you have, I think, in many respects met and outdone the standard set by the Republican leadership when they were in charge in 2006.
You're just as duplicitous, disgusting and absolutely indifferent to the interests of this country as the Republican leadership, so you should be proud. You've kept the culture of corruption alive and well in our nation's Capitol. I just hope that somebody, somebody in this country finally gets a belly full of your nonsense. Because this country needs far better than what we're getting from these two political parties.
Kitty thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.
I'll have more opinions, they'll be mine as well and only mine as we continue here.
Senator Obama today apologizing to a reporter calling her sweetie -- I mean this is really bad stuff. Good thing he stepped up and apologized. We'll be talking with three of the best political analysts in the country -- oh I love it when political correctness gets its way.
And it's Independents Day (ph) for one U.S. Army veteran. He's fed up with our broken two-party system and by the way, he's not kidding himself about any of this stuff. He knows it's broken, but he's not just complaining. He's doing something about it. Is that perhaps something of a guidepost for the rest of us? We'll have his story next.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: We report here almost every night on our broken two-party political system in this country and its utter failure to serve the national interests and American citizens. Tonight one young Army veteran is standing up. He's not just talking. He's doing something. He's personally challenging the Republican and Democratic political machines; he's running for Congress as a proud Independent.
Casey Wian has his story from Sierra Vista, Arizona.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Derek Tidball is a 29-year-old former Army paratrooper, who saw action in Afghanistan. He left the military last January and was disturbed by the medical and economic struggles of returning veterans.
DEREK TIDBALL (I), ARIZONA CONG. CANDIDATE: Most of us who have fought are not being taken care of when we come back. And the reason for that might not be a lack of sincerity from legislators, but it's just lack of knowledge.
WIAN: So he decided to run for Congress as an Independent.
TIDBALL: I think that the two-party system is a real problem for lack of leadership is something that's really standing out in the minds of the American public today with who there are putting up in office and who's being chosen to be their options and I believe that this is the one job where your resume having a bad resume is worse than having no resume.
WIAN: Tidball is running for Arizona's eighth congressional district seat now held by Democratic Gabrielle Giffords. Tim Bee, the Republican leader of the Arizona State Senate also is running. Tidball's tiny campaign staff meets weekly to strategize at a local pub.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really need to focus on (INAUDIBLE) walk neighborhoods.
WIAN: His campaign is clearly a long shot, but Tidball says he has advantages. Arizona's Eighth District has two military bases and shares about 100 miles of border with Mexico.
TIDBALL: Down on the border (INAUDIBLE) unhappy with what's going on right now. I like the idea of enforcement first. I think that there needs to be a large mobilization of the troops down here.
WIAN: Tidball says elected officials need a military style accountability for results and failure.
TIDBALL: They serve the people. They don't serve money and you know party leaders and that's what it's going to take I think is a lot of Independents running to give them a run for their money and make them have to be accountable for what they say.
WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Sierra Vista, Arizona. (END VIDEOTAPE)
DOBBS: Derek Tidball says his military experience and his military mindset will serve him well in politics. In the military he says there are no excuses and there is no passing the buck. You either meet the task or suffer the consequences, good advice and accountability would be a nice, nice element to bring to Washington, D.C.
Time now for our poll. Our question tonight is: Do you believe that an increase in the number of Independent members of Congress would lead to greater accountability?
We'd like to hear from you, yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.
Let's take a look at some of your thoughts.
Steve in New York said: "Lou, we now have the two leading presidential candidates supporting some form of amnesty. I guess that light at the end of the tunnel is another train."
Richard in Virginia: "I'm a Democratic, a pro-life, law and order Democratic who wants nothing to do with immigration reform. I prefer immigration enforcement. What do you think, Lou? Time to become an Independent?"
As you might guess, I do think it's time.
Charles in Tennessee: "Lou, I'm blue-collar, my father was blue- collar, and I have a son who is blue-collar as well. If the companies in this country would just give us the chance and spend the money on the tools and supplies I need to do my job, I'll do the work of ten workers from any other country in the world. We have done it before. We can do it again, but these companies need to give us the opportunity."
Let's hope they're listening, because you're exactly right. It's what makes America work. We'll have more of your thoughts here later. And a reminder to please join me on the radio Monday through Friday afternoons for "The Lou Dobbs Show", Monday my guests include Charles Morris, author of "Trillion-Dollar Meltdown," Ann Schroeder, politico.com, Michael Goodwin, "New York Daily News" and former presidential candidate and former governor Mike Huckabee. So please go to loudobbsradio.com for the local listings of the "Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.
And Bakersfield, California facing an invasion of frogs. Thousands of tiny little frogs hopping through Bakersfield neighborhoods. Residents say these frogs started migrating from drainage pumps around the town. They're looking, we're told reliably, for food and dry land. A local pest control expert is analyzing what is going on here.
And as long as we're talking about frogs, well, we are talking about frogs, aren't we, a biologist in British Columbia now says bullfrogs may be responsible for a global die-off of other amphibians. The scientist says bullfrogs may be immune to a deadly mole that they say are spreading among other frogs, toads and salamanders. We promise you, no more pictures.
Up next, President Bush blasting Democrats, including Senator Obama, apparently. The president says they're no better than World War II appeasers of Adolf Hitler. The Democrats don't like that and they strike back. They are accusing Senator McCain of a flip-flip. What could worse than a flip-flop? I mean, this presidential campaign is really elevated now, isn't it? We'll be talking about that with three of the best political analysts.
And what's left of the middle class resorting to desperate measures to survive this slowdown in our economy. Or is it a recession? We'll have that report and a great deal more.
Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBS: Joining me now, three of the best political analysts in the country and CNN contributors all. Republican strategist Ed Rollins, former White House political director, former chairman of the Mike Huckabee for President campaign.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, "New York Daily News," Michael Goodwin.
And Democratic strategist, national Democratic committeeman, Robert Zimmerman, Hillary Clinton supporter, superdelegate, did I mention that? You appeaser, you.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, CLINTON SUPPORTER: You didn't say elitist.
DOBBS: What do you make of the fact that your candidate's rival is an appeaser?
ZIMMERMAN: Let me be real clear about this.
DOBBS: I thought you might be.
ZIMMERMAN: First of all, all three of them stand strongly against terrorism. That's not even on the table. The issue is the abject failure of the Bush foreign policy and the fact is he's attacking them for a policy he's implemented. Not to mention he has our government talking within Iran, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Bonn, Germany.
DOBBS: How about Hamas?
ZIMMERMAN: He's had our government engaged in discussions there. He is also had, for that matter ...
DOBBS: Are you calling him a hypocrite?
ZIMMERMAN: More than a hypocrite. DOBBS: What's worse than a hypocrite?
ZIMMERMAN: I'm saying that he's endangered American security. In fact, his own people admit, producing more terrorists than he's killing.
DOBBS: I'm going turn to Ed Rollins to see if there is any defense at all to these allegations.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I am very pleased to hear. Your foreign policy is no longer drop the guns and run policy it's been for the last five or six years?
ZIMMERMAN: That's a line from 20 years ago.
ROLLINS: It's still unfortunately practiced by your party and I think it is a very legitimate debate. I think the terminologies that the president used were misused and shouldn't have been used, particularly in the setting. But I think the debate is a very fair debate and it's one this country deserves.
DOBBS: By the way, the White House says they were not talking about Barack Obama, my goodness, Robert, I don't understand the reaction, because they said they were just talking about President Jimmy Carter.
ZIMMERMAN: When the administration officials were asked is Barack Obama included? None of them went out of the way to discourage the press from focusing on Barack Obama. He demeaned his office and he embarrassed our country with that kind of partisan politics overseas.
ROLLINS: Are you still talking about Jimmy Carter? Or ..
ZIMMERMAN: I'm talking about the president. And you know something, Ed ...
DOBBS: You can just say "presidents" and we'll be done.
ZIMMERMAN: Ed makes a very important point. We need a very productive debate on this topic. The administration has lost all credibility in making that debate.
DOBBS: OK. Michael Goodwin, you get to break the tie here.
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": All right.
DOBBS: In addition, Jamie Rubin writing - and he is a Senator Hillary Clinton supporter we should point out, writing a piece suggesting that Senator McCain had in 2006 basically said the same thing. A review of the record that Dana Bash reported says it's not the case at all. And point of fact substantiates McCain's position. That he's been consistent throughout.
GOODWIN: I think there are two different positions here that the parties are espousing. The problem for the Republicans, of course, is that their policies have failed. Although we must say that we have not been attacked here at home since 9/11. And I think some credit is due that.
On the other hand, in terms of Iran ...
DOBBS: By the way, if you're to have a silver lining, that's a critically important one.
GOODWIN: Absolutely. And in terms of Iran, I think that's the key here. Because Iran, of course, is the sponsor of Hamas and Hezbollah. And Obama's idea that he will meet with Ahmadinejad without prior conditions is a clear mistake for him to have said that. And that's what this is about. That is the "appeasement" issue in a nutshell.
ROLLINS: It's also an experience issue. I think this is a guy who has been in the Senate for two and a half years. Has no foreign policy credentials. He barely knows the name of the people. And I think to a certain extent making that kind of commitment was a foolish thing and I think obviously will change ...
ZIMMERMAN: I don't agree with his position about meeting with Ahmadinejad. It's important to remind you that ...
DOBBS: I want to remind you that your candidate was the first to criticize him for his position.
ZIMMERMAN: I happen to not agree with that position. But just having a dialogue does not mean we're taking the word no out of the vocabulary as Joe Biden pointed out. Diplomacy ...
DOBBS: Just say no doesn't work in international relations?
ZIMMERMAN: In this administration it hasn't worked, that's for sure.
GOODWIN: But really, it's beyond that. Because what Obama says about these meetings and what he said about Lebanon in his statement the other day. What Hezbollah really wants is jobs, political reform, a better -- He views these groups, he views terror groups as just another special interest in Washington. That's not what they're about. They're about the destruction of Israel, destruction of the West. They're about an Islamic caliphate.
DOBBS: However this resolves, if it does indeed resolve itself over the next days and weeks, this flare-up between the two, and we saw the reaction from the Democratic Party, whatever else may be said, President Bush succeed in creating a flare for the Jewish and Israeli interests in this country that is going to -- I suspect will require significant correction by the Obama campaign.
We're going continue in just one moment. And when we do, we're going to be talking about Senator Obama's wife. She is the focus of a Tennessee Republican ad. We'll have that. Also, middle class Americans relying on payday loans just to survive. That story and a great deal more straight ahead. More with our panel in just a moment.
DOBBS: Well, we're back with Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin, Robert Zimmerman and in Tennessee the Republicans there - I mean they are going after Michelle Obama and her comment that she is for the first time in her adult life ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: I am proud of my country.
ANNOUNCER: For Michelle Obama's visit to Nashville, we're asking local Nashvilleans to list a few times they've been proud of their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: For the first time in her adult life, proud to be an American. Ed Rollins, is that dirty pool?
ROLLINS: It's not an ad I would use but it's certainly an ad you're going to see a lot. I think there's a lot of people who want to know she is and I've said oftentimes on this show, there's a lot about him they don't know and they're going to get to know him by the people around him and his wife is a very instrumental person.
DOBBS: Do you agree?
GOODWIN: I think it's not a dirty pool ad but it may be risky politically because it may backfire, because you're going after a candidate's wife ...
DOBBS: How might it backfire?
GOODWIN: You're going after a candidate's wife.
DOBBS: Well, she said it campaigning for her husband.
GOODWIN: Absolutely. And that's why it's legitimate. The question is does it work? That'll be the test.
DOBBS: What do you think?
ZIMMERMAN: It's called character assassination. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the second ad the local Republican parties have launched against Barack and Michelle Obama and of course John McCain tries to stay above the fray but this is typical Karl Rove political tactics.
DOBBS: Karl Rove, we haven't heard his name in a while.
ROLLINS: He's on the Fox Network.
ZIMMERMAN: The tactics live on forever. DOBBS: Well, let's talk about tactics that aren't working as well. And that is the spectacle of seeing a sitting president of the United States talking to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, begging for more oil.
ROLLINS: Being treated like the Democrats treated him. He was rejected outright.
DOBBS: For the second time this year.
ROLLINS: Why would you go there if you didn't know the answer to the question? Diplomacy is about sending somewhere there to find out, you go and make that kind of a presentation when you basically know what the answer is.
DOBBS: Is there some point at which - your thoughts, Michael.
GOODWIN: It's also bizarre to request more production. Because fundamentally I think everyone agrees now that the price is not simply a reflection of price and demand - or supply and demand. That there is a premium built in. It has a terror premium, a speculation premium, there are issues ...
DOBBS: It may be the conventional thinking, I think it's mistake frankly, the conventional wisdom. I believe that you're seeing immense competition for a scarce resource that's going to continue to drive these prices higher and you're dealing with an oligopoly and the cartel of OPEC.
But does it not disturb anyone to see a sitting president begging and some - and by the way, I'm sorry King Abdullah, but as far as I'm concerned, you're a pipsqueak with a squirrelly little country with a heck of a lot of oil and not much more to commend you to society.
ROLLINS: Defended by us for many years.
ZIMMERMAN: And underwritten by us for many years in many ways.
DOBBS: So what in the world - OK, I'm tired of the rhetoric from the Democrats, I'm tired of it from this ridiculous excuse for an administration. When are we going to get serious about an energy policy? When are these candidates, when are they actually going to get serious about this issue?
ZIMMERMAN: You see, I think it's much bigger than President Bush being rejected in that meeting. It really speaks to the bipartisan failure to have a policy leading us toward energy independence.
DOBBS: I think that's what I just said.
DOBBS: I think I said both parties have been complete and utterly irresponsible, incompetent and devoid of imagination. ZIMMERMAN: It's one of the few times we agree so I think it's worth noting.
DOBBS: All right.
ZIMMERMAN: Many times we agree.
DOBBS: So what are we going to do here?
GOODWIN: Well, but you would think, Lou, that the price, then, however we get to this price, the price should be the incentive to change our addiction to oil as President Bush rightly called it. But in fact not much is changing other than we're trying to increase supply.
ROLLINS: What is changing, though, is an awful lot of middle class, lower middle class Americans are being hurt terribly by this.
ZIMMERMAN: But that leads to real change because until the public ...
ROLLINS: It does not because they still have to go to work every day. They don't have the luxury of mass transit. They live across this country and they are struggling and they are suffering. The guy is going to drive to the Hamptons this summer and their helicopters are not going to be affected, but the guy in Nebraska, the guy in Missouri ...
DOBBS: I really believe this is one of the things that's going to come out in this election, because I want to watch these cute little geniuses who are running these campaigns, when they figure out just about - I'm going to figure it will be sometime around the end of September, that they haven't got a clue what's going on with this country and the American people and we're going to see all of us in this country that the national media has accepted just about the same deficit of understanding the American people and you're going to see, I think, a seismic shift here that's going to surprise the candidates of both parties.
ZIMMERMAN: And that goes back to my point. That's what's going to lead to change. The American people are going to demand change ...
DOBBS: Here's the change I would love to see is to get rid of these idiots running these two political parties and somebody start focusing on the needs and the desires of the American people and you're going to explain the rest of it perhaps next week.
ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.
DOBBS: Would you do that for us?
ZIMMERMAN: I would be proud to be here.
DOBBS: Robert, thank you very much. Michael, thank you.
GOODWIN: Thank you. DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much.
ROLLINS: Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, THE ELECTION CENTER and Campbell Brown.
Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Lou, today the Republicans opened up a second front in their attack on Barack Obama, not only alleging he is soft on terrorism, now they are hitting him on social issues and Obama is hitting right back. We're going to have it all, including one joke that came out today that may have crossed the line. We'll tell you about that.
Plus, the stagecraft behind Hillary Clinton's game face. We'll get all that at the top of the hour. Lou?
DOBBS: Look forward to it, Campbell, thank you very much.
Perhaps Robert Zimmerman could join you for the next hour as well. He still has a little more to say.
We'll have also a reminder to vote in our poll: Do you believe that an increase in the number of independent members of Congress, independent members of Congress would lead to greater accountability?
Yes or no? We'd love to hear from you. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here in just a few moments.
Up next, they are loans of last resort for many Americans now desperate to pay their bills. To the lenders, they are an opportunity to prey on people who are suffering.
We'll have that report. Stay with us. We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Millions of working Americans are struggling to pay their bills. And whether those bills are for food, gasoline, housing. And more and more struggling Americans are turning to payday loans to make ends meet. By some estimates, so-called payday loans reached almost $30 billion last year.
And as Lisa Sylvester now reports, these predatory loans are driving more Americans even deeper into debt.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shondra McCallebb is a single parent who says she was getting by until two of her children developed medical problems. Her 16-year-old son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and her 13 year old daughter with a rare blood disorder. Faced with mounting bills, McCallebb took out a payday loan where people use their next paycheck as collateral. She says it was anything but a help.
SHONDRA MCCALLEB, BORROWER: I'm drowning right now. I feel not able to catch up in any way, shape or form.
SYLVESTER: McCallebb has five payday loans totally more than $4,000. The interest rates show on her statements range from 150 percent to a whopping 702 percent. She says nearly two thirds of her take home pay goes to pay these lenders.
Critics of these short-term loans say they're ruining American families.
GREG BROWN, METROPOLITAN FAMILY SERVICES: With these products it's equal opportunity exploitation. They go after the poorest of the poor as well as the middle class.
SYLVESTER: Some states have outlawed some forms of these loans, others limited the interest rates lenders can charge. But the industry is fighting back, insisting it provides a legitimate service. And that in states with tighter payday loan restrictions, consumers have been harmed.
LYNDSEY MEDSKER, COMMUNITY FINANCIAL SERVICES ASSOCIATION: They're bouncing more checks, they're filing for bankruptcy more, they're paying late fees, in some instances they're not picking up prescription medications because they can't take out a loan.
SYLVSTER: But a former manager at a payday store who testified before the Virginia legislature says he was taught to make sure his customers keep coming back and keep racking up fees.
STEPHEN WINSLOW, FORMER PAYDAY LOAN STORE MANAGER: You see them week in and week out just slowly deteriorate. I had them break down in tears. I watched somebody lose their home. I closed more than 20 checking accounts. And it went on and on.
SYLVESTER: Shondra McCallebb's new worry is just trying to keep the lights on and provide food for her family, a daily struggle.
(on-camera): Payday loans are a booming industry. It topped $28 billion in 2006 and have doubled every year for the past five years according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And the Institute for American Values notes that in California there are more payday loan stores than there are McDonald's franchises.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: You're probably asking what is the difference between, well, payday loans and loan sharking. And if you look at those rates, you'll find there's not much difference in point of fact in interest rates. There is in fact no federal law that bans payday loans. Fourteen states have laws that ban or limit them. Ten states have usury rates, or caps on small loan interest rates. How about that idea? But for some reason, the United States Congress and this administration think it makes perfectly good sense to do what is being done to these unfortunate people left to payday loans. It's inexcusable in my opinion. Absolutely inexcusable. And it just goes on and on and on. Taking advantage of the weaker and the more unfortunate among us. It is really something to make you really proud of, isn't it?
American business, perhaps the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ought to step into this and do the right thing. Let's all hold our breaths, shall we?
The Web site angryrenter.com, speaking of things to be proud of, claims to be a petition by tens of thousands of taxpayers who are angry about the government's bailout of mortgage holders and Wall Street bankers.
But in reality this Web site and its petition are backed by some of Washington's most powerful lobbyists and one billionaire publisher.
Carrie Lee has our report.
CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The $300 billion mortgage bailout is a hot topic on Capitol Hill. It is also all over the web. This site, angryrenter.com is devoted to bashing the aid plan and getting people to sign its online petition. Nearly 50,000 people have since the site went up less than a month ago. The signatures are have been sent to Senate leaders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And people are very sympathetic towards these home owners who have basically gambled risky loans. Normal people like you and I can't afford a home.
LEE: The site has a grassroots feel. Its homepage states, "We don't have lobbyists in Washington, D.C." Actually, they do. The site was built by FreedomWorks, a group that promotes citizen activism. Billionaire Steve Forbes is a board member. Its president, Matthew Kibbe, worked for a Republican congressman.
MATT KIBBE, FREEDOMWORKS.ORG: We really wanted to create a mechanism. Like in all politics, it's difficult for average citizens to let their voice be heard in Washington, D.C. You've got to create a vehicle.
LEE: And FreedomWorks is chaired by former House majority leader, Dick Armey. He is also an adviser for DLA Piper, a law and lobbying firm. It lists clients such as Bear Stearns and JPMorgan, the same banks that received $29 billion in taxpayer money from the Fed two months ago.
Demos, a research group that is studying the mortgage crisis says the lack of transparency is disconcerting.
JIM LARDNER, DEMOS: Well, when you consider the incredible influence of big money on our political system to begin with. If the influence is not only huge but also concealed it becomes twice as awful.
LEE: Now, this site is basically the same grassroots genre you see on YouTube, clips that seem to come from regular people but advertisers or corporations are behind them. They may be actors and the like.
And Lou, when politicians start jumping into this game, you have to be really careful to consider the source, that is if you can find it.
DOBBS: We're going continue to find sources. A terrific job of reporting here.
But I have to say. When you look at what is happening, this is exploitive of the American people. Dick Armey should be ashamed, Steve Forbes should be ashamed. The whole lot of them. Because this is fraud. And there is no other word for that. I didn't hear that word used but let me tell you, it's fraud and you really ought to be embarrassed, folks.
You're supposed to be, you're among the elites in the country. To behave like that is disgusting. Again, dishonorable, but maybe that doesn't have any role again at this point in American politics.
Carrie, thank you very much. Carrie Lee. We will continue to find the sources as best we can.
Still ahead, we're going turn to "Heroes." Our tribute to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Speaking of honor.
DOBBS: Now, "Heroes," our tribute each week to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Tonight we introduce you to Army Specialist Rick Yarosh. Yarosh was badly wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq.
Barbara Starr has his story.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Army Specialist Rick Yarosh loved to cook even before he joined the Army and went to Iraq.
SPC. RICK YAROSH, U.S. ARMY: Let me grab some parmesan cheese.
STARR: Now this 25-year-old is cooking again with his rehabilitation therapist, Kim, at Brook Army Medical Center in Texas. Today's menu, fettucini alfredo and a big helping of dignity and courage. YAROSH: Right now, I could care less about what I look like. Somehow, I can see pretty much perfectly. I can hear pretty much perfectly.
STARR: Rick suffered third degree burns in 2006 when his Bradley fighting vehicle hit an IED in Baghdad. One leg is amputated. His hands fused by scarring. Rick and the other wounded say they know some find it hard to look at them.
YAROSH: People have to understand that they're going to see people like us.
For people that do see us, don't be afraid to ask us questions.
STARR: Rick says his friend, Sergeant Luis Montez (ph), who didn't survive the attack, is the real hero.
YAROSH: That's the hardest thing to deal with. After all I've been through, I can deal with everything I have wrong with me. Like you can see I'm cooking -- you learn to overcome everything.
STARR: Rick's dream now, to open his own restaurant, cooking recipes from the wounded troops, he will call it The Purple Heart.
YAROSH: I had a guy downstairs one day missing both of his legs above the knee, missing one arm, you know. And he came -- he told me that I was an inspiration to him. This whole time, I thought he was the inspiration for me. He told me that, and that was amazing, you know. So we're inspiring each other and we don't even know it sometimes.
STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Brook Army Medical Center.
Well, the results of our poll tonight -- 89 percent of you say that an increase in the number of independent members of Congress would lead to greater accountability.
Please remember that come November.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Floyd in West Virginia said: "Lou, now I remember why after being a Democrat for 30 years, I changed to be an Independent. Unbelievable."
And Randy in Florida: "Dear Lou, I understand you always say, this is only my opinion. But I wanted to let you know that your opinions are just what America needs. I support those opinions. Keep up the good work."
I'll sure try.
Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com.
We thank you for being with us tonight. Good night from New York.
The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.