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Final Showdown in Final Two Primaries Today; Bill Clinton Strikes Back at 'Vanity Fair' Reporter; War Shapes up Presidential Campaign; Gas Thieves Tap Into Your Tank

Aired June 3, 2008 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: How could you mistake today? Because it's the end. It's the end. It's finally here.
We begin with the "Most Politics in the Morning." This is it. It's the Democrats primary finale. There's a lot of tension and uncertainty riding on today.

The Obama campaign has been pushing hard to have enough superdelegates on hand by tonight to declare the contest over. Are those superdelegates who've been wheeling and dealing ready to pick sides and declare, or out of deference to Hillary Clinton, will they wait until later on this week?

We're counting down the minutes until the voting begins now less than two hours until voters go to the polls in South Dakota. They open at 7:00 a.m. Central, 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Montana opens up an hour later.

Thirty-one delegates at stake between the two states. That breaks down to 15 in South Dakota and 16 in Montana. Those are the pledged delegates available.

And as the final votes are cast, is unity next for the Democratic contenders? The language is already changing. CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Keystone, South Dakota, for us. Good morning, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Barack Obama is essentially holding the door open for Hillary Clinton to make a graceful exit from this campaign. Both of these candidates are sounding less like bitter rivals and more like teammates who could change the face of presidential politics.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Looking beyond South Dakota and Montana and on to the battle ground state of Michigan, Barack Obama is offering the kind of praise political analyst love to parse.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is an outstanding public servant, and she and I will be working together in November.

ACOSTA: No offers are being made, both campaigns say, but the two senators will be talking as Obama put it at a time and place of her choosing. OBAMA: We still got two more contests to go, and I'm sure there'll be further conversations after Tuesday.

ACOSTA: It was another gesture to go with the olive branch he extended to Hillary Clinton in South Dakota.

OBAMA: She is going to be a great asset when we go into November to make sure that we defeat the Republicans. That I can promise you.

ACOSTA: While Clinton is still hammering home her contested claim to the popular vote edge.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am now over 300,000 votes ahead in the popular vote.

ACOSTA: She is doing it with a velvet glove. She knows word is trickling out that her campaign is apparently telling some staffers they'll be out of a job once the curtain closes on the primaries.

CLINTON: Our main job at the end of this historic closely contested primary season is to nominate the next president who must be a Democrat. That is our goal.

ACOSTA: Slightly less subtle was the former president in South Dakota.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run.

ACOSTA: Pondering the next step at the footsteps of Mount Rushmore, some Democrats welcome the thought of their party making presidential history.

JESSICA FREY, DEMOCRAT: I really hope that that means they're going to combine forces and work together to win, the Democrats.


ACOSTA: And one polling group shows Senator Clinton gaining on Barack Obama in Montana and beating him here in South Dakota. Still, she is expected to wrap up her day in New York, John, where she is expected to tell her supporters tonight that she's willing to do whatever it takes for the Democrats to win come November -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes, those new numbers in South Dakota there, a surprising turnaround, has her leading Barack Obama almost 60-40.

Jim Acosta for us this morning. Jim, thanks.

ACOSTA: Very surprising.


More signals that the Democratic nomination is close to being settled. Another Hillary Clinton supporter is talking about the next step for the candidate and the party.


GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: To be a candidate, I think Senator Obama is going to get the delegates he needs certainly by the end of the week. And then I think Senator Clinton is going to do the right thing and move fairly decisively to unify the party and we will all follow her lead.


ROBERTS: A group of uncommitted superdelegates is planning to meet on Capitol Hill tomorrow after tonight's final primary results are in -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign is apologizing for what they call inappropriate language from Bill Clinton. The former president slammed "Vanity Fair" reporter Todd Purdum for a scathing article about him. Take a listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a really dishonest reporter. And one of our guys talked to him and he said (INAUDIBLE). I haven't read it. But the guy told me there's five or six blatant lies in there. But he's a real slimy guy.


PHILLIPS: Now, that article suggests that Clinton's heart bypass surgery in 2004 has changed him into an angrier man, and it also questions his business deals and behavior on the campaign trail. This is what it says.

"Four former Clinton aides told me that about 18 months ago, one of the president's former assistants, who still advises him on political matters had heard so many complaints about such reports from Clinton supporters around the country that he felt compelled to try to conduct what one of these aides called an 'intervention' because the aide believed, 'Clinton was apparently seeing a lot of women on the road.'"

Now, Clinton called the article part of a broader media campaign.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It's just the most biased press coverage in history. It's another way of helping Obama.

You know, they didn't do any study. They had all these people standing up in this church cheering, calling Hillary a white racist, and he didn't do anything about it. The first day he said, ah, well, because that's what they do. He gets other people to slime her. So then, they saw the movie they thought this is a great ad for John McCain. Maybe I'll quit the church.

This is all politics. It's all about the bias of the media for Obama. Don't think anything about it.


PHILLIPS: Remember Purdum covered the Clinton White House for the "New York Times" and is married to Dee Dee Myers, Clinton's first White House press secretary. Purdum told CNN though that he stands by his article.

Vice President Dick Cheney apologizing for a joke that he made about people who live in West Virginia during a question and answer session at the National Press Club in Washington. Cheney talked about how he and Barack Obama are distant relatives and how he has Cheneys on both sides of the families saying, "and we don't even live in West Virginia."

West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd called the inbreeding joke "an insult to all Americans."

ROBERTS: And in a separate incident from that, Kyra, Senator Robert Byrd was hospitalized last night with a fever. The spokesman for the 90-year-old said that the senator felt lethargic and sluggish while participating in a vote at the Capitol.

Doctors say the surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor from Senator Ted Kennedy's brain was successful, and Kennedy should suffer no permanent damage from the operation. The three-hour procedure was performed by the chief of neurosurgery at Duke University Medical Center. Kennedy says he feels like a million bucks.

And coming up in our next hour, we're going to ask our very own resident neurosurgeon, and how many networks have one of those, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to explain the procedure for us.

PHILLIPS: A dramatic decrease in violence in Iraq. The military says that 19 U.S. troops were killed last month. That's the lowest total since the war began. John McCain has supported troop increase to stabilize Iraq and that position may help him on the campaign trail. CNN's Louise Schiavone has the story.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Hillary Clinton the war in Iraq was a bad idea.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the first today that I am president I will ask my secretary of defense and the joint chiefs of staff and my security advisers to begin a planning process so that we can start bringing our troops home within 60 days.

SCHIAVONE: Barack Obama saw the troop surge as a blunder, too.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush and John McCain have been so focused on pursuing a flawed and costly war in Iraq that they've lost sight of the problems that have been mounting here in Michigan and here at home.

SCHIAVONE: But with evidence that the surge has reduced violence and U.S. deaths in Iraq, John McCain now has results on his side.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's worth recalling that America's progress in Iraq is a direct result of the new strategy that Senator Obama vehemently opposed. It was the strategy he predicted would fail when he voted to cut off funds for our forces in Iraq.

SCHIAVONE: Will it matter to voters?

ROBERT GUTTMAN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Iraq comes and flows (ph). When there's casualties, when there's a bombing, when there's a terrorist attack, Iraq comes back on the news. It's almost like the stock market. We discount it.

SCHIAVONE: A late April CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates registered voters rank Iraq as the second most important issue with the economy holding a solid first place. But that could change.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: While voters have longer memories than we give them credit for, they naturally put more emphasis on what happens in the weeks prior to an election.

SCHIAVONE: The election being the ultimate poll.

SCHIAVONE (on camera): For now though, polls show voters still taking it all in, agreeing more with the Democrats who seek a troop drawdown but expressing more confidence in John McCain when it comes to tactical decisions.

Louise Schiavone for CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: Now, coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, he is known in military circles for his blunt, no nonsense talk, not the kind to tolerate incompetence. Well, it was that reputation that put Admiral William Fallon at the top of Central Command overseeing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A magazine article changed that giving the perception that Fallon just could not get along with his boss, President George Bush.

It was the last straw for Admiral Fallon's decorated naval career. Was he disloyal or not, and did he prevent a war with Iran? Now you'll hear his side of the story for the very first time in his first television interview since being forced to retire. It's an exclusive interview coming up at 7:00 a.m. Eastern right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: Really looking forward to that. That is going to be so interesting.

Hillary Clinton says her main goal is to get a Democrat in the White House, and former President Bill Clinton says he may have seen his last day of campaigning. Are these new clues about what Clinton may be planning?

PHILLIPS: High gas prices have thieves going to dangers extremes to steal gas. Coming up, Chris Lawrence shows us how they're tapping into your tank.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, running on fumes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in neutral so I'm ready to pop. Starts, we're going. That was like immediately into drive.


PHILLIPS: Hypermiling. How the little known practice could help you double your gas mileage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking like three lights ahead of the suburban traffic.


PHILLIPS: Miles O'Brien gets lessons from a master ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want your foot on the brake, and I want you to shut off the car at 1,100 rpm. And you're working your butt off right now.


ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, gas guzzlers.


PETE BELLUOMINI, BAKERSFIELD AREA FARMER: Put the switch. It sucks the diesel out into their storage tank in their van.


ROBERTS: Thieves tap into something that is as good as gold.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Where do you think these thieves are reselling all this diesel?


ROBERTS: Chris Lawrence looks at the booming black market for stolen fuel ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

PHILLIPS: So which party is better for the stock market? Republicans or Democrats? Ali Velshi, are you going to answer that for us?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the number of people I run into on the street who say it's obvious, it's Republicans. So I want to talk a little about that and taxes today. But, you know, when you're making that decision as we're getting closer to elections, I want to give you the stats.

Standard & Poor's helped us out with crunching the numbers over the last 50 years, and I'm going to give that to you in installments because it's a lot of numbers to take in. But looking at the last 10 years, the performance of this S&P 500 over the last 10 years, obviously it's been up every year. But in the last 10 years, when a Republican has been in the White House, the S&P 500 has been up an average of five percent.

When a Democrat has been in the White House, it's been up an average of 14 percent, although there are only three years of the last 10 where there was a Democrat in the White House. So let's take it out further and let's look at the last 25 years.

With a Republican president, the market was up 12 percent. With a Democratic president, the market was up 18 percent. Democrats were in power eight of the last 25 years. Republicans, 17.

Let's take it out even one further to see if this theory holds true. Fifty years. In the last 50 years when a Republican has been president, the Standard & Poor's has been up about 11 percent, and that's about the long-term average. With a Democrat in the White House, 15 percent.

Democrats have been in the White House 20 of the last 50 years. Republicans, 30 of the last 50 years. So the bottom line is when you look at the stock market -- now later, I'm going to look at combinations of Democratic presidents and Republican Congresses, and Republican presidents and Democrat Congresses, to bring you what those figures show you. But when you just take the president when there's a Democrat in the White House over the last 50 years, the performance has been better for the stock market.

Now, there are a lot of people out there who say that's just not true. Fact of the matter is it is true. We've crunched the numbers.

We're going to talk a little about taxes because that's the other thing people like to draw conclusions about. When Republicans are in, your taxes are lower. And when Democrats are in, your taxes are higher. I'll talk to you about that in half an hour.

ROBERTS: Isn't the case too that the stock market really does well when you have a Democratic president and a Republican Congress?

VELSHI: Well, if I told you that, there would be no reason for our viewers to come back and listen to me in a little while, will there?

ROBERTS: There you go.

VELSHI: But let me tell you this much, John could be right.

ROBERTS: Something to look forward to.

VELSHI: Maybe he is, maybe he's not.

ROBERTS: Maybe he's not.

PHILLIPS: In other words, Ali Velshi has to go to do his research and put his little charts together.

VELSHI: No, no, no. I will tell you. Don't show him.


VELSHI: Don't show him.

PHILLIPS: I'll look now.

VELSHI: What did you say Democratic president --

ROBERTS: He's cheating all of you right now.

VELSHI: And the Republican Congress.


VELSHI: Yes, I did my research. I did my research.


PHILLIPS: Big numbers.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it. All right, thanks.

This week we're going to be adding something new to help our viewers. Our legal analyst Sunny Hostin is going to start taking your e-mails every Friday on various legal topics. This week, homeowners.

If you had a nightmare experience with a contractor, tell Sunny your story. Log on to our Web site at or e-mail Sunny directly at

PHILLIPS: Inside the most powerful tornado there is, security cameras rolling as a twister tears up this bank. Take a look at this.


PHILLIPS: A rare look inside the extreme weather in action. Rob Marciano is in the Weather Center watching severe weather for us in the midsection of the country. Pretty amazing video as well, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. That's the first I've seen of that and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest. Hopefully no EF5s today, but we do have a moderate risk for severe weather.

Indiana, Illinois, you could see some tornadoes. We'll break it down when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


MARCIANO: We got some pretty nasty video coming out of Kansas from last night. Big-time flooding and some hail also. Tough to get around for sure with the wheel wells being filled up with this heavy rain that came through. Damaging hail though in some spots. Doing some serious -- give me a headaches to your cars and all that kind of stuff.

Four-inch hail in spots in Kansas. Coffey County, look at that. You got your windshields, your back window, it's done.

All right. Now, it's all moving off to the east. On the radar scope this morning we have a number of severe weather watches that are in effect. Some of which will probably drop some tornadoes.

First off, in through parts of Iowa we have some flash flood warnings that have been posted with the severe line of thunderstorms that's now rolling through the central part of that state heading towards Des Moines, and this does have some gusty winds and probably some hail as well.

This tornado watch is in effect until noon today Eastern time, so that's a pretty long tornado watch box. We've got some strong thunderstorms that are rolling into just south of Springfield, Illinois towards Decatur. No tornado warnings at this hour but we look for the possibility of that happening later on today.

The Storm Prediction Center has what we call a hatched area, which means a pretty good chance of seeing some of that action later on today. A moderate risk out for lots of the northern Ohio River Valley and through Indiana and Illinois as well.

So we're into June now, guys. We begin to transition out of severe weather, but the first two weeks of June are typically pretty rough. So we still have another 10 days and start to go before we start to slide out of tornado season. Back up to you.

PHILLIPS: Talk about the deadly effects of a tornado. Take a look at this video that we came across this morning, Rob. It's a pretty rare look inside.

The security cameras are actually rolling inside this First State Bank in Parkersburg, Iowa. Apparently it's one of the most powerful tornadoes on this type of scale. It blew through last month, and it was on a Sunday.

The bank was quiet, empty. Six of the bank employees lost their homes after this happened. Isn't that amazing when it captured.


ROBERTS: Unbelievable.

MARCIANO: Wow. It's over winds with up to 200, 205 miles an hour. That sucker was over a mile wide. You know, we probably didn't give it the coverage it deserved.

I mean, think about the last one was Greensburg, Kansas, and this town pretty much got wiped out just almost as bad. And that is an intense, intense storm for sure. That's amazing.

ROBERTS: That is incredible video.

PHILLIPS: Well, if you got a "Hot Shot," send it to us. We like talking about stuff like that. Head to our Web site, Follow the "Hot Shot" link.

ROBERTS: Soaring gasoline prices creating a new kind of crime. But these so-called gas thieves are not robbing gasoline stations, they're tapping into your tank.

Coming up, Chris Lawrence shows us how they're doing it.

PHILLIPS: Barack Obama expects to be the Democratic candidate maybe as early as tonight. What does he mean when he says he and Hillary Clinton will have to be working together in November?

New signals from both campaigns ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


PHILLIPS: New record for gas prices this morning. The average price for a gallon of self-serve regular is more than $3.97 now. According to AAA, that's up a couple tenths of a penny from yesterday, and the 26th record in 27 days.

And those high prices have gas thieves finding more creative ways to tap into your tank. Take a look at what Chris Lawrence found out.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you think you're getting robbed at the gas pump, you may be right but not just there. Police say thieves are siphoning gas like it's the 1970s and using the Internet to share their tips.

Consumers are fighting back, buying up gas caps with locks. So now, the thieves have started drilling holes directly into the fuel line.

SGT. WALT REID, KERN COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT: Not only do you lose your fuel, now you have to repair your gas tank.

LAWRENCE: Kern County Sgt. Walt Reid says it's even worse for California's farmers. They lose thousands of gallons of diesel fuel. This surveillance video shows one thief as he taps into a farmer's supply. Another drives off with a hose attached which snaps the line and spills fuel everywhere. PETE BELLUOMINI, BAKERSFIELD AREA FARMER: That's part of the frustration. It's like, you know, if I could just catch that guy. Boy, what would I do?

LAWRENCE: Farmer Pete Belluomini says an organized gang of thieves just took 900 gallons from his tanks.

BELLUOMINI: Flip the switch. It sucks the diesel out into their storage tank in their van, some nights where it cost him $4,000.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Can you afford to keep getting hit like this?

BELLUOMINI: No. We don't recoup that. It just comes out of our bottom line.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Over the past few months, thieves have stolen more than a quarter of a million dollars of fuel in this one county alone.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Where do you think these thieves are reselling all this diesel?

REID: Well, who's going to use diesel fuel? Truck drivers.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Right now, they're paying top dollar at legitimate truck stops. Several truckers told us there's a black market where stolen gas is sold at a discount.

REID: This is going to cost him $500 to fill up, and he can fill up for $200. What's he going to do?

LAWRENCE: Farmers are asking themselves the same question, wondering if fuel thieves will drive them right out of business.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Bakersfield, California.


ROBERTS: Last call for Democrats. The primaries end today, but is the race really over? Will Hillary Clinton take this fight on to the convention, or is she ready to get behind Barack Obama for president?

And business is booming in at least one sector of the struggling economy. The repo man is cleaning up. Our Ed Lavandera explains why good news for the repo man is bad news for the rest of us, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Coming up on 28 minutes after the hour. In about 90 minutes, the polls open in South Dakota 7:00 a.m. Central, 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Montana opens up an hour later.

Barack Obama on the verge of locking up the nomination today. House Majority Whip James Clyburn will endorse Obama today, and more superdelegates are expected to follow and get Obama to the magic number of 2,118.

The question is, when is that going to happen? Lynn Sweet is the Washington Bureau chief for the "Chicago-Sun Times." She joins us now from Washington.

Lynn, a lot of talk about this push that the Obama campaign has put on superdelegates to bring them over to his side so that tonight when the results come in, the returns come in, he can claim victory. What are you hearing about that?

LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO-SUN TIMES": Well, good morning, John. What I'm hearing is that his big job today is to get these undeclared superdelegates to take a stand so that he can get to that magic number tonight. Without them he can't.

ROBERTS: What's your sense of it, though? Are there a lot of superdelegates who are holding fire today in deference to Hillary Clinton? I mean, we may see a few come out because their name would be in the spotlight, whereas tomorrow some of the lesser known superdelegates will just be part of the herd. But is there a sense, Lynn, that out of deference to Hillary Clinton, they may wait?

SWEET: Well, especially when you talk about the United States senators who have been trying to give the benefit of the doubt to their colleague. And as your viewers may or may not know, every member of Congress and every senator is a superdelegate. And this is -- you know, that's a big group to deliver.

The senators have been lobbied to make a decision to come out. That's what their leaders want to do. Pelosi and Reid have basically sent the word this is the time because you need to conclude the race.

Hillary Clinton has said that, you know, she's going to keep going until there's a winner. One of the ways to have, you know, is to have a winner is to have Senator Obama get the delegates need.

ROBERTS: Right, right.

A lot of talk that she is going to give a speech in New York tonight as opposed to being in South Dakota or Montana that is sort of a farewell wrapping up her campaign. Even her husband Bill Clinton suggested yesterday that this may be it. Let's listen to how he put it.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Lynn, our Suzanne Malveaux was saying that Hillary Clinton is expected to say tonight that she'll do whatever it takes to put a Democratic candidate in the White House. What do you make of all of that? Do you think that she'll suspend her campaign?

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: I don't think she'll do it tonight, John. And I think suspend is a better word to be thinking of than concede or to definitively quit. I think she's called her best owners to New York tonight to come and just help her think about what the next phase is.

And I don't think people shouldn't take that to mean that she's going to go take a fight to the convention, but she's not ready to make her final exit yet partly because she does want to give her her speech tonight where she in a sense sums up what this past year and a half has been about.

ROBERTS: Right. And then we should point out, too, that under the rules both Democratic and Republican, you suspend your campaign, you hang on to your delegates, if you quit, they're all free to do whatever they want.

Lynn Sweet, good to see you this morning. Thanks for coming in.

SWEET: And good to see you. Thank you.

ROBERTS: All right. Take care.

And keep it right here for the very latest political coverage all morning long. We're going to get an early start to the day tomorrow with live reports from the campaign trail. That all begins at 5:00 a.m. Eastern, tomorrow, on AMERICAN MORNING.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's decision day for Democrats. The final two contests of the primary season about to kick off in about 90 minutes. In South Dakota, they open at 7:00 a.m. Central, 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Montana voters head to the polls about an hour later.

And Hillary Clinton's campaign apologizing for comments made by her husband, Bill Clinton. The former president slamming the writer of a scathing article about in "Vanity Fair," calling him, quote, sleazy and slimy. That article quoted unnamed sources. Then the Clinton aides were worried that Bill Clinton has been seeing a lot of women while on the campaign trail.

In West Virginia, Senator Robert Byrd hospitalized last night with a fever. A spokesperson for the 90-year-old senator felt that -- he said he was feeling lethargic and a bit sluggish while participating in a vote there on the Hill.

Alina Cho here with other stories making news this morning.

Good morning. ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, good morning. A lot going on, Kyra. Good morning, everybody.

And new this morning, more children are returning home to that polygamist compound in Texas. More than 440 kids were released from foster care yesterday after Texas authorities raided the ranch and took them away on April 3rd. The Texas Supreme Court ruled the state went too far, but their return was not without conditions.

The ranch gate cannot be close and investigators are free to check on the children unannounced. One girl was not released after her attorney said she was a victim of sexual abuse.

A very early wake-up call for the crew aboard the International Space Station. You're taking a look live there. They've got a busy day ahead of them. Two Americans will make the first of three scheduled space walks today. They will begin the risky task of attaching a giant Japanese space lab to the station. They're cool those live pictures. The broken toilet at the space station, by the way, guys, has not yet been fixed.

Investigators say the fire that tore through Universal Studios in Los Angeles over the weekend was an accident. Investigators say three workers were apparently using a blow torch to apply shingles to part of a set when the fire broke out. And the security guard noticed the fire 40 minutes after they left.

About 400 firefighters fought the blaze for more than 12 hours, covered the equivalent of two city blocks. The fire destroyed the popular "King Kong" exhibit and tens of thousands of video reels. But thankfully, those reels were backups and not originals.

And it's one of Senator Clinton's last arguments. She said she should be the Democratic presidential nominee because -- well, she's winning in the popular vote. But as David Letterman pointed out last night, there's a hole in that argument.

Take a listen.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW": Hillary now says that she's winning the popular vote. Winning the popular vote. And Al Gore said, yes, a lot of good that does. That's what Al Gore said.


CHO: It's tiny little problem there. Always comes down to Florida it seems to -- this time and last time around, right?

PHILLIPS: Florida just can't get a break.

CHO: I think we're all waiting for the fat lady to sing. It may be a little bit of time.


PHILLIPS: Just no more hanging chads. Anyway -- well, it's come down to the last two primaries and the Democrats on the verge of picking a nominee. Well, both campaigns sending out subtle messages about where they're going to go from here.

CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is trying to read the tea leaves.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra and John. And welcome to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, site of Hillary Clinton's last campaign stop on this very long primary trail. Of course, the real question is what will she say tonight and all day long we looked for clues.


CROWLEY (voice-over): The primary is disappearing in his rearview mirror. Barack Obama will celebrate the season's last election night in the St. Paul Arena where John McCain will be nominated. And he talks party unity in a way that gets people rehashing the dream team scenario.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is an outstanding public servant and she and I will be working together in November.

CROWLEY: He expects to be the nominee. The Obama campaign has been pressing undeclared superdelegates to step up to the plate including 17 senators, most of whom are expected to eventually back him. But the timing is unclear. Many are reluctant to push her out. They want Hillary Clinton to withdraw on her own.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow is the last day of the primaries and the beginning of a new phase in the campaign.

CROWLEY: On the eve of the end, Hillary Clinton was working South Dakota trademark tough.

CLINTON: What South Dakota decides tomorrow will have a big influence on what people think going forward. Because our main job at the end of this historic, closely contested primary season is to nominate the next president, who must be a Democrat. That is our goal.

CROWLEY: She's like the boy with his finger in the dike plugging the holes to prevent the flood. Her field team has been told to go home. Others have been asked to turn in expense chips by the end of the week. Staffers are talking about vacations checking in on their old jobs.

In Yankton, South Dakota, Hillary Clinton called the mayor by the wrong name, wrestled with a sound system that distorted her voice and had a coughing fit bad enough that Chelsea had to take over and across the straight, her husband all but gave it up. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That this may be the last day that I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.

CROWLEY: Friendly fire has begun. Former Iowa governor and Clinton supporter Tom Vilsack told the Associated Press after Tuesday's contest she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him.

It has been 17 months now and the campaign has turned upside down. The all but certain nominee is the longest of shots and the unlikely has become the probable. But she is so much the same -- smart, intrepid, unreadable.


CROWLEY: Most primary nights Hillary Clinton has been in the state she is most likely to win, but tonight it is New York City. Hillary Clinton has invited a lot of top donors to her event this evening. Today, she will spend calling superdelegates.

John and Kyra?


ROBERTS: All right. Candy Crowley for us this morning. Candy, thanks.

PHILLIPS: Coming up in the next hour, my exclusive interview with the former head of CENTCOM Admiral William Fallon. He was notched out by the Bush administration. Now he tells his side of the story for the very first time.

Plus, tough economic times and booming business for the repo man. We're going to hit the road with the last man you want to see at your door.

ROBERTS: And Ali Velshi is here this morning talking tax cuts.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Bush says that if you cut the tax cuts -- if you take away the tax cuts that he put into place in 2001 and 2003, 43 million Americans are going to hit, get hit by a bigger tax bill.

Well, I'm going to come back and tell you what he's not telling you about the tax cuts, right here on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Well, it's 20 minutes to the top of the hour. And in just one hour and 19 minutes, the polls in South Dakota open. That will be at 7 a.m. Central Time. And then they open an hour later on Montana, which is at the Mountain Time Zone. We're going to have coverage all day of this final day of the Democratic primary season. Can you believe that it went this long? Oh my goodness.

PHILLIPS: John is very excited.

ROBERTS: I can't believe it's finally going to be over -- well, at least the primary.

VELSHI: Can you believe that?

PHILLIPS: What are you going to do?

VELSHI: What's going to be over, John?

ROBERTS: I was just about to issue the caveat that the primary season will be over.

VELSHI: No more states are going to vote.

ROBERTS: Well, at least not this year.

VELSHI: Not this year.

ROBERTS: As far as we know.

VELSHI: As far as we know.

ROBERTS: Not until the general election.

VELSHI: A lot of caveats this morning.

PHILLIPS: Until the recount.

VELSHI: I have a couple of caveats.

ROBERTS: Would you stop.


ROBERTS: Hanging chads recount. Oh my goodness. It was bad enough that I came up with that 269-269 split yesterday.


ROBERTS: President Bush calling at Congress to make his tax cuts permanent. The great and powerful Velshi here now with more on that.

VELSHI: President Bush made a speech. And he said that if his tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 are let to expire in 2011, it will result in what he calls the largest tax increase in history. Hear it in his words.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Overall 43 million families with children will face a tax increase of $2,323 on average. A family of four with $50,000 income will pay $2,155 more in taxes. That may not sound like a lot to folks who are throwing around a lot of big in Washington. It means a lot if you're trying to save for your family.


VELSHI: All right. So he's talking about a family of four making $60,000. The only thing about this that you probably need to know is that none of the three major candidates running for president right now support getting rid of the tax cuts for everybody.

In fact, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all say that the tax cuts should stay in place for low and middle class earners. The only issue separating them all is that John McCain thinks that they should stay in place for everybody. And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama think that those at the highest end of the earning scale should have those tax cuts repealed.

So if you are classified as a high earner, you're probably right in thinking that a Democratic president and Democratic Congress will probably eliminate those tax cuts for you. So while it was quite grand for President Bush to talk about the 43 million people getting hit by elimination of tax cuts, there's nobody out there who's thinking of eliminating those tax cuts for 43 million people. It's a very small proportion.

I doesn't mean it's unimportant. And if you're one of them, that's worth thinking about. But at the moment, for middle class and low income earners, all the candidates think the tax cuts should stay in place.

ROBERTS: All right. Ali, thanks.

Running out of gas and getting stuck on the side of the road is certainly not a whole lot of fun, so why are some people doing it on purpose? We'll have that story ahead for you.

PHILLIPS: And we're counting down the minutes until the final polls for this primary season open. A little more than an hour to go in South Dakota. And it's a fight to the finish for the candidates. We've got the Best Political Team on Television, straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: It is a very busy time for the repo man. And that is bad news for the rest of us. Our Ed Lavandera has got the story of this unusual economic indicator.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Kyra, if you want an unscientific gauge of how the economy is faring, talk to the repo man. If they're busy and making a lot of money, it probably means a lot of other people are losing money and just about everything else.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): This house might not look like much but its Kent Colpark's (ph) baby. He repossessed it and now he's trying to sell it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You find the squatters moving in to the properties on a temporary basis. They're trashing them and destroying them.

LAVANDERA: Colpark (ph) has never been busier. Five years ago, he opened a one-man home repo business in a Detroit suburb. Today he's got --


PHILLIPS: Coming up in the next hour, Vice President Dick Cheney apologizing for remarks about West Virginia and inbreeding.

Plus, driving in neutral to get more bank for your buck on the road. Miles O'Brien is hypermiling this morning.

Sorry about our technical glitch there as well.

Go ahead, Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra. You can call me Hyper Miles this morning. I want to improve my mileage. You want to see why? Pull back, Steve. Show them what I got here.

I got a hunk of Detroit metal here, would like to increase mileage. I can probably increase it by 30 percent if I do the right thing. We'll explain how coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: One hour and nine minutes and 48 seconds until polls open in South Dakota. They will be open in Montana an hour after that. And this is it, folks. This is the last day. The long, tortuous road to the end of the Democratic primary season. And tonight on Election Center we'll have all the results for you and there could be some big news tonight as well. So keep it right here on CNN.

PHILLIPS: You sold it. Good job.

ROBERTS: I'm excited about all this.

PHILLIPS: I know you are. Who needs cruise control when you've got hypermiling? It's a gas saving concept that could double your car's mileage. Our chief technology and environment correspondent Miles O'Brien. We call him Hyper Miles -- got some lessons from the master hypermiler.

Well, show and tell for us. O'BRIEN: I did.

PHILLIPS: Look at you cruising down the road.

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes. I'm here in my FSP. You know what that is, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: FSP -- fast --

O'BRIEN: Fuel sucking pig. And I'm driving down -- I am driving down Central Park South, which frankly, frankly this is hypermiler hell. Getting good mileage in New York City, not a good thing.

But take a look at the vehicle I'm in. This thing, I don't know, it probably weighs about 20,000 pounds or something like that. In any case, even if you drive a car like this, there are ways you can improve your mileage and I met a guy who takes it to the ends degree.


O'BRIEN (voice-over): Wayne Gerdes may look like he's out of gas. But actually he's just kind of hyper about saving every drop he can. And I mean hyper.

WAYNE GERDES, HYPERMILER: We're in neutral (INAUDIBLE), starts was going -- O'BRIEN: Wait. You just went -- that was like immediately into drive.

GERDES: Right. There's no point wasting any fuel.

O'BRIEN: Wayne is the reigning king of the gas mileage misers known as hypermilers. A ride with him is a real eye-opener, not to mention a filling loosener.

GERDES: Put on your camera --

O'BRIEN: Yes. No, hold on. I'm going to hold on.

That's what happens when you take a turn without touching the brake pedal. Wayne avoids it like, well, gas stations. He routinely gets 50 miles per gallon in his plain old Accord, twice what Honda promises.

GERDES: And I'm already going to shut it down. This is an advance technique.

O'BRIEN: He kills the engine whenever he can. Never tail gates but does draft behind big trucks. He always drives the speed limit and plans trips as if they were the D-day invasion.

So it forces you to think entirely differently about how you drive.

GERDES: Yes. I'm thinking that like three lights ahead in a suburban traffic area. And now I'm going to use the (INAUDIBLE) drive.

O'BRIEN: In Wayne's world, angry tailgaters are proctologists.

GERDES: Guys that ride in your butt.

O'BRIEN: And when you pass them --

GERDES: They're the mad, rather.

O'BRIEN: And big SUVs are FSPs as in --

GERDES: Fuel sucking pig.

O'BRIEN: I almost didn't have the heart to tell him about my Yukon XL. But when he came to New York the other day, he held his nose and plugged in a gadget that displays fuel economy and we were off like a heard of turtles for hypermiling 101.

GERDES: Gentle, easy back off a little bit. No sense of race. Shift to first. OK, we're going to slowing up to first. I want your foot on the brake and I want you to shut off the car at 1100 rpm. And you're working your butt off right now.

O'BRIEN: Hard work it is.

Using his techniques, I instantly curtailed my FSPs thirst for unleaded by 30 percent, but still a long way from 50 miles a gallon.

GERDES: This vehicle just isn't meant for downtown.

O'BRIEN: You think?

GERDES: That's why I have to watch my own speed on this.

O'BRIEN: Wayne started doing this after 9/11 made him reconsider our dependency on foreign oil. He runs a Web site with tips. And with gas where it is now, he has a growing, albeit slow moving, following. He sure made me a believer.

OK, call me Hyper Miles.

In fact, you might say I'm pushing the concept.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, that should do it.


O'BRIEN: I'm pushing it but I'm still burning a lot of gas here. Kyra, I got this scan gauge in here right now. Take a look at that. 2.9 miles per gallon. Ouch!

Now, there are few things you should know about. It's not just driving technique. You want to have clean filters. You want to use a low viscosity oil. You want to pump up your tires to the max. And every time you come to a stop sign, turn off your engine. You know, I used to think you had to have a period of time of more than a minute or so to justify that. It's actually ten seconds on a fuel injected engine.

PHILLIPS: I'm just waiting for these taxi cab drivers around you. We're looking at two live pictures now. One of you from the inside and outside. And I'm just waiting to hear these guys honk at you as you are coming in.

O'BRIEN: Yes, well, they're not exactly bashful (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIPS: No, they are not.

O'BRIEN: By the way --

PHILLIPS: Hey, tell me about that --

O'BRIEN: There's one other thing. Never ever, ever use your air conditioning according to Wayne. You know what I'm wearing?


O'BRIEN: This is an ice vest. This is his ice vest. It's like a, you know, like a NASCAR driver would wear.

PHILLIPS: Just make sure --

O'BRIEN: I'm actually freezing right now. He drives with the ice vest on.

PHILLIPS: OK. Miles, you're a multitasker. We lost our signal there. But we still have him live. Miles, we have you live. Give us a little wave there.

Now, you know, you're a multitasker. You do everything at once. You're e-mailing, you're on the phone, you're driving, you're doing live shots. But let's be real here. This is a lot to concentrate on for the average driver. I mean, this could be -- this is dangerous.

O'BRIEN: Well, here's the thing.

PHILLIPS: Miles, you just cut off the cabbie.

O'BRIEN: I'm busy talking to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: See? Exactly my point. It's happening live --

O'BRIEN: Get out of my way! Will you all get out of my way!

Anyway, here's the deal. What Wayne will tell you is always -- never get on the cell phone and never do a live shot on a national cable network while hypermiling. OK? Those are two rules -

PHILLIPS: And we just saw the reasons why.

O'BRIEN: Yes, absolutely. PHILLIPS: Oh, Miles.

O'BRIEN: We'll see how I'm doing. Oh, I'm up to 4.9 MPG. Boy, I'm really doing well, aren't I?

PHILLIPS: Well, we'll check in with you. And you might want to think about getting rid of that FSP. And don't let that ice vest freeze your heart, OK?

O'BRIEN: OK. No, my heart is always warm for you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK. Miles O'Brien, hypermiling down New York City. I can't believe that. More on AMERICAN MORNING straight ahead.

Final say. The last day of primary season starting in one hour.


CLINTON: What are we going to do?


PHILLIPS: Will Hillary Clinton concede or take it to the convention?

Plus, CNN exclusive. One-on-one with former CENTCOM Commander Admiral William Fallon. Disloyal to the president or just telling the truth about war? Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: This is it. Getting close to the end. In one minutes -- less than a minute now, the polls open in South Dakota. People will be casting their votes for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And -- did I say they open in a minute? No, they open in an hour -- an hour and one minute.

PHILLIPS: And 48 seconds.

ROBERTS: Sorry. I'm getting ahead of myself here. I'm so excited by this. And then in Montana, they open an hour after that. Tonight, on Election Center beginning at 8:00, we're going to have all the returns for you and potentially big, big, big news tonight.

Good morning. You're waking up to the Democrats primary finale and it is a cliffhanger. Barack Obama is pushing hard trying to line up enough superdelegates to declare himself a winner once the contest is over. As for the superdelegates who had been willing and dealing, are they ready to pick sides and declare, or out of difference to Senator Clinton, will they wait until later on this week?

Counting down the minutes until the voting begins. Just to remind you, one hour and nine, eight seconds to go until polls open there. 7:00 a.m. Central, 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Montana an hour later. 31 delegates at stake today. That breaks down to 15 in South Dakota and 16 in Montana. And as the final votes are cast, is unity next for the Democratic contenders?