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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Al Gore Endorses Barack Obama; More Midwest Towns Prepare For Floodwaters

Aired June 16, 2008 - 22:00   ET

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


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, everybody, he blew the roof off the joint -- Al Gore, one of the last big-name Democrats, getting behind Barack Obama in a big way, making a speech that could have won him the White House if he had been making this kind of speech eight years ago.
Well, now he has got the Nobel Prize and the Oscar, but does Al Gore still have political clout?

Also tonight, with cities downriver bracing for new flooding, the people who saw their lives washed away say authorities are leaving them up the creek. We will explain that coming up.

And, then, later, Anderson with virus hunters trying to find and stop of the deadliest diseases known to man before they get out of Africa and truly put the "Planet in Peril."

But we begin tonight in Detroit, where, just about an hour ago, Senator Barack Obama shared the stage with former vice president and presidential candidate Al Gore, and scored another important endorsement.

Just how important is the question we're going to be looking at in a moment, but, first, the "Raw Politics" straight from Detroit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Looking back over the last eight years, I can tell you that we have already learned one important fact since the year of 2000. Take it from me. Elections matter.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GORE: If you think the next appointments to our Supreme Court are important, you know that elections matter.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GORE: If you live in the city of New Orleans, you know that elections matter.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GORE: If you or a member of your family or serving in the active military, the National Guard or Reserves, you know that elections matter.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GORE: And this election matters more than ever, because America needs change more than ever.

After eight years of lost jobs and lower wages, we need change. After eight years of incompetence, neglect and failure, we need change. After eight years in which our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need change.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GORE: After eight years of the worst, most serious foreign policy mistakes in the entire history of our nation, we need change.

Perhaps we would recognize that, if we heard a young leader rise up to say we're not a red-state America or a blue-state America, we are the United States of America, we would know that change was on the way...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GORE: ... if that young leader reached out not only to the supporters of the other candidates in his party, but also beyond partisan lines to Republicans and independents, and said to us all, America, our time has come.

We have such a nominee. We have such a leader. Yes, we can.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Al Gore won Michigan in 2000, but how much weight does his endorsement carry in 2008, in the wake of a bitter primary race?

Well, let's dig deeper now with CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and David Gergen, all joining us tonight.

Welcome, everybody.

Candy, let me start with you. What does Gore's endorsement mean for Obama?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can't say as it comes as a surprise. It probably would have meant more had he done it in the heat of the campaign.

But, nonetheless, one of the things that Al Gore does is, his very presence reminds Democrats of 2000, an election they think they were cheated out of. So, he definitely is one of those people that can get the faithful going.

Beyond that, he's now seen as a senior statesman in the Democratic Party. He went off and made good with an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, took his passion globally, and really, you know, got a platinum name since he lost in 2000, at a time when they were sort of blaming Gore for a lot of missteps along the way.

So, his star has certainly gone way up in the Democratic Party. So, it doesn't hurt. And it helps him in Michigan tonight. It was an otherwise sort of routine day. He gets some headlines out of it. By the way, they also had John Edwards do his endorsement in Michigan. And it tells you a lot about location and what Barack Obama needs to win.

BROWN: Yes, Michigan certainly a crucial battleground state.

David, the party still hasn't fully recovered from the bitter primary between Clinton and Obama. Can Gore help in that way, to unite the party? And what role could he or would he play for Obama?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Campbell, I don't think you can point to demographic groups that Gore brings to the table, in the way you can with Hillary Clinton, for example, with women, especially older women.

But Al Gore has greater moral standing at the moment than any other Democrat. And given his commitment, his fierce dedication to climate change, I think he does help bring environmentalists, clearly, a lot of independents who care about the environment will listen to him.

And I think he, as -- as Candy says, he can perhaps make the case against eight years of Republican rule under George W. Bush. He can make that case more pointedly, with more force than almost anyone else, because there is a sense, in the Democratic Party at least, that he was a victim, that he actually won that election.

So, I think he's an important force for Barack Obama. And I think, actually, in retrospect, had he endorsed earlier, while Hillary Clinton was still a viable candidate, he could have been a divisive force. So, coming in now, in looking at the whole totality, I think was actually the right time to come in.

BROWN: And...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Campbell, I also -- I also...

BROWN: We should -- we should mention there are some live pictures we want to just show the -- our viewers.

That's Obama and Gore leaving the event where the endorsement was made, a big crowd there in Michigan.

And, Gloria, let me ask you, his presence on the stage, standing next to Obama, will inevitably trigger V.P. speculation. Do you think there is any chance that we might see an Obama-Gore ticket?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Every time I ask a former Gore adviser or somebody who is close to Al Gore about that possibility, which Democrats would clearly love -- because, talk about balancing a ticket with foreign policy experience, someone able to raise money, you know, there he is -- they laugh, and they say, are you kidding?

Al Gore has got a fabulous life. He likes Barack Obama. He thinks he's terrific. He would like to see him become president of the United States. But he doesn't want to go backwards. There is only one job he would take. And that's president of the United States. And kind of been there, done that. So, from their point of view, there's no way he would do it.

BROWN: And, Candy, is that the sense you're getting from the campaign as well?

CROWLEY: Well, for Barack Obama, they're very tight-lipped about the vice presidency.

Obviously, Al Gore is someone they would look at and that they would say they were looking at. But the truth of the matter is, this is not a guy that was interested. For heaven's sakes, he didn't want to run in 2004 for the presidency. I can't imagine him wanting to run for the vice presidency.

I think this is a much bigger case that Gore wouldn't take it than that Obama wouldn't offer it.

BROWN: David, do you agree with that, even if it was pitched to him perhaps as an opportunity to kind of be -- I think it was James Carville who suggested it -- energy czar, you know, to expand the role, the traditional role of vice president, and to make the issues that he cares most passionately about center stage for him, and let him take those issues and run with it?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Not going to happen, Campbell.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Do I sound like I wanted this too badly here, David? It's a good story.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: But here's what -- but here's what I do think. I do think there is a job for him, but not a formal role. And that is, he could be the environmental czar in an informal basis. He could be the person who renegotiates the Kyoto treaty, which expires during the first term of the next president.

And if he could -- if he were willing to put himself forward and be anointed, in effect, during the campaign, I do think that would help the Obama campaign a lot. He's -- he could represent the United States. If you -- you, in effect, said, Bill Clinton is going to help me in the Middle East and Al Gore is going to help to deliver a climate change agreement with China and India, that would be a huge contribution to the next administration and would really get a lot of environmentally sensitive people very excited.

BORGER: Well, but where would that leave Hillary Clinton?

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: All right, guys, let me ask you about that. And...

GERGEN: Health care.

BROWN: ... Gloria, I will start with you.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Another -- since you brought up Clinton -- you brought it up -- today, Obama also announced that Patti Solis Doyle -- Solis Doyle -- this is the former Clinton campaign manager -- will be chief of staff for Obama's yet-to-be-named vice presidential choice.

Doyle was fired by Hillary Clinton in February. Reports out there indicate that they're barely speaking to each other, or they haven't really spoken since. So, how do you read this move, Gloria, by Obama?

BORGER: Well, it's interesting, and I think you have to read it two different ways.

People in the Obama campaign say that she's terrific. They wanted to bring her on board. She has a personal relationship with one of Obama's top aides, David Axelrod, that they have been talking for a while, and that she's a natural fit.

If you talk to people in the former Clinton campaign, they're kind of scratching their heads, and they're divided. Some of them don't think she did a very good job. Some of them think that putting her in this particular slot, being in charge of whomever is going to be named vice president, is kind of a slap in the face to Hillary Clinton, because they don't think it's likely that she's going to be named vice president.

So, it's kind of all over the lot, Campbell.

BROWN: And, David, is that the sense, that that was the final signal that there is very little chance at all of Hillary Clinton being asked to be on the ticket?

GERGEN: This is a campaign that has made a number of very, very good decisions.

This -- this decision was a dumb one, because it's -- as Gloria said, it sent a signal to an awful lot of people on the Clinton side. At the very day that you have got Al Gore out there calling for unity, trying to bring healing, this was an insulting move on the part of -- to many Clinton people, because it said to them, no chance. She's not going to be vice president. Get over it.

And, at the very -- and he needed to keep the suspense in this. Now, it may still happen, but it sent exactly the wrong signal at the wrong time. And I'm very surprised they did it.

BROWN: Candy, your take?

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

I mean, look, the Obama campaign says, we liked her. We wanted her on board. We didn't intend to send a signal.

If that is the case, then they really didn't think this through very well, because most people around Hillary Clinton -- and I have talked to four or five of them today -- our Jessica Yellin talked to a couple -- and they said, you know, listen, this is a woman who, even before Hillary Clinton got out, was talking to the Obama campaign.

They do believe, many of them, that, in fact, she was responsible for some of the early missteps. They do think this is a signal. So, even if no offense was intended, offense was taken.

BROWN: Right.

All right, guys, stay with us.

We have got a lot more politics ahead. We're going to ask our panel to weigh in on John McCain's fund-raising controversy, a major contributor of his and the remarks he made that have women up in arms. Will Senator McCain sacrifice the money and will he pay a political price? We're going to tackle those questions, "Keeping Them Honest."

Also, we're live from the flood zone, where the tempers are red- hot over how the disaster is being handled.

And then, later, Anderson's dispatch from the front lines in Africa, fighting killer diseases before they spread -- all that and more tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We have new details tonight about a developing story, the latest fumble on the campaign trail. The McCain campaign canceled a fund-raiser today in Texas. It was going to be held at the home of a supporter whose past remarks about women are rocking the McCain campaign tonight.

CNN's Dana Bash is "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A hastily-arranged conference at his campaign headquarters. John McCain wanted to get in the news with a new idea for voters' pain at the pump, allowing states to drill for oil offshore.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.

BASH: That announcement was moved up to try to drive the day's story, not be driven by the day's campaign fumble, that McCain had to cancel a Monday fund-raiser at the home of Texas Republican Clayton Williams, after the campaign was questioned about Williams' controversial comments about women during his 1990 Texas governor's race.

Then, Williams compared bad weather to rape, saying, As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

(on camera): How did it come to pass that you had this fund- raiser planned?

MCCAIN: First of all, my people were not aware of a statement that he made 16 or 18 years ago. I have forgotten how many years ago it was.

BASH (voice-over): But a LexisNexis search for what Williams is known for in politics, his 1990 governor's race, comes up with multiple references to his comments about women. It was a big campaign issue because he was running against a woman -- Ann Richards.

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: When I hear remarks like Clayton Williams made, I don't care whether it's made around a campfire or in a living room or in a formal speech. It indicates a level of thinking that is an embarrassment in the community.

BASH: Williams is just the latest vetting problem for McCain. Last month, McCain rejected endorsements from pastors John Hagee and Ron Parsley after months of controversy around their views of Catholics and Muslims.

(on camera): The fund-raiser will be rescheduled for a new location, other than Williams' house, later this summer. McCain made clear he won't return $300,000 Williams helped raise, saying those donors are his supporters.

But McCain did not answer whether he thinks this will have any impact on his big push for women voters, in light of Hillary Clinton's defeat.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: As Dana said, this isn't the first vetting gap for the McCain campaign.

But how serious a misstep is this one? We're digging deeper now with our panel once again. Joining us, Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, and David Gergen.

And, Gloria, could this fund-raiser flap with Clayton Williams have an impact on McCain's push for women?

BORGER: Well, I think it could. There's kind of this drip, drip, drip going on in these campaigns right now.

And, as you pointed out, McCain really believes that he has an opportunity to win over these suburban women, who, in recent polls, have shown that they don't like Barack Obama very much. I would have to say that this is not one way to do it, and that this also really shows that this is a campaign that still has to get up to speed on being ready for kind of a general election, because these are the kinds of mistakes that you don't think they -- I don't think they should be making at this point in a campaign.

BROWN: And, Candy, you know, the McCain campaign is not returning the money they raised. The fund-raiser is going to be moved to a different location. Does that go for enough, in terms of them or him trying to distance himself from Williams?

CROWLEY: Probably.

I mean, the good thing for McCain -- and, for that matter, for Obama -- is some of this stuff is coming up, and it's June, better now than September.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: But, you know, this is the time when they're trying to get their act together.

And we have seen many campaigns still in June sort of fumbling around, not being as careful as they should be about the vetting. I think, if one thing it does is it -- you know, we're just sort of inundated every day by e-mails from one campaign or the other, or from one -- the RNC and the DNC.

And what this does is kind of even them out. They thought they were really on to something in the McCain campaign, when they said, well, Obama certainly doesn't vet his vetters and this and that. And then along comes this. So, it does balance it out. And I think probably the story moves along -- I mean -- I'm sorry -- the headlines move along, and the story goes to the back burner.

BROWN: David, do you agree with that? Is this a matter of pretty much both of them canceling each other out at this stage?

GERGEN: I think I do agree with that. But I think it suggests a couple things.

Both candidates need to take a bit of a vacation.

BORGER: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: I think they need to give the country...

BORGER: So do we.

GERGEN: I think they need to give...

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: And I think the country needs a break from all of this for a while.

They need to get their -- let people get -- you know, regroup, get some rest, get ready for a tough fall campaign on both sides. I can't believe we're going to go through four months of -- of mistakes like we just heard.

The other thing, beyond the obvious issue about the women, which I do think he should give the money back, if for nothing else to get rid of the story. It's only $300,000, for goodness' sakes in a multimillion-dollar campaign. But I also think it would show sensitivity, which he needs.

But the other issue that's going to come to the fore here is, as -- as Dana Bash said in her reporting, this would come up with one quick Google search. If you go to Google, it's like -- and you hit Clayton Williams, it's -- it's like the third entry.

And, so, the question is going to become, is the McCain camp really into the Internet age or not? And...

BROWN: Right.

GERGEN: Because Obama is deeply into it, and, yet, we're reading today that John McCain has said he has never used a Mac and he doesn't know how to use a personal computer?

I mean, that -- it's going to underscore some things that I think are going to make -- continue to help him with older voters, but he's going to push younger voters to say, well, is this campaign on top of things, the McCain campaign?

BROWN: Right.

GERGEN: Maybe we ought to vote for somebody...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Guys, guys, unfortunately, we're out of time. We do have to end it there, but many, many thanks to David Gergen, to Candy Crowley, and to Gloria Borger. Appreciate it.

BORGER: Thank you.

BROWN: Coming up next: the growing misery from flooding that hammered two cities and could be coming, within hours or days, to your city. We have got a live report from Gary Tuchman, who is literally, as you can see there, right in the middle of it. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Right now, people in towns along the Mississippi River are sandbagging as fast as they can. In Clarksville, Missouri, they're trying to get 500,000 sandbags in place ahead of the floodwaters that are expected to hit this river town and others from Burlington, Iowa, south to Saint Louis, Missouri.

Meantime, along the Iowa River, the worst has already happened, five people dead in the state, plenty of water still in the streets, and rising anger from people who just want to go home, no matter what they have to do to go home or what they have at home to go.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 360's Gary Tuchman is in Iowa city.

And let's go to -- first to Dan Simon for the very latest from there -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, after spending several days in hotels or shelters, or wherever they may be, people thought they were finally going to be able to see the damage to their homes today.

After all, the city told them so. Then it reversed course, saying the neighborhoods are still too unsafe. They hoped that people would be understanding, but many were not.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): Breaking down doors. People got back into the flooded Cedar Rapids neighborhoods today, but they were city inspectors, not homeowners, knocking down doors and climbing through windows, seeing if houses were safe. It was frustrating for residents, who were told over the weekend they could start going back home, only to be told this morning they couldn't.

LARRY VAN DEUSEN, FLOOD VICTIM: The same house was safe for me yesterday, but it's not today. And it's not just my house. It's everybody's. Thousands of people could be doing work on their house, and they're not letting us in.

SIMON: Larry Van Deusen is a landlord who has 12 houses that flooded, including his own. He says city leaders are making a bad situation worse.

VAN DEUSEN: These are people that we put in office that are doing this to their own people. I guarantee they won't be there next time, because I will be doing everybody I can to get them voted out of office. It's just silly. It's just silly.

You got -- you got people all around here that can do the work. They have been sitting here for two days trying to do the work, and they won't let us do it. It's -- it's -- it's just unbelievable that our own government would do this to us. SIMON: But the city says the homes are too unsafe, citing a utility worker injured at an unstable house.

VAN DEUSEN: So, you get one guy hurt, and now all these thousands of people have to suffer? It don't make sense.

OFFICER BOB STAUFFER, CEDAR RAPIDS POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's not a good feeling. And I understand the anxiousness in wanting to get back in and take care of business. That's why we're trying to work as hard as we can to make that happen. But we also have a responsibility to make sure their structures are structurally sound and safe before they go back in.

SIMON: So, now crews are going block by block, inspecting every home in the flood zone, search dogs looking for survivors, or worse, for bodies.

(on camera): This shows you just how high the water level got. People who live in these flooded neighborhoods, they were told to leave either a towel or a sock tied to their front door. When crews come through here, if they don't see that towel or sock, there's a fear that somebody may be inside.

(voice-over): It looks like New Orleans after Katrina, the neighborhoods filthy, worms everywhere. A lot of these home will have to be demolished.

Larry says, that's why he wants back in, to try to salvage what he has got left before it rots.

VAN DEUSEN: It causes more damage every minute that we're sitting here.

SIMON: Water levels may have receded, but tempers, they are rising.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And, Dan, I understand that one person even assaulted a police officer. Just a lot of frustration there, isn't there?

SIMON: One guy was so upset, Campbell, that he allegedly rammed his car into a police officer guarding a checkpoint. That officer was not hurt, but the man, he was forcibly removed from his car, and he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

This gives you some idea in terms of the level of frustration. It's huge.

BROWN: Absolutely. All right, Dan Simon for us tonight -- Dan, thanks.

We want to turn now to 360's Gary Tuchman, who is just downriver in Iowa City for the latest from there -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, just a few days ago, this was a very large backyard and patio. But it's changed an awful lot. Now it's a smelly, mucky tributary of the Iowa River, which is about a half-mile away.

Now, this water here is about four feet deep, where I'm standing. But about 100 yards to my right, it's about nine feet deep in other people's backyards. And I know that because there's a basketball hoop down there, and a basketball rim is at 10 feet, and the water is just under the rim.

Here in Iowa City, the population is 70,000. Hundreds of people are without homes right now. This city, Iowa City, has become the latest victim of the catastrophic flooding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The ugliness is more visible when the day is beautiful. In Iowa City, hundreds of homes are buried in what was rolling prairie just a few days ago, but is now a mucky lagoon. Ducks swim in what was a parking lot. Water rises past the windows of a mega-church, where thousands of members worshiped.

Matt Hayek is a city councilman.

MATT HAYEK, IOWA CITY COUNCILMAN: It's been very emotionally trying for our city.

TUCHMAN: These people would agree. They are now living at the county fairgrounds. It's a shelter for those with nowhere to go.

(on camera): How long are you going to stay here?

BRENDA BERNIER, FLOOD VICTIM: I have no idea.

TUCHMAN: Do you have anywhere to go?

BERNIER: No.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Brenda Bernier was sleeping in her home with her fiance and four small children when police banged on her door and screamed to leave.

(on camera): And what did they say?

BERNIER: They said: The water is coming. You need to get out of your house.

TUCHMAN: And you're thinking what?

BERNIER: That we were going to die.

TUCHMAN: Were you scared?

BERNIER: Yes. Hell, yes. I'm sorry. I shouldn't say hell, but...

TUCHMAN: No, that's OK. BERNIER: Yes.

TUCHMAN: That's how you felt.

BERNIER: Yes, I was terrified. Yes, I was.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Brenda cannot walk very well because of an illness. Her family could no longer get out the door because of the rising water, so they had to climb out of a window.

BERNIER: I was like really scared of, like, me or the kids drowning, because they can't swim, and I can't swim anymore.

TUCHMAN: This shelter is most unique, because it also takes in animals from the flood, not only dogs and cats, but birds, mice, hamsters, gerbils, and many more.

MISHA GOODMAN, IOWA CITY ANIMAL SERVICES: We do have six cats in a house in an area where it is too dangerous to take a boat in yet. But we hope to be able to do that in the next couple of days, as the waters start to recede a little.

TUCHMAN: In the human shelter, most of the small children are oblivious to the stress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughters just wants to go home and watch "Hannah Montana." So...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... that's all she says.

(CROSSTALK)

TUCHMAN (on camera): ... smile on your face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wants to watch "Hannah Montana."

(LAUGHTER)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But it's very difficult for the adults, who are now adding up the losses of the belongings in their destroyed homes.

BERNIER: It was all we had.

TUCHMAN: The people do agree it could have been worse, because they weren't hurt or killed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: So, Gary, is the worst over for the folks there in Iowa City?

TUCHMAN: Yes. The river, the Iowa River, has crested. It's not expected to get any deeper than this, but this water is expected to remain for many weeks. The bullseye now, Campbell, is south of here in towns like Burlington, Iowa, and Hannibal, Missouri, and Quincy, Illinois. They're going to be getting some bad stuff over the next couple of days.

BROWN: Gary Tuchman for us tonight -- Gary, thanks.

The flooding could have an impact far beyond the Midwest, namely in your wallet.

Here's the "Raw Data" right now. Authorities estimate that Iowa alone has lost up to three million acres of corn, and that could mean higher grocery prices nationwide well into next year, since corn is used in a variety of food products. It's also used as animal feed, so meat and dairy products may also be affected.

Compounding the problem, the corn that is available, along with wheat and other crops, can't even be shipped out, since nearly 300 miles of the Mississippi River are closed to barge traffic.

Coming up: licensed to marry. Same-sex couples say "I do" tonight in California, and crowds gather in protest and in support. We are going to have both sides of the debate -- tonight on 360.

And next: the Internet hoax that led to a 13-year-old girl killing herself. Well, today, the case moved to court, and the accused spoke out -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Coming up, Anderson inside Africa, tracking dangerous diseases. He's going to up his reporter's notebook from his "Planet in Peril" investigation.

But first, Erica Hill with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Campbell, we begin with a 360 follow. A Missouri woman has pleaded not guilty to charges on the Internet hoax that is blamed for the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier. Lori Drew is accused of helping to create a fake MySpace account that was used to send cruel messages to Megan, who killed herself in 2006.

A federal judge has ruled the White House does not have to make public its records on possibly millions of missing e-mails. A watchdog group wanted that information released to the public. The judge, though, said the office in question isn't subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

And Leona Helmsley's dog, the pooch who famously got $12 million when the real-estate tycoon died last year, sadly, that sweet little face is going to have to make do with just $2 million now. A New York judge slashed a trust fund for the little dog named Trouble.

BROWN: I wonder why. HILL: Back on biscuits. Terrible.

BROWN: OK, Erica, here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo. Not just one photo but four snapshots tonight of President Bush playing basketball with the peace players international basketball group in Belfast, Ireland. Yes.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Joey, who imagines the little girl saying, "So there you have it, kids. If I can teach him not to drop the ball again, you can do it, too."

(SOUND EFFECT: buzzer)

HILL: Oh. Oh, the buzzer for the basketball now. I get it.

BROWN: That was so good.

You think you can do better? Go to CNN.com/360, send us your entry, and we'll announce the winner at the end of the program.

Up next, Anderson deep in the jungles of Africa. Tonight, he is with a team of scientists tracking deadly diseases, hoping to find them before they find us. His "Planet in Peril" report from the Democratic Republic of Congo is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: An update now from Anderson, who is in Africa for 360's "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" investigation. There is so much researchers don't understand about diseases, especially how they can spread from animals to people, as is common in Africa, where bush meat is a staple.

Well, Anderson has been traveling with researchers who hope to gain insight into the problem before any more of these diseases escape the jungle and run rampant around the globe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Campbell, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I have spent the last week traveling across central Africa, from Rwanda to Cameroon, and now we're here in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And we've been looking at a couple things: how these fragile habitats are being endangered, how animal populations here are being wiped out. Probably the most important thing we've been looking at is potentially deadly viruses, which could become the next pandemic, something like HIV.

We've been following Dr. Nathan Wolf and his team, going through the forest, as they follow hunters who are interfacing, who are interacting with these animals. And that's how some of these potentially deadly viruses can be spread. They jump from the animals -- from animal populations to the human population.

We know that's what happened with HIV, and we've been looking at a host of other viruses which have the potential to not only make that jump but then to spread from person to person and eventually spread around the word.

It's been a remarkable journey. We've been traveling, also, with a photographer, Geoff Hutchins from Getty Images. He's been taking some still photos in black and white of our journey. And I put together a reporter's notebook using his pictures and some of my thoughts from this past week. Take a look.

(voice-over) At first, it seemed so far along away, this land, this life, this Africa. Early in the morning, shrouded in fog, there's a stillness, a quiet, as if the world has not yet woken.

Here in the center, there have been wars, genocide. The memories are still fresh, the skulls still visible. But now a war of another kind is being waged: a battle between man and nature, a fight over natural resources.

Food prices have jumped, resources are limited, people pushed deeper into the forest in search of food. Bush meat, they call it, snakes and monkeys. You see them selling their catch on the side of the road. There are no supermarkets, no plastic packages, no shrink- wrapped meat. This is survival.

But the trade is decimating forests and animals, and it threatens us all. This is the land where HIV was born. In these forests, it spread from monkeys to chimps, then from a chimp to a human. Some spots of blood splattered, and a pandemic was born. But what other viruses lurk in these forests, hide in the blood of these monkeys?

We've been following the scientists who follow the hunters, hoping to discover the viruses before they discover us.

In a small hospital in Cameroon, we find children being treated for a flesh-eating disease. No one knows how it spreads or where it comes from.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we find a woman infected with monkey pox. Another strange virus, exact origins unknown. It's already hit America. In the future, something else from here will again.

Man collides with nature, but it's not also a disaster. In Rwanda, on a range of mountains shrouded by mists, some of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas roam the forest. They're protected, and visitors can hike to see them. It takes hours up hills and down with armed guards through forests so thick you can't see more than a few feet in front of you.

But then you hear branches rustle; you smell the musky, sweet scent. When you finally see them, it's a revelation, a realization we can co-exist. They have parents and children. They fear; they hate, they protect; they love. We watch them; they watch us. A wary balance has been struck.

At first, it feels so far away, this land, this place, this Africa. But the truth is, it's right next door.

At times in the heat and dust, you feel apart from it all. But when the rains come, the dust disappears, and the streets are born again. You have the chance to see the world, a chance to see yourself in a whole new way. We are just visiting here. One day, we too, will be washed away in the rain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And you'll find out more about Anderson's travels on our blog at CNN.com/360. And that's where you'll find dramatic slide shows from Rwanda and Cameroon. And all of this will be part of "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines," airing on CNN this fall.

Coming up next, it's now legal for same-sex couples to get married in California, but not everybody is celebrating. We're going to hear from both sides tonight.

Also ahead, the worst is not over in the flood-ravaged Midwest. Severe weather expert Chad Myers tells us which areas are going to get hit next. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The gay marriage movement celebrated another milestone tonight nearly three hours ago. That's when a California Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages took effect.

Supporters and opponents gathered for hours outside San Francisco's city call and county offices around the state, awaiting the moment.

The ruling makes California the second state after Massachusetts to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The protests and legal challenges have already begun.

And joining me tonight's "Nation Divided" segment, Geoff Kors, executive director of the gay rights group, Equality California, which was one of the plaintiffs in the class action suit that made the marriage law possible.

Also, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council with us, as well, and the author of the book, "Personal Faith, Public Policy."

Geoff, you witnessed one of the first legalized gay marriages in California this evening. Talk to me about how significant it is today.

GEOFF KORS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EQUALITY CALIFORNIA: It was such a joyous and wonderful occasion, and today is so historic. You know, to have two people, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, who have been in a committed, loving relationship since the time Dwight Eisenhower was president, for 55 years, finally be treated with fairness and dignity and be able to marry. It was just so momentous, and it's such a heartwarming thing to be able to have been there and witnessed this. BROWN: Tony, the state of California not only allows same-sex California residents to get married but will allow residents of other states to come to California and get married. As someone who opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, what impact do you think this law is going to have?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, first off, this is a brazen example of judicial activism, where you had a court -- four unelected judges -- overstepping the legislature, refusing to recognize the vote of the people of California. And they're pursuing a radical public policy change.

I mean, this is the first time in all recorded human history where society is recognizing same-sex couples marrying. And as you point out, this is much different than Massachusetts. Massachusetts was, because of a -- what's described as a residency requirement, stayed within the borders of Massachusetts.

This will not stay within the borders of California. It will have couples from across the country traveling to California, going back to their home states and eventually challenging state and federal marriage laws.

BROWN: Geoff, you know, this point that Tony is making, was made as part of an ad taken out this past weekend by Tony's organization, the Family Research Council. And it reads, "Beginning Monday, judges are removing the word 'husband' from California marriage certificates. The next step will be to remove the term 'father' from birth certificates. Enjoy this Father's Day. It might be your last. Every child deserves a mom and dad."

What's your reaction?

KORS: You know, this issue is about marriage and treating lesbian and gay people fairly and equally under the law. That's all this issue is about. And for the first time, Californian lesbian and gay couples are fully equal under the law.

You know, being able to choose to marry the person you want is a very personal decision, not one government should be making. This is a fundamental right, like freedom of speech, like freedom of religion. And Californians want to treat people fairly. They don't want to treat lesbian and gay couples differently.

So let's just talk about what the issue is. I think Tony and his group always want to raise different issues and not talk about the issue here. The issue here is marriage for lesbian and gay couples, to be treating them just like everyone else.

And they have denied people like Phyllis and Del, who have been together for 55 years, a government-issued marriage license is unconstitutional. Because equal protection is a fundamental part of our system of government and our Constitution.

BROWN: All right. Tony, go ahead. PERKINS: I don't have a fundamental right to marry anybody I want to marry. You know, I'm married. I can't marry somebody else. I can't marry someone who is married. I can't marry a close relative. I can't marry someone under a particular age.

BROWN: But Tony...

PERKINS: If it's all about love, then where do you draw the line?

BROWN: Let me -- let me ask you this. Because for the first time in three decades -- this is according to a nonpartisan field poll -- a majority of California voters now approve of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. This is a drastic change from when this poll was first taken, in 1977, when you had only 28 percent of voters who supported same-sex marriage.

I mean, Tony, do you have to acknowledge that there may well be a genuine change in public opinion out there now?

PERKINS: Oh, there's no question that public policy is shifting with the force of the courts and the media.

But I will also say that there -- that the polling on this issue, generally support for marriage under polls, because, you know, folks who stand up and say, you know, "I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman" are called, you know, homophobic or bigots.

And, you know, as the -- as the supporters of this -- and it's not every homosexual or lesbian supports this radical redefinition of marriage. It's just a small minority. But they're very vocal.

And so people, when they go into the voting booth, that's where they express their opinions on this.

BROWN: OK.

PERKINS: In 2000, the citizens of California overwhelmingly said they support marriage. And I've actually seen polls that suggest that a majority still supports marriage being defined as being between one man and one woman.

BROWN: All right, guys. We have to end it there tonight. But Geoff Kors, Tony Perkins, appreciate your time, both of you. Thank you very much.

KORS: Thank you.

PERKINS: Good to be with you.

BROWN: Coming up next, new flooding threats in the Midwest. Chad Myers, working his sources, has just gotten a hold of new information about where federal authorities fear the worst and are taking action to try to head it off.

And a new driving option to avoid rising gas prices. But there is a catch. Erica Hill has details in a "360 Bulletin," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The scene today in Iowa City where the Iowa River is receding. And we have got new information just in to CNN about where the next danger zones could be. Here to bring us to us, our severe weather expert Chad Myers with the very latest.

Chad, what do you know?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Campbell, the next severe problem could be the Mississippi River. We talked to the Army Corps of Engineers tonight, only about a half hour ago. And some of the latest data coming in today indicate that 27 levees could be overtopped, water going over the top and down the other side, if action doesn't occur.

Now, action is occurring. They are putting sand bags out there. And if every sand bag is put out, ten million sand bags they put out. If every sand bag is filled and put up where it needs to be, this flood can be fought successfully. That doesn't always happen, though, as we know.

Let's go to the master and show you where the water is going now. And there's the sand-bagging effort. Obviously, they're just doing that everywhere at this point.

Everywhere that you see red and purple, those are all streams that are either at moderate or major flood stage. All the way up the Mississippi River and into parts of Iowa.

There's Iowa City. And we kind of want to give you an idea. We show you these maps all the time. The blue line is what's already happened. That dotted green line is what is going to happen.

Here's Cedar Rapids. It is now going down and still down some more. But then, as we go back to the maps, and we'll see again -- we'll kind of go to a couple different places -- the water is not bubbled and going down everywhere. In fact, some spots the water is still going up.

We'll zoom back out here and show you the next spot. The Missouri River, Mississippi River. Mississippi River really all the way from about Hannibal, Missouri. And then on up. We're going to fly you all the way up here. This is what we're talking about, from Hannibal all the way up to Davenport. There are 27 levees that aren't high enough for the forecast water.

If the water gets to what's forecast by the weather service, the water is going over these -- over these levees. If that happens, we've got a lot of flooding. We have an awful lot of sand bagging to do and an awful lot of volunteers out there, doing it right now -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Thanks, Chad.

And Erica Hill joining us once again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin."

Hi, Erica.

HILL: Campbell, in Afghanistan, hundreds of Taliban fighters have now overrun several villages in the southern province of Kandahar, which is of course, not only a former Taliban stronghold but it is also the location of the prison where 400 Taliban militants escaped late last week.

Oil prices dipping just about a quarter today, settling at $134 a barrel. But the good news on this one, it's actually down about $5 from the day's earlier high.

And with that high price of oil and gas, Honda is hoping you'll opt for one of its new hydrogen fuel-cell-powered rides. The zero- emission vehicles began rolling off assembly lines today.

No word right now on just how many will be shipped to the U.S., but we can tell you this. They will only be available for lease in Southern California. That lease will set you back about $600 a month.

Now, there's no gas to buy. They say it includes maintenance and collision insurance, but $600 a month.

BROWN: All righty.

Here now, tonight's "Beat 360" winner. We've got them. The photo, not just one but four snapshots showing President Bush playing basketball with the peace players international basketball group toward the end of his visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, today.

And our staff winner is Joey. He envisions the girl saying, "So there you have it, kids. If I can teach him not to drop the ball again, you can do it, too."

(SOUND EFFECT: buzzer)

BROWN: All right, that went over well.

And our viewer winner is Dori in Arizona: "George Bush explores post-presidential hobby options and decides that basketball won't be one of them."

(SOUND EFFECT: cheering)

HILL: We have to give a shout-out, too, to our producer, Tommy, in Baghdad. His response to "Beat 360" was, "Hey, why don't we put all those pictures together to 'Sweet Georgia Brown,' the Harlem Globetrotter's theme?"

BROWN: Oh! Very clever.

I was wondering who came up with that.

HILL: Brilliant idea.

BROWN: Anyway, see the other captions that didn't make the cut at CNN.com/360.

And up next, the cube, the clock, the new record. It's our "Shot of the Day."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: All right, Campbell. Time now for "The Shot." How much time do we have? Forty-six-point-oh-three seconds, to be precise. That is exactly how long it took 18-year-old Dan Cohen to solve a Rubik's Cube at a recent contest in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

He set a new world record, beating the existing one by 0.6 of a second, which probably for the rest of us, Campbell, is about how long it would take to throw against the wall, because I never solved one. I don't know about you, but...

BROWN: Never, not in a million years. That's very impressive. Wow. That's a smart kid.

All right, coming up at the top of the hour, what does Barack Obama get out of an Al Gore endorsement, and what took Gore so wrong? The "Raw Politics" ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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