Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Midwest Floods Begin to Recede; Gloucester Mayor: No Evidence of Pregnancy Pact; McCain Proposes New Energy Ideas; Phone Interview: Morgan Tsvangirai Explains Pulling Out of Zimbabwe Runoff Election

Aired June 23, 2008 - 13:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Oil got you down? Who needs OPEC when there's a microbe that excretes petroleum? Yes, a microbe that excretes petroleum. Fossil fuel it's not, but it's not science fiction either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CARLIN, COMEDIAN: Upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Four words we hate to say on television: George Carlin has died. Sad day in America, folks. His life's work speaks for itself. And you're going to hear some classic examples this hour.

LEMON: We'll also tell you why Mitch Winehouse fears for the life of his famous daughter, Amy Winehouse. Has the pop diva wrecked her own health at the young age of 24?

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips in New York.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And it's 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It's a busy hour. We're waiting for John McCain to show up at a town hall meeting in Fresno, California. You'll see that live.

Also on tap, a briefing on that explosive and disputed teen pregnancy pact in Gloucester, Mass. Did a group of high school sophomores really decide to be mothers? We'll have all those live events for you.

LEMON: But we turn now to the flooding. Drying out upstream, overflowing downstream. We're waiting for the mighty Mississippi to crest this afternoon, from Hannibal to Clarksville, Missouri.

It will be a couple of days, though, before the danger passes further south. And the waters that flooded entire communities last week have finally gone down, and what's left is a mighty mess.

Our Reynolds Wolf is in Grafton, Illinois, one community that's still watching the water rise.

The end, though, is in sight, right, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You're absolutely right. Don, take a look at this. I've got a bottle right here of Mississippi floodwater. You know, this water has been kind of like -- sort of like an unwanted house guest. I mean, it shows up unasked, sticks around way too long. It leaves a mess. And when it finally is gone, you feel drained, and it crushes the soul. That's been the situation here and many other places all around the Mississippi north and south from this very point for hundreds of miles. But as bad as the situation is, it could be far worse.

Take a look at that sign over my shoulder. You see that? The water mark? Back in 1993, that was the record stage, at 38.2 feet. Puts things in perspective doesn't it? Certainly, not going to get that high at this particular point. In fact, Don, the record is, again, I think way out of reach. We only expect the water levels here in Grafton to rise another 11.5 inches or so as we get into Wednesday.

But then, as we get into, say, Thursday and Friday, we're expecting the water to kind of stay around the same level and then slowly recede as we pass through the weekend and then into early next week. But even then it is going to be one heck of a mess.

Take a look at that -- that sign right over there. It says Corona Extra, about $2.50 for long necks. Not a bad price, but I'll tell you what. Think about the big bill we're going to be paying in terms of the cleanup. Billions up and down the Mississippi, though places like Illinois, back in through Missouri, even into Iowa, where they've been cleaning up mounds and mounds, tons and tons of garbage as far as the eye can see.

It is a tremendous story that is going to be affecting millions of people. And all day long we're going to be bringing you the latest video, the latest stories we have in towns just like Grafton.

Let's send it back to you in the studio.

LEMON: All right. Reynolds Wolf, thank you very much for that.

And what a rough start to the summer for a lot of folks. Our Jacqui Jeras checking it all out in the CNN severe weather center.

Jacqui, it seems like we've been talking about this forever. Water going down in some places, but it's not over yet.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not over yet, but you can finally see that little light at the end of the tunnel. So, you know, the hope is out there. And for a lot of these people that are dealing with the rising river levels still at this point, those levels now are much better than what we were anticipating, you know, before all these levees broke. So we're not looking at record stages for the folks. OK. Let's go ahead and run it down for you and show what you we're anticipating in terms of who's still seeing rising water. Well, Canton and Quincy and Hannibal have all crested now. Clarksville, you're on the way this afternoon. And St. Louis, you're kind of at that cresting level, and you're going to be staying there pretty much through the rest of the week.

Our iReporters, boy...

LEMON: They're great, aren't they?

JERAS: We love iReporters. Thank you so much for sending us these pictures.

The latest that we have in that we thought were some great pictures we want to show up, from Robert Gates from Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin. He said many people in his town of 11,000 have been displaced due to record flooding on the Rock River there. He says, and I quote, "Everyone here prays for no more rain for quite some time."

Thanks to Robert, and good luck to you and your community as you try to recover from the devastation.

Now, we're also watching for some stormy weather today across parts of the northeast. The storm prediction center highlighting this area for the potential of issuing a weather watch in the upcoming hour. If that's issued, of course, we'll bring it to you.

You can see showers and thunderstorms have been moving through the Boston area, producing quite a bit of lightning and some heavy downpours.

The severe weather threat really extends from New England all the way to the Carolinas and then another area today across the western high plains through the Dakotas all the way down into parts of Kansas. Large hail and damaging winds will be our primary concern.

Speaking of lightning, it's Lightning Safety Awareness Week. And just a little nugget here for you. On average in the United States, 66 people are killed by lightning. Ninety-eight percent of them are outside, and nearly 90 percent of them were males, Don Lemon. Why is it all boys, I'd like to know?

Twenty-five percent of them were standing under a tree. Twenty- five percent occurred on or near water. I don't know. I won't comment on why I think that is.

LEMON: Why are you picking on the guys, Jacqui Jeras? What's up with that?

JERAS: I'm not. It's just the facts. That's all I'm saying.

LEMON: Oh, boy. All right. I still love you, though.

JERAS: I love you, too. LEMON: Good advice. All right, Jacqui. Thank you very much for that -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, a bit of a break for firefighters in Northern California. The winds are somewhat calmer today, so crews have had a chance to make headway against hundreds of fires caused by lightning.

The largest is right in the heart of California wine country, Napa Valley. It's buried -- or burned, rather, nearly six square miles, forcing hundreds of families to leave the area.

And those fires are burning from south of San Francisco all the way to the Oregon border.

And there was no Monday rush hour going east on the Riverside Freeway in Anaheim, California. It's been a crime scene all day. Police shot and killed a suspect right there on the road, just after midnight. They think he was the same guy who exposed himself to children near Disneyland yesterday and shot an officer in the leg.

Officers were tailing him when he wrecked his car, jumped out with a gun, and started shooting. Another driver was shot in that gun battle but we're told will be OK.

Now, oil prices are on the rise today despite Saudi Arabia's move to ease the jittery market. At an oil summit yesterday, the Saudis pledged to pump 200,000 more barrels a day, if the market needs it. And on top of other recent increases, that means that Saudi Arabia -- Arabia's daily oil output could reach 9.7 million barrels by July. That would be the country's highest production rate since 1981.

But apparently, it's still not enough. The U.S. was hoping for a bigger increase, and new concerns about production issues in Nigeria are not helping. CNN financial editor says that the Saudis just aren't delivering.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD BENJAMIN, CNN FINANCIAL EDITOR: This meeting was a bust. You know, that -- that's the bottom line on it, Heidi. And the reason it was a bust, we knew a week ago the Saudis were going to increase production by 200,000 barrels a day. Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary- general of the U.N., had said that. And then, you know, some peep were thinking they could increase by as much as 500,000 barrels with the new oil field. That didn't happen.

So I think there was tremendous disappointment. As far as I'm concerned, it would have been better for everybody to stay home and save the jet fuel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: The U.S. says that oil production simply isn't keeping up with global demand, but the Saudis blame a weak U.S. dollar and panicky traders -- Don. LEMON: Of course, we can't talk about oil without talking about gas. The national average for a gallon of regular slid to a tenth of a penny overnight. It's now around $4.07.

Now, let's put things into perspective for you. The average price has climbed 16 cents in the past month. Compared to a year ago, prices have jumped more than $1.09 a gallon.

PHILLIPS: And leading our political ticker, John McCain's battery bounty. The Republican presidential candidate says the government should offer a $300 million prize to the person who develops a more powerful and more efficient car battery, one that's a quantum leap over the hybrid and electric batteries out there today but still affordable.

McCain believes that the prize is a small price to pay if it helps the U.S. kick its oil habit.

And Barack Obama thinks that speculators bear a lot of the blame for the rising cost of oil. The Democratic candidate says if he's elected president, he'll close a loophole that's let energy traders work outside federal regulation. That's known as the Enron loophole, by the way, named for the energy company that famously crashed just a few years ago.

LEMON: Remember the Father Michael Pfleger? Well, he is back in a Chicago church after a two-week suspension. Pfleger got into trouble with the archbishop last month for mocking Hillary Clinton. Pfleger is back, but he is not backing down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER, ST. SABINA CHURCH: I will not let my faults or my imperfections cause me to run. Nor will I allow them to cause me to hide. Nor will I allow them to cause me to play it safe. Nor will I allow them to cause me to be silent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, ushers at Pfleger's church handed out flyers yesterday with the silhouette of boxer Muhammad Ali, and the words "ain't nothing like a comeback." There you go.

OK. We're still waiting John McCain there. We want to take some live pictures for you. It showed John McCain. We don't have it for you, but it's in Fresno, California, a town hall meeting. He's expected to talk about the economy today. As soon as that happens there -- you're looking at -- this is video, right, guys? Yes, this is tape. OK.

So we're waiting that live town hall meeting. As soon as that happens -- there you go. Live pictures now of where John McCain will be speaking. You see a speaker at the podium, probably making some introductions before John McCain comes out. As soon as that happens, we'll bring it to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. And we want to tell you, all the latest campaign news is available right at your fingertips. Just go to CNNPolitics.com. We also have analysis from the best political team on television. It is all there: CNNPolitics.com.

PHILLIPS: Well, this story puts the crude in crude oil. Bacteria bred to crank out energy like cows crank out patties. What's that saying about waste not, want not? We'll explain.

LEMON: And you can tell from the pictures that Amy Winehouse -- boy, oh boy -- is a mess. No word -- now word, I should say, that she could be close to the point of no return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Live pictures out of Fresno, California. John McCain expected to speak there at this town hall meeting in California. We're told he's going to talk about his plan for new automotive technology. It's called battery bounty. We'll hear more about his ideas to create more efficient car batteries, just a part of his economic plan.

Actually we're seeing him getting ready to step up to the mike, so we will take that -- actually let's see if we can -- all right. He's going to -- all right. When he steps up to the mike, we'll monitor it and we'll bring it live as soon as it happens. We thought it was going to happen a little quicker than expected. We'll listen to it in just a moment.

LEMON: The introductions are often quite long, Kyra, so we'll get back to that.

We're also awaiting a press conference, too, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, about that so-called pregnancy pact. We'll get that to you, as well.

In Zimbabwe, though, this hour, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is holed up in the Dutch Embassy in Harare, fearing for his life. A spokesman says Tsvangirai entered the embassy yesterday, seeking refuge. It happened after Tsvangirai announced he's pulling out of Friday's run-up election against President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai said violence against his supporters made a fair election impossible.

Human rights groups say 85 people have died and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes, most of them opposition supporters.

PHILLIPS: And at least 11 people are dead and hundreds of people are missing after a ferry capsized in the Philippines. The search is still underway, but so far only about 34 survivors have been found. Some drifted at sea for more than 24 hours before being rescued.

Officials say that 864 people were aboard that ferry when it ran aground and capsized Saturday in a typhoon. A U.S. Navy ship is expected into that area to try and help with the search. LEMON: All right. We're going to get you live now, Kyra, to that press conference in Gloucester, Massachusetts. You're looking at Gloucester mayor Carolyn Kirk, starting out this press conference, saying she has no confirmation of a pregnancy pact. Also in that, the superintendent who joined us next week.

Let's listen in.

MAYOR CAROLYN KIRK, GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS: First and foremost, the city of Gloucester and the Gloucester School Committee recognize that parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. They are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their children.

With that said, there's also a role for the Public Health Department to play and the Gloucester School Committee in setting policy in our school system.

With regard to the families, in the interest of protecting and respecting the privacy of Gloucester families, there will be no further comment about specific Gloucester children.

The Public Health Department has recently completed a comprehensive community health needs assessment in -- in 2006. Regarding teenage pregnancy rates and sexual behavior, Gloucester rates were very similar to statewide averages from 2003 to 2005.

The Public Health Department has been charged with bringing forth a multifaceted approach to this public health problem, including the following: in conjunction with the school department, to review health education programs that have worked in other districts in reducing the incidences of teenage pregnancy; looking at access to contraception; family involvement with health education with their children regarding teenage sexual behavior.

There are other public health concerns associated with teen pregnancy, such as other risk-taking behaviors, alcohol and drug use, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. All of these concerns are -- come under the umbrella of the Public Health Department and their formulation of the multifaceted approach.

Regarding the school committee, all policy decisions regarding what occurs in our schools rests solely with the Gloucester School Committee. The school committee will take up this complex issue of teen pregnancy as it relates to the school district over the next two months. It is anticipated that policy decisions will be in place prior to the start of the school year in September.

We are bringing in experts, research-based information, as well as examples of what works in other school districts in order to guide the school committee to a comprehensive approach that is in the best interests of Gloucester children and our community. Gloucester residents will be encouraged to participate in the dialogue.

We will take no questions about case work. Anyone involved in individual cases is obligated to protect the confidentiality of the individuals involved. We will be happy to take questions about the steps the city is taking and the process by which the school committee will arrive at policy decisions that are in the best interests of our students and our community.

QUESTION: Mayor, the story nationally has focused on the issue of whether or not there was a pact. (INAUDIBLE) Do you want to know where this came from or (INAUDIBLE).

KIRK: The information from the principal has not been verified by any other source. We are talking to the folks who work with children one on one, and there's been no independent confirmation of the alleged pact.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. The superintendent has said that there were some girls who wanted to become pregnant and weren't taking steps to avoid being pregnant. Multiple pregnancy tests. Is that all still accurate information?

KIRK: I think, you know, there's -- I'm not going to speak to -- because we're -- it's a specific group of children, and we are not going to get into answering questions about specific Gloucester children.

QUESTION: Can you tell us -- you said there is an obligation under the rules of the laws to report any illicit sexual contact between an adult male and a teen girl. Have there been any such reports made to the Gloucester police?

KIRK: Those -- the 51a reports, which is what they're called, they're all confidential. The...

QUESTION: Criminal investigations are not. So have there been any requests for criminal investigations into any of the activities of the students involving adult men?

KIRK: If there -- first of all, let me say that the city of Gloucester and the school department are -- comply with Chapter 119, Section 51a. If there were to be investigations, the city obviously would cooperate. There are...

QUESTION: So is GSS (ph) involved in any 51a reports?

KIRK: Possibly.

QUESTION: What's possibly? I mean, can...

LEMON: OK. You're listening to a press conference happening in Gloucester, Massachusetts. That is Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk, speaking at the microphone now, and she is also joined by Christopher Farmer, who's the superintendent of the schools. He joined us last week here in the NEWSROOM to talk about this.

Here's what's important about this. One, she said she wasn't going to talk about the individual cases because of confidentiality. But she says the information that they got from the principal, there has been -- has not been verified by any other source about this so- called pregnancy pact.

As we've been reporting, at least 17 girls at the school there got pregnant, supposedly because of a pact. They wanted to all raise their children together.

And we want to tell you that all the information and the press conference, as well, available at CNN.com live for you. But again, the principal there saying no independent verification, no verification from any other source than the principal. That press conference is still going on. Check it out: CNN.com -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Live to Fresno, California, right now. It's a town hall meeting. John McCain talking about battery bounty. The Republican presidential candidate says that the government should offer a $300 million prize to the person who develops a more powerful and more efficient car battery. He's talking about the economy, gas prices and this new automotive technology.

Let's take a listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... simple federal standard to hasten the conversion of all new vehicles in America to flex fuel technologies, allowing drivers to use alcohol fuels instead of gas in their cars.

Brazil went from 5 percent to over 70 percent of all new vehicles with flex fuel capacity, and it did it in just three years. Yet, those same automakers that helped Brazil make the change say it will take them longer to reach the goal of 50 percent new flex fuel vehicles for America. That shouldn't be. That shouldn't be.

I'm confident they can do it more and do it faster. In the interest of our energy security, and if I'm elected president of the United States, I assure you they will. Whether -- whether it takes a meeting with automakers during my first month in office or my signature on an act of Congress, we will meet the goal of a swift conversion of American vehicles away from oil. We will do it, and we can.

At the same time, smart policy can also help to broaden the market for energy-efficient cars. Right now we have a hodgepodge of incentives for the purchase of fuel-efficient cars. Different hybrids, natural gas cars carry different incentives, ranging from a few hundred dollars to $4,000. They're the handiwork of lobbyists, with all the inconsistency and irrationality that that involves.

My administration will issue a clean car challenge to the automakers of America in the form of a single and substantial tax credit based on the reduction of carbon emissions. For every automaker who can sell a zero emissions car, we'll commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit. And these large tax credits will be available to everybody, not just to those who have an accountant to explain it to them.

Furthermore, in the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.

I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost, and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. That's $1 -- $1 -- for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. A small price to pay for helping break the back of our oil dependency, and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current cost.

My friends, energy security is the great national challenge of our time, and rising to this challenge will take all the vision, creativity, and resolve of which we are capable.

The good news is these qualities have never been in short supply in America. We're the country of Edison, Fulton, and two brothers who were named Wright. It was American ingenuity that took us to the moon and brought them back.

Think of all the highest scientific endeavors of our age: the invention of the silicon chip, the creation of the Internet, the mapping of the human genome. In so many cases, you can draw a straight line back to American inventors and often to the foresighted aid of the United States government.

For all the troubles and dangers our energy vulnerability presents, we know we can overcome them, because we have overcome far worse problems and met far greater goals. Together we Americans can achieve anything we set our minds to. I believe this about our country. I know this about our country, and now it's time to show those qualities once again.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: Once again the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, John McCain, there speaking in Fresno, California, talking about the economy, gas prices, and also a new automotive technology. He's going to take Q&A from the crowd there now.

But he's pumping his battery bounty, as he's talking -- or how he's named it. He's saying the government should offer a $300 million prize to the person who can develop a more powerful and more efficient car battery, and that's quite a leap over the hybrid and electric batteries out there today. He wants something that's more affordable and more plausible.

He also believes that the prize of $300 million is a small price to pay if it helps the U.S. kick its oil habit. We'll follow that live.

Also, Barack Obama expected to speak in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is going to be talking with a group of women at a town hall event, talking about working women. Obviously, a key group that he needs to win over to take himself into the general election. We'll follow that, as well.

So does it matter to you that Barack Obama is black? Does it matter that John McCain is white? Race and the presidential race. We're going to take a closer look at a new survey that's out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Time now to tell but a couple stories we're working on for you today, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We just heard from the mayor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, just minutes ago. She says there's still no evidence -- no evidence -- to back up claims that a group of local high school girls made a pact to get pregnant. Seventeen got pregnant this year; four times the usual number.

More than 800 people are still missing two days after a ferry capsized in a typhoon off the Philippines coast. Only 34 survivors have been found, at least 11 people are confirmed dead.

Oil prices are rising today despite Saudi Arabia's latest move to rein them in. The Saudis are ready to boost oil output to their biggest level in more than 25 years. But the U.S. and other nations were hoping for an even bigger increase.

PHILLIPS: Trash goes in, oil comes out. It's a somewhat crude alternative to drilling for crude oil, and it all comes down -- yes, to poop.

LEMON: Sorry.

She collapsed one week ago. Now Amy Winehouse's dad reportedly fears for her life. We'll assess the damage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: It might sound like a crude alternative, but one company says the answer to America's energy woes could lie in the excrement of a certain kind of bacteria. Garbage goes in, crude oil comes out.

You don't believe me? Let's talk to Bob Walsh, he's president of LS9 Company and a former Shell executive.

Hi, Bob.

BOB WALSH, PRESIDENT LS9: Hello, thank you for having us on the show.

PHILLIPS: It's a pleasure to have you. I just don't think there's any way we can be tactful within this discussion. So why don't we just get right down to it and tell me how you came up with this idea, first of all.

WALSH: First of all it wasn't my idea. There were three great scientists that came up and said, we've got two problems: global warming and high cost of energy. And they sat down and kind of wrote up and came up with a potential idea how to do it. And one of my great scientists took it.

PHILLIPS: And you were an executive at Shell Oil, so how did you make that transition?

WALSH: It's a great transition.

One of the things -- my last job, I had $60 billion in revenue, a few other things, but it's a great -- how often do you get a chance to make a change; make a change in the world and get to grow a great company at the same time?

I think it's even hard for CEO of a large public company to do that in today's world.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's admirable. Imagine if all the former oil execs would do what you're doing.

Let's just get down and show folks how it works. OK -- I've got this graphic put together of the process. So take me through as we look at this graphic. And then I know you actually have an actual vial of the oil. So explain.

WALSH: I'll explain it to you.

Basically, it taking agricultural by-products, like wheat straw, rice straw, and similar to our own body actually, there's bacteria in this large vat. And similar to our own body, when we eat a meal, our body metabolizes that into sugar. That sugar gives us energy, growth, and for some of us, including myself, puts fat on my waistline. This bacteria is this same fermenter, is doing the same thing.

It's breaking it down into sugars, and we put genes into it that says don't make fat, don't grow a lot, but actually make hydrocarbon; make oil. So it's very similar to what's been done -- Vitamin B2 -- take the same basic bacteria, put a different gene into it, and it makes something else. In this vat, as you're feeding it the by- products, it takes the sugars, makes the oil, excretes it, oil floats to the top in a continuous process.

PHILLIPS: Wow, and you've got --

WALSH: As a matter of fact --

PHILLIPS: Yes?

There it is. WALSH: And here is a sample of what we made. This came off of about a quart-sized bottle. It's actual diesel product you could go put in your engine.

PHILLIPS: So, how long could it be to where we are actually able to take your invention and put it into our gas tanks?

WALSH: Unfortunately, for everyone it's not the solution tomorrow. It is a long-term solution.

Right now, later this summer, we'll be making barrels a week of that. And 2010, we'll be making millions of gallons. And in 2011, hundreds of millions of gallons as we continue to scale up this process.

I think the other thing that's important is that right now this costs me $125 to make this a barrel. Our goal is to get to $50 a barrel so we can help everyone out.

PHILLIPS: So Bob -- corn ethanol, that was lauded as the next great thing, but there was a lot of criticism that came forward about it and it's been blamed by some to contributing to the world food shortage now.

Do you see any twists and turns to your invention like this, that it could receive criticism? And, is it designed to use nonfood feed stocks?

WALSH: Exactly. I think that's one of the things we have designed into this, the bacteria, that they can use nonfood feed stops. It's actually agricultural byproducts, wood chips, wheat straw, rice straw, that are collected already. I think that's the big plus. You have to disconnect yourself from the food crop issue.

Also, you're not going to be able to drive economics without doing that, which is important for the consumer.

PHILLIPS: Pretty fascinating stuff.

LS9.com. Bob Walsh, we'll be following this, of course. We'll see what happens comes 2010.

WALSH: Great. Thank you for having us.

PHILLIPS: All right.

LEMON: Let's talk some politics now. Could skin color -- skin color -- trump issues in the November election?

A new poll is shedding light on what Americans think about race. Here to analyze all of it for us is our Bill Schneider. He joins us now with the numbers.

What do you have for us, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the poop on the pole as they say --

LEMON: I'm glad you said it. I didn't want to do it.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

But the poll was done by "The Washington Post" and ABC News. And they asked people interesting questions. They said, do you harbor at least some feelings of racial prejudice?

About a third of Americans said, yes. Which sounds a little alarming. Thirty percent of whites you can see here, and actually 34 percent of African-Americans said they harbor at least some feelings of racial prejudice. That's the bad news.

The good news is it doesn't seem to be affecting the way they vote. The report in "The Washington Post" said whites who reported at least some feelings of racial prejudice are no more or less likely to support Obama than those whites who profess to have no such feelings.

So it doesn't look like it's having any significant impact on the way people vote. That's good news.

How are white voters voting? Take a look.

John McCain is leading among -- well, this is a different question. That was the race and age of the candidate. We'll get to that in a minute. John McCain is leading among white voters by 12 points, 51 to 39.

Now, could that be racial prejudice?

Actually, the Republican lead among whites is about what it has been on the average for the past eight presidential elections. A 12- point lead is about what Bush had over Kerry in 2004. It's actually a little bit closer than the lead that Bush had over Gore in 2000, and similar to the lead that the first President Bush had over Michael Dukakis.

Now they all lost; those Democrats lost. So, Barack Obama will have to do a little bit better than that if he expects to win this election. But the point is, even though he's 12 points behind McCain among white voters, he's not doing any worse among whites than previous Democrats have done over the past few decades.

LEMON: OK. And Bill, I saw that graphic up there, the age thing. Before you get to that, though -- and I'm glad that came up. It reminded me to ask that question.

Before you get to that -- a stranger calls your house, or whatever, and takes a poll, are you really going to be that honest? Race is such a personal issue to most people.

SCHNEIDER: Well, the answer is -- we really can't be sure.

Do people acknowledge racial prejudices? The question asked them, and about a third said, yes, they have some feelings of racial prejudice. And they didn't show any difference in the way they vote.

But were they honest about it?

We simply don't know. In fact, people may not admit it to themselves. They may find some other reason to vote against the --

LEMON: There you go. Very well put.

Let's talk about age now. What did you find out?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the poll asked people, is race important in your vote for president?

Twenty-three percent said that it was. They weren't any different in the way they voted, so the news is still good. But then, 40 percent said the age of the candidate is an important factor. Now, that's interesting because John McCain will be, in August, 72-years- old. The oldest president, if he were to win, ever to take office for the first time. People do acknowledge that age is a factor in the way that they vote.

A lot of people don't think of ageism or age as a prejudice. They think it more as a concern. Is he physically able to do the job? Is he up to the job?

So it may have a different kind of role in this campaign. But it looks like it may be actually more of a problem for John McCain than race is for Barack Obama from what we can tell in this poll.

LEMON: All right. Bill Schneider taking us behind the numbers.

Bill, thank you very much for that.

All the latest campaign news is at your fingertips. Just go to CNNPolitics.com. We have analysis from the best political team on television. Bill is a part of that. It's all there at CNNPolitics.com.

PHILLIPS: She collapsed a week ago. Now Amy Winehouse's dad reportedly fears for her life. We're going to assess the damage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Man, boy, is she talented. She's not even 30. Heck, she's not even 25, but Amy Winehouse is being treated for early stages -- an early stage of emphysema. The singer's agent just confirmed that to CNN. And earlier, Winehouse's dad told London's "Sunday Mirror" that crack and cigarettes are to blame and he fears she might die if she doesn't change her ways.

Let's check now with our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, she's only 24, and that seems awfully young -- I have been saying, I'm a huge fan of Amy Winehouse, as are many people. It seems awfully young and awfully tragic at 24-years-old to have emphysema.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I know. I was talking to pulmonologists about this, and they said, yes, she certainly could have emphysema at age 24.

The good news is that it is likely she does not feel it. The pulmonoligst who I talked to said look, probably when you do an MRI, or CAT scan, that's where you would see the emphysema, the beginnings of the disease. But she probably doesn't feel it. Look, she's belting out songs. She was in concert just a matter of weeks ago. You can't sing like that if you have emphysema. But certainly, if you have the beginning stages and you keep smoking, it is going to progress.

Now, how fast it progresses depends on a lot of things, including her genetics.

LEMON: That's very interesting. You said she's singing, but she's got that sort of raspy -- that's her thing.

COHEN: That's her thing.

LEMON: She's not like a belter like Arena Franklin or Patti LaBelle, where you belt it out and you hear the whole range of their voice. She kind of has that thing.

But here is the question, though: Is it reversible?

I spoke to a doctor last night Momen Wahidi, I believe, who is an expert in all of this. Here is what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MOMEN WAHIDI, DUKE UNIV. SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It's time to stop smoking or other things that she may be doing. We don't know. But certainly some of the lung damage caused by smoking and drugs is not reversible. So certainly there are some medications and lifestyle modifications that can improve lung function.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you think?

COHEN: That's exactly what the chief medical officer of the American Lung Association told me. He said the damage that has been done is basically done. He said, you can't grow a new lung.

However, in her case, at 24-years-old, chances are the damage -- it's not as extensive as if she had been smoking a pack a day until age 60. So if she stops smoking now, she can reverse the progression of the disease, she can stop the progression of the disease. But the damage that's done is basically done.

LEMON: OK. So you mentioned cigarettes and we have heard the reports about crack cocaine, and you have to heat crack cocaine up. What role might that play in emphysema?

COHEN: It was interesting. I asked this pulmonologist at the American Lung Association that and he said, emphysema is caused by cigarette smoking. Crack smoking actually doesn't really cause emphysema, per se. What it can do is aggravate emphysema and it can scar the lungs and damage the lungs in other way.

But he said as far as emphysema goes, it's the cigarette smoking that's doing the damage. Crack, of course, is bad in all sorts of ways for your health.

LEMON: It seems counterintuitive when you have a voice like that to smoke. And so many -- we hear these stories about so many singers smoking.

COHEN: Right, absolutely. You hope for all sorts of reasons she is able to quit the cigarettes and quit the drugs.

LEMON: Yes, thank you Elizabeth Cohen -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: He made some of us question our beliefs. He challenged what had we could say on TV. But most of all, he made us laugh. We're remembering comedy genius George Carlin in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Zimbabwe opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is holed up in the Dutch Embassy in Harare right now, fearing for his life. A spokesperson says that he entered the embassy yesterday actually, he did, seeking refuge. It happened after Tsvangirai announced that he was withdrawing from Friday's runoff election against President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai says that violence against his supporters made a fair election impossible.

The campaign has been marred by violence. Human rights groups say that 85 people have died, tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their home, and most of them -- opposition supporters.

On the phone with us now I'm told we've got Morgan Tsvangirai.

Can you hear me, sir, and are you in the embassy right now?

VOICE OF MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, ZIMBABWE OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, my whereabouts are immaterial.

PHILLIPS: Are you -- well, we're being told that you're seeking refuge inside the Dutch Embassy. Do you not want to say exactly where you are for your security?

TSVANGIRAI: No, I'm not at liberty to reveal where I am. But I think that's not (ph) the issue.

PHILLIPS: Well let me ask you if you have formally withdrawn from this election?

TSVANGIRAI: Yes.

PHILLIPS: You have formally withdrawn?

TSVANGIRAI: No, no, no, no. We took a decision as a party to withdraw from this runoff. The former, of course you can't (ph), at the same time, being processing the formality of it. So, we'll process the formality after consulting with our lawyers and by Wednesday we should be able to complete that.

PHILLIPS: Now, there has been tremendous international outrage and response to the fact that you want to withdraw from this election. You have stuck in there through violence, death, even threats on your life.

Tell me -- is this the sole reason why you're dropping out? Are you afraid that you will be killed if you stay within this election?

TSVANGIRAI: Well, Morgan Tsvangirai will not go to his death house over dead bodies, over maimed children and women, over thousands of people who have been displaced. I will not have a conscience for it.

PHILLIPS: Are you concerned, though, that if you pull out of this race -- you are the only challenger against Robert Mugabe right now.

Are you concerned what will happen to Zimbabwe if you're not the man to stay in and try and beat him and call for fair elections?

TSVANGIRAI: Well, staying in is not going to replace (ph) Mugabe because said that he will not leave even if he loses. He has said that only God will remove you. So it doesn't matter whether I am in or not. The outcome is already predetermined, and it's on that basis that has informed us that the conditions that Mugabe has created actually allow for an election to be impossible.

PHILLIPS: So if fair elections cannot take place, and you can no longer be the challenger to Robert Mugabe, and the violence, and the death continues, looking into the future of Zimbabwe, what's your biggest fear?

TSVANGIRAI: My biggest fear is that we are facing a 2 million percent -- and the poverty with almost 90 percent of the population. It's only a few elite (INAUDIBLE) Mugabe's close allies that are benefiting from the loot (ph), and from the destruction of our economic prosperity and economic fortune.

So, my fear is that the people of Zimbabwe will become more desperate and, in fact, if we have 3 million or 4 million Zimbabweans leaving the country for political and economic reasons, we are likely to double that figure because no one will feel safe to stay in the country in such a situation.

PHILLIPS: Final question, sir: What's the answer here? Are you asking for U.S. intervention, stronger intervention? What needs to be done to put an end to this violence and try to allow for free elections?

TSVANGIRAI: Well, there are three issues that need to be done. One is that (INAUDIBLE). We have called upon (INAUDIBLE) to intervene in this unprecedented situation, intervene to either ensure that the elections are declared null and void if they can do that, and the special elections are then organized in a free and fair atmosphere.

The second thing is to ensure that the international community let by the AU supported by (INAUDIBLE) in the U.N. must insist that some form of a negotiated settlement that will see (ph) -- that will go through some form of transition and to supervise that initiative (INAUDIBLE) to a conclusion.

Thirdly, I think it's important to -- that the U.N. is (ph) meeting; to urge to the U.N. to consider the issue of a mission that will investigate the human rights abuse.

I think that way, we have three benchmarks to resolve the crisis.

PHILLIPS: And British foreign minister has actually come forward and said this could be one of the most rigged elections in African history. He's calling for the U.N. Security Council to step in.

Meanwhile, you, sir, Morgan Tsvangirai, the only challenger to Robert Mugabe there in Zimbabwe, now seeking protection. We appreciate your time and we will follow the outcome of what goes forward from here.

Officially now announcing that you are withdrawing from this election. We will follow it. Thank you for your time.

TSVANGIRAI: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Now back to news domestically. These piles -- take a look at that -- rubble -- are only the tip of the iceberg. Flood victims face a mighty task as they begin mopping up the mess left by those floods.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)