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McCain Versus Obama on Energy; Stunning new Charges Against the White House; Mexican Police Corruption; Why More Visas for Foreign Nurses?

Aired August 5, 2008 - 19:00   ET


Tonight a new showdown on the campaign trail over energy and the gasoline prices. Senators Obama and McCain now clashing on nuclear power.

Also the state of Texas prepares to defy the world course and the Bush administration. In the next few minutes Texas could execute an illegal alien who raped and murdered two teenage girls.

And new evidence that heavily armed Mexican troops are crossing our border at will, even holding one of our border patrol agents at gunpoint. We'll have all that, all the day's news, much more straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, August 5th. Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody. Senator McCain today launched a blistering attack on Senator Obama over his refusal to support more nuclear power stations. McCain's saying this country urgently needs 45 additional nuclear plants.

Obama hit back saying McCain is using the same play book as Vice President Cheney. Well new polls do indicate that the presidential contest remains tight. Obama is failing to achieve a bounce. That's despite his efforts to link McCain with the Bush administration. We have extensive coverage tonight. We begin with Ed Henry in Washington.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Touring a nuclear power plant in Michigan John McCain expanded his assault on Barack Obama's energy plan.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama has said that expanding the nuclear power plans, quote, "doesn't make sense for America", unquote. He also says no to nuclear storage and no to reprocessing. I could not disagree more.

HENRY: This is one of the sharpest policy differences between the two candidates. McCain wants to go full speed ahead on nuclear, building 45 new power plants by 2030. MCCAIN: Now, we all know that nuclear power isn't enough and drilling isn't enough. And we need to do all of this and more.

HENRY: Obama has a much more cautious approach to nuclear power. He does not want to build any new plants without first getting a better handle on safety and security.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It means finding safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste.

HENRY: In Ohio, Obama stepped up his own attacks on McCain. Again charging the Republican is in the pocket of the oil industry and mocking his decision to embrace offshore oil and gas drilling.

OBAMA: This is what he talked about yesterday. I want to drill here, I want to drill now. I don't know where he was standing.


OBAMA: I mean I think he was in a building somewhere.

HENRY: The McCain camp points out, however, Obama voted for the president's energy bill in 2005, which had billions in tax breaks for oil and gas interests. McCain voted against that bill and has a new ad pointing out he has repeatedly taken on special interests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: Only McCain has taken on big tobacco, drug companies, fought corruption in both parties. He will reform Wall Street. Battle big oil, make America prosper again.


HENRY: Also very interesting in this new ad, Senator McCain says, flatly, that America is worse off now than it was four years ago. Obviously rare for a candidate to say that about a president in his own party, but it's a clear sign once again that Senator McCain realizes that he's going to have to break with President Bush if he's going to win this race, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Well, Ed, you also cover the White House. What are the administration officials saying about McCain's efforts to distance himself from the president?

HENRY: Well they've been saying for some time look, they realize there's a campaign going on. John McCain is going to have to stand on his own two feet. But it's still got to be difficult for them. And we've just learned in the last 24 hours it's unlikely, for example, Vice President Cheney is even going to go to the GOP convention in St. Paul.

Cheney's office and the McCain camp say they're still trying to work out the schedule, but other Republican officials say it's highly unlikely Cheney will be there because the McCain camp really wants to turn the page -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Ed Henry. Well as Ed just reported, Senator McCain wants more nuclear reactors built in this country. There are now 104 nuclear reactors at 66 power plants. Those reactors generate just about 19 percent of our electricity. No nuclear power plants have been built in this country since the 1970s.

And also on the energy front, gas prices today fell for the 19th straight day. The average price $3.87 a gallon. Crude oil prices also continued to fall today closing just above $119 a barrel. That's the lowest in three months.

The latest CNN poll of polls gave Senator Obama a narrow lead over Senator McCain. And this, despite the fact, less than a quarter of the voters, 24 percent believe that things are going well in this country. Well joining me now, one of the best political reporters anywhere, Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, it seems like Obama should be doing better at selling his message of change with these poll results, right?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Kitty, as you say, Obama certainly is not performing as well as Democrats are nationwide. For example, a CNN poll shows that Democrats have a 10- point lead in races for Congress across the country.

But according to that latest CNN poll of polls you cited, Obama is leading McCain there by only five points. Now that's at a time when voters are unhappy with the economy, with the Republican president, and they're unimpressed with progress in Iraq, so you might think that a Democrat would be doing better.

Well pollsters say the issue really is that Obama is still unknown to many voters. He's young. He's relatively new on the scene. And you know the McCain campaign has been doing a very good job of taking advantage of voters' uncertainty about Obama with ads and comments suggesting that the Illinois senator cannot be trusted or is different in some nameless way.

Now, of course, the big unknown in all of this is race and what factor that plays. And to what extent it forms voters' opinions, well pollsters aren't exactly sure. But the bottom line in all this, Kitty, is that the Obama campaign said they expected this race to be close that presidential contests are always close and they believe they can overcome uncertainty by letting voters get to know Obama's biography better. Of course you can be sure the McCain campaign will do everything it can to try to see that that does not happen -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Jessica, that begs the question with all of this media coverage on Obama, shouldn't he be getting more recognition and shouldn't voters know him better as they say?

YELLIN: The issue is getting to know him not as public figure but sort of as a guy, if you will, so instead of having him in those huge forums where you see 20,000, 200,000 people putting him in smaller environments like we saw today where he's taking questions from regular folks so he becomes sort of relatable, a guy you could know. That is sort of the key the political observers think to making him feel more familiar to voters. We'll see if it works.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Jessica Yellin.

Well as we reported, Senator McCain is trying to distance himself from President Bush in this presidential campaign. McCain is also avoiding any mention of Vice President Cheney. Well it turns out Cheney, as I just mentioned, may now skip the Republican Convention at the beginning of next month. Bill Schneider reports.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It's an eyebrow raiser, Vice President Dick Cheney is said to be unlikely to attend the Republican Convention.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well it would be a little bit surprising because he is the vice president of the United States. It could be that they don't want him out there.

SCHNEIDER: You think? In June, 31 percent of Americans had a positive opinion of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, 23 percent. Cheney may be the only non-incarcerated politician in America who is less popular than President Bush. Doesn't sound like a big draw if the convention is going for ratings.

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: I will have to admit if somebody wants the convention to be entertaining and funny that Cheney wouldn't be in the first 400 names that you would come up to for entertaining and funny.

SCHNEIDER: Cheney is in an unusual situation for a vice president. He's not running for anything. Normally a sitting vice president is either running for reelection like Walter Mondale in 1980 or George Bush in 1984 or Dan Quayle in 1992 or Cheney in 2004 or after a president has served two terms the vice president is running to succeed him, like Richard Nixon in 1960 or George Bush in 1988 or Al Gore in 2000.

The last time a vice president was not running for anything that was Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford's vice president in 1976. Rockefeller spoke at the Republican Convention. We checked. This guy look familiar? That's Charles Dawes, Calvin Coolidge's vice president. He was the last vice president who wasn't running for anything and didn't show up at his party's convention in 1928.

(on camera): If he's not at the Republican convention next month, where will the vice president be? At a secure undisclosed location, we assume -- Kitty.


PILGRIM: Thanks, Bill. Bill Schneider reporting there.

Stunning new charges against the Bush administration tonight on the issue of pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Now best selling author Ron Suskind says the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter to demonstrate a clear link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda. The White House says that allegation is simply absurd. Brian Todd reports on that and other explosive charges in Suskind's new book.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two bombshells on the Iraq war from a controversial author that the White House issued a fake document and that the administration knew well in advance that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

In his new book, "The Way of the World", Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind writes that in 2003 the White House conducted a fake letter from former Iraqi Intelligence Chief Tahir Jahil Habbush to Saddam Hussein backdated to July 1, 2001.

Quote, "It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq." In an interview with NBC's "Today" show Suskind said "former CIA Director George Tenet got the order to fabricate the letter."

RON SUSKIND, FROM NBC/"TODAY": The CIA folks involved in the book and others talk about George coming back -- Tenet coming back from the White House with the assignment on White House stationery and turning to the CIA operatives, who were professional, saying you may not like this but here's our next mission and they carried it through step by step.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the notion that the White House would concoct such a letter is absurd. Tenet issued a statement saying there was no such order from the White House to him and he said the idea that he would plant false evidence is ridiculous. CNN contributor Fran Townsend was Condoleezza Rice's deputy for counterterrorism at the time.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NAT'L SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: It's patently ridiculous. I mean I will tell you that when you think about there were 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions that Saddam was flagrantly in violation of. There were reasons that we went to war.

TODD: Suskind also writes that months before the Iraq invasion Habbush had relayed to the Americans through British intelligence that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He quotes a former U.S. intelligence official as saying when that information was passed to President Bush, quote, "He said 'F' it, we're going in."


TODD: Now the White House didn't respond to that specific quote. But again pushed hard on the idea that they knew there were no weapons of mass destruction. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said U.S. and foreign intelligence estimates at the time said Saddam Hussein did have such weapons and Fratto said Saddam had already used them to murder his own people -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Brian Todd. Thanks, Brian. In Iraq, three more of our troops have been killed all in non- combat incidents. Six of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 4,133 troops have been killed since this war began; 30,490 troops wounded; 13,530 of them seriously.

Mexican troops are crossing our border at will, you won't believe what the Mexican military did to one of our border patrol agents. That special report next.


PILGRIM: Immigration and Customs Enforcement today launched a so-called self-deportation program for illegal aliens in this country. This program allows 450,000 illegal aliens who have ignored deportation orders to turn themselves in rather than risk being caught by immigration authorities. Under the new program, fugitive illegal aliens with no criminal record have 90 days to leave the country.

ICE officials have apprehended more than 26,000 fugitive illegal aliens in raids in the last 10 months. Now the new program is called Schedule Departure. It will run through August 22nd in Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, North Carolina, San Diego and Santa Ana, California.

Startling new evidence tonight of just how widespread corruption is within Mexican law enforcement. Two Mexican police officials are under arrest in the kidnapping and killing of a wealthy businessman's son. And tonight reports of a brazen Mexican military incursion into this country, this time holding one of our border agents at gunpoint. Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mexico's legislature observed a moment of silence Monday in honor of the 14-year-old son of wealthy retailer Alejandro Marti (ph), the boy was found dead in this Mexico City neighborhood two months after he was kidnapped for ransom. Authorities have three suspects in custody. Two of them members of Mexican police forces. It's the latest challenge to President Felipe Calderon's effort to rid Mexico's law enforcement of the pervasive influences of drug cartels, human traffickers and kidnapping gangs.

GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: The police are irreparably corrupt and that corruption is not confined to Mexico, but it's spilling over into the United States as the cartels sometimes use law enforcement agents to help in their tracking efforts.

WIAN: In fact LOU DOBBS TONIGHT has learned Mexican military or law enforcement agents have illegally crossed the United States border 42 times since October. The latest incident occurred Sunday night south of Tucson, Arizona. According to the local border patrol union, a Tucson sector border patrol agent was held at gunpoint by the Mexican military last night south of Ajo (ph).

Mexican military personnel crossed over the border and pointed rifles at him. Backup units arrived from the Ajo border patrol station and the Mexican military personnel eventually returned to Mexico. A border patrol spokesman confirms the incident took place and says it is investigating.

Previously Mexico has said its troops are under orders to remain a mile from the border and incursions of the results of confusion because the border is poorly marked in many places. The border patrol says the incident is another reason it needs improved border fencing and other tactical infrastructure.


WIAN: A spokesman for the Mexican government in a statement said, quote, "law enforcement operations have led from time to time to innocent incursions by both U.S. and Mexican law enforcement personnel and military units into the territory of both nations and in particular along non-demarcated areas of our border. We always try to solve these incidents in a cooperative fashion." The border patrol has acknowledged that that is the case in the incident at Ajo -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: But Casey, are the Mexican authorities admitting it's easy to cross the border?

WIAN: They are admitting it's easy to cross the border and in this particular case, what's interesting is that talking to the head of the border patrol union in Tucson, who spoke with people who were there at the seen, there's barbed wire in that area of the border and there's also vehicle barriers not far away from where this incident took place.

So from the border patrol's standpoint, at least the border patrol union's standpoint, the border was clearly marked and there was no reason for these Mexican military officers to be on the U.S. side of the boarder and certainly no reason for them to be holding a border patrol agent at gunpoint for about six to seven minutes before backup arrived -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Casey Wian.

Well Mexico's already weak drug enforcement has suffered a second major loss in the last few days. Now today we learned that senior anti-drug prosecutor Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos has resigned. As Mexico's deputy attorney general for international affairs, Santiago oversaw Mexico's extradition program for drug traffickers.

It is not clear why he quit. Now just last week an assistant attorney general for organized crime resigned as part of a law enforcement shakeup by President Felipe Calderon.

Well a convicted illegal alien Osvaldo Aldrete Davila tonight awaits sentencing for drug smuggling. He was the government star witness against former border patrol agents Ramos and Compean. Aldrete Davila will be sentenced tomorrow morning on federal drug smuggling charges. Agents Ramos and Compean were convicted of shooting and wounding him as he tried to avoid arrest. Now the drug smuggler was given immunity by the U.S. attorney for his testimony against the two agents. But while under immunity Aldrete Davila continued to smuggle drugs into the country. He pleaded guilty in April to four counts of drug smuggling, faces five to 40 years in prison on each count plus a $2 million fine. And we will tell you what happens tomorrow.

Tonight this country faces a desperate and growing shortage of nurses. And you won't believe what Congress is proposing to address this crisis. We'll have that incredible story next.


PILGRIM: The state of Texas tonight prepares to uphold its right to execute a convicted murderer and rapist ignoring protests by the Bush administration and the World Court. We'll have the latest next.


PILGRIM: The United States faces a critical shortage of qualified nurses. The hospital industry says there could be a shortfall of more than half a million nurses over the next decade. But rather than recruit nurses and pay them a fair wage, the health care industry and Congress want to bring some 60,000 foreign nurses into the country. Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2007, the national vacancy rate for registered nurses was eight percent according to the American Hospital Association. Demand has grown by two to three percent a year and the shortage could reach as high as 500,000 by 2025 according to a report on the Future of Nursing released in March. There is no doubt that there is a nursing shortage.

Part of the reason for the shortage appears to be purely economic. A study of nursing wages in 2004 by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that nursing wages fell from 1996 to 2000 and that it wasn't until 2001 that wages actually began to rise. But according to working nurses.

JILL FURILLO, R.N., NAT'L NURSES ORGANIZATION CMTE.: Even though we know there's a nursing shortage normally what would happen in the shortage is that the wages would rise, but that's not the case in nursing. The wages have remained pretty stagnant.

TUCKER: Adding to the pain Furillo says that many of the nurses here on guest worker visas are often paid significantly less than nurses not on visas. But pay is not the only problem nor is it the biggest problem. Last year our nursing schools turned away more than 40,000 qualified applicants because of a shortage of faculty, classroom space, and budget constraints.

POLLY BEDNASH, AMER. ASSN. OF COLLEGES OF NURSING: It's absolutely phenomenal, isn't it, when we have so many people who want a career as a professional nurse, who think that it's a very desirable career and understands the importance of this role and we are turning them away because we don't have adequate numbers of faculty in the schools of nursing.

TUCKER: A fact that has led some to suggest that Congress look at policy aimed at long-term solutions instead of just the immediate quick fix of importing cheap foreign labor.


TUCKER: Now the American Association of Colleges of Nurses points out that back in 1971, the federal government supported nursing education in colleges to the tune of roughly $775 million. That's in 2008 dollars. Federal support today, $156 million or about one fifth of what it was back in 1971. So we have not had the policy to support this and the tragedy of this is, Kitty, if we had American Colleges of Nurses said we could have avoided this nursing crisis. This is not a necessary crisis.

PILGRIM: This is a disgrace. I mean really this is a very good career for young men and woman in this country.

TUCKER: Right.

PILGRIM: There's good job security. It's a professional career. It's a shame that it's not being supported by policy.

TUCKER: Exactly and that's exactly what the profession is now arguing. We need to get involved as a government and support these education opportunities and educate our only public into doing this because among other things we're taking nurses from other parts of the world where they need nurses as well.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much. Bill Tucker.

Well state officials in Iowa today cited a meat processing plant for dozens of child labor violations. Now this plant was the site of the nation's largest workplace enforcement raid this spring. Iowa labor officials uncovered 57 violations at Agriprocessors Postville plant. Agriprocessors is the country's biggest supplier of kosher meat and under Iowa law it is illegal for children under 18 to work in meat packing plants.

Federal agents raided the Postville plant in May and they arrested almost 400 illegal alien workers. Allegations of child labor were included in the affidavit that led to the raid. Iowa labor officials are recommending the state attorney general's office prosecute the violations.

Agriprocessors said tonight it's cooperating with the government and it's not its policy to hire underage workers. Any employees found to be under 18 are terminated.

We do have time now for some of your thoughts. And Doreen in Montana wrote to us. "Hospitals want cheaper labor and the way to drive down nurses' wages is to bring in more foreign visa workers. I worked in nursing for 30 years as a nurse and then as a nurse practitioner and I was never amazed at what hospitals will do to make a buck. So why do you think so many nurses are leaving nursing?"

Geoff in Texas wrote, "I am 78 years old, was in the hospital in the spring for pneumonia. And the majority of nurses were foreigners with limited English language skills so communication was difficult. Imagine being very ill and not being able to communicate with the nursing staff. That's one instance where the foreign-nurse system is a dismal failure."

Richard in Illinois wrote to us. "I discovered your program a couple of weeks ago and I've been riveted by it since. I love the hard hitting style you project and your critical analysis of politics and also the abuse of the financial institutions upon honest consumers." Well thank you very much for that. We'll have more of your e-mail later in the broadcast.

A convicted Texas murderer could be executed just minutes from now. The case has serious international implications. Congressman Ted Poe, a former Texas judge will join me here with more.


PILGRIM: An international battle tonight over the execution of a convicted murderer. That execution is scheduled to be carried out tonight. Jose Medellin was convicted of raping and murdering two teenage girls in Texas in 1993. Medellin's case drew international attention when the world's court ordered his execution halted. But as Lisa Sylvester reports, the state of Texas is adamant the World Court is overstepping its bounds.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Protesters gathered outside of the prison in Huntsville, Texas where Jose Medellin was awaiting execution. In the final hours, last minute appeals were made to Texas Governor Rick Perry to stop Medellin's execution including a letter from U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey also wrote a letter in June on behalf of Medellin to the Texas governor. The Mexican national has been at the center of an international controversy. Medellin's lawyers say he and 50 other Mexican citizens on death row in the United States were not allowed to contact the Mexican consulate upon arrest, a right granted by the Vienna Convention and should be given new trials. The world's court at Hague agreed with Medellin's attorneys.

DONALD DONOVAN, ATTORNEY FOR MEDELLIN: When the United States deals with the world, it deals as one nation, as one voice. And when it entered into the ICJ protocol and the U.N. charter and the Vienna convention, it spoke as a nation. It didn't speak on the basis of individual states.

SYLVESTER: But Texas said it's not bound by an international court, only the U.S. Supreme Court. In March, a ruling from the Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution to proceed. In considering whether to stay the execution, Governor Perry's office said the facts of this crime must be considered. Facts the spokeswoman described as the most horrific that have ever crossed the governor's desk. 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena and 14-year-old Jennifer Ertman took a shortcut home on that night 15 years ago. A group of teens in the middle of a gang initiation raped them and used a belt and shoe laces to strangle them and stomped on their necks.

ADOLF PENA, VICTIM'S FATHER: She didn't deserve to die. She died in a very, very cruel way. And this guy, he deserves to die.

SYLVESTER: At the time Medellin was 18. He confessed to the crime.


SYLVESTER: One of the gang members already has been executed and another is on death row. For Jose Medellin, everyone now is waiting for word from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas governor's office. They will have the final say and the execution, should it happen, will be sometime between now and midnight Central Time.


PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester.

That brings us to the question in tonight's poll. Do you believe the state of Texas was right to refuse to bow to the pressure of the international court and the white house in the case of Jose Medellin? That's a yes or no vote. Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results later in the broadcast.

Joining me now from Houston is Congressman Ted Poe of Texas. Congressman Poe was a criminal court judge in Harris County, Texas for 22 years. He does not believe the World Court has any jurisdiction in this case.

Thank you very much for joining us.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: Thank you, Kitty.

PILGRIM: You had extreme proximity to this case, did you not?

POE: Yes, it was tried next door to my courtroom. Very familiar with the case, the family and the facts of the case.

PILGRIM: Do you believe that justice will be served if Jose Medellin is executed?

POE: No question about it.

First of all, there's no question about his guilt. There's overwhelming guilt. He confessed. He bragged about it to his other gang members. He carried a souvenir of a Mickey Mouse watch of one of the girls. So guilt is not an issue.

And of course, no one knew that he was a Mexican national. You got to remember, he never asked to see Mexican consulate. His lawyers didn't ask. The consulate didn't mention it. His family didn't mention it at the time of the trial. It never even was mentioned until after the trial, after he got the death penalty and after the case was upheld on appeal.

Ten years later, he comes and says, by the way, I was a Mexican national. So he was not denied the right. No one ever thought that he was a Mexican national. Everybody assumed that he was an American citizen at the time of trial.

So that's the key to the fact that all courts in the United States upheld the conviction, the World Court has no jurisdiction over Texas courts.

PILGRIM: The state's right over jurisdiction of the international court. Is it U.S. sovereignty issue also?

POE: It is. The Supreme Court mentioned that in their opinion in March that the United States is not bound by its decision and specifically the Texas courts are not bound by the World Court.

The World Court has no jurisdiction. The Mexican government decided to sue the United States a long after this trial was over with. You know the trial was tried or the murders occurred 15 years ago. And it's a delay tactic by those that oppose the death penalty under any circumstance. The Hague and the Netherlands has no jurisdiction in this case. Never has.

And Governor Perry is right to allow this execution to take place. As you mentioned earlier in the broadcast, this is one of the worst cases ever. So Medellin is not the choir boy people want to make him out to be. He's certainly not the poster person that the anti-death penalty crowd ought to be talking about.

PILGRIM: Why do you think that President Bush has agreed to re- visit this case, has agreed with the international court?

POE: I don't know. I'm perplexed by that. I would hope that the president would take the side of the victims in this case, the two teenage girls that were murdered but he took the side of the Mexican government and he ordered the Texas courts to revisit this case. They, in all due respect to the president, said you have no jurisdiction to tell us what to do in Texas. The Supreme Court upheld that ruling. That's why this execution is preceding, the president, the secretary of state, the Mexican government and the Hague have no jurisdiction as to what takes place and the Supreme Court has ruled according to our law and our constitution, none of those entities have any say-so what takes place in Texas.

PILGRIM: Let's talk about the role of Congress, because members of the House Judiciary Committee have written, three of them actually, have sent a letter to Texas Governor Perry asking him to stay Medellin's execution until Congress can look into the matter. Let me quote for a moment from the letter. "As the Supreme Court recognized compliance with the Vienna Convention is a critical aspect of national security and foreign policy including the reciprocal treatment of U.S. persons overseas."

The legislation before the house evaluates the impacts on any violations of the Vienna Convention. What do you think of this effort?

POE: I think this is a move by people who are just opposed to the death penalty.

Once again it's important Kitty to remember that he wasn't denied the privilege to talk to his consulate. No one ever mentioned it. He never mentioned that he was a Mexican national. No one knew about it at the trial until years later. Our Supreme Court has ruled that that had no bearing in his case. The evidence was overwhelming. Even if he got to talk to his Mexican consulate, it wouldn't have affected the verdict of the jury. The jury would have assessed the death penalty of this individual as four other juries did with four of the other defendants.

PILGRIM: You know Congressman Poe this has generated a good bit of comment internationally. U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon today called on the U.S. to obey the decision of the international court; also Amnesty International weighing in here. They called on the governor to stay the execution, also citing the World Court ruling. What do you think of this many voices being raised about a case like this?

POE: There are many courts, the World Court and foreign countries, especially the Europeans and the U.N., are opposed to death penalty.

In Texas, we have death penalty. The message is clear. Don't murder people in Texas. We don't care where you're from. If you do, you're going to get the death penalty. That's what the jury has said in this case.

So what all these people say and trying to influence now the verdict, 15 years later is wrong. They have no jurisdiction. They have no say-so. Congress has no bearing what congress says about this case at all.

So, I think the execution should proceed. The fact that he did not request talking to his consulate, I think is the bearing, and the most important issue. You know everyone assumed he was an American citizen and then after the trial is over with, he says he's a Mexican national. So it suited him better to be a Mexican national after the trial was over with and the fact that he did not ask to talk to his consulate, his lawyers didn't, his family didn't, consulate didn't, is justification for why it has no bearing in this case at all.

PILGRIM: Right. We will be following this obviously as it unfolds throughout tonight and tomorrow.

Congressman Poe, I would like to ask you one quick question about Ramos and Compean case. The illegal alien drug smuggler Aldrete Davila is scheduled to sentenced tomorrow. Is there any word from the white house about the letter that was signed by 75 people calling for the president -- members of Congress to call on the president to immediately commute the sentences of Ramos and Compean?

POE: We have not heard a word from the White House. My office hand delivered that letter to the president last week before the break and we have not heard. We have asked in a bipartisan way to commute the sentences, let these two men out based on time served and the facts of the case. We have not heard a word and hope we do.

PILGRIM: Congressman Ted Poe, thank you very much for being with us this evening.

POE: Thank you, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Bill Clinton said he's not a racist. He supports Barack Obama. Why can he not say that the party's presidential candidate is ready to lead? We'll have that next.


PILGRIM: Senators McCain and Obama sparred again today on how to end America's energy crisis.

Joining me now, three of America's top radio hosts. We're joined by Chris Plante of WMAL in Washington, Warren Ballentine of Syndication One and Dom Giordano of WPHT in Philadelphia.

Gentlemen, thanks for being with me.

You know we have this big discussion about energy. It's flip- flopping, changing position, a lot of throwing around of ideas, some a little bit unthought out. I'm not criticizing. I'm just telling you how the facts are.

Let's talk about Senator Obama reversing his position. One thing I'd like to really bring out is that our own Lou Dobbs saw this coming that Obama now supports some offshore drilling. Let's listen to what Lou had to say about this.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: It looks like we're going to see, I would guess, I would put forward, I will hazard a political forecast. We'll see congress and Senator Obama reverse themselves on this issue very quickly.


PILGRIM: Chris, what do you think about that, the reversals?

CHRIS PLANTE, RADIO HOST, WMAL: It's a position Obama had. He had to reverse it. He has reversed every one of his positions that has significance at all.

Look, Americans want energy independence. We want to reduce at least our reliance on Middle Eastern oil in particular. We have the resources here. It's a pretty obvious call. If you need more oil, you drill for more oil. You don't depend on the rest of world to keep providing it to you. We can do it more safely in terms of the environment. We can make ourselves more energy independent. It's in the interest of long term national security to do so, our economic security.

And of course Barack Obama had to many come around on this one. It's as obvious as the day is long. The rest of the democrats are about to jump ship too. Nancy Pelosi will be standing alone. You know this is about keeping gas prices high which is what the democrats want to do through Election Day because what's bad for America is good for democrats.

PILGRIM: You know and this oil that's drilled off shore has to be funneled to U.S. markets. So there really isn't, you know, that much of a down side to tapping to our own resources.

But let me ask, Warren. You know Obama isn't the only one flip- flopping on this, is he?

WARREN BALLENTINE, RADIO HOST, SYNDICATION ONE: No. It's clear that Obama had to change his position. I agree that we had to get off foreign oil. It's ridiculous that we're spending all this money to foreign countries that can't stand Americans yet we're spending money with them every single day.

Now he had to change his position because of due diligence. It's the same thing John McCain did. Although, when he did it he was a statesman not a flip-flopper. I mean he has 26 years of voting against not drilling and all of a sudden, because he thinks I'll get more votes by saying that I think we should drill offshore, he's a statesman. I think this is ridiculous.

You know I call him John McSame because he's sitting here doing the same thing that Bush did in the previous election with the flip- flopping. I think both these guys have changed positions. I won't call them flip-floppers; I'll call them as people who actually look at what is going on, use due diligence and good common sense to do what's best for the American people. That's the more important thing for me. I don't care if you change your mind every minute. If the right decision at the end of the day is that it's going to help America, that's all I really care about.

PILGRIM: Well, that sounds sensible.

Dom, what do you think about?

DOM GIORDANO, RADIO HOST, WPHT: I don't think it sounds that sensible to me. I think that whoever flip-flops first is the statesman and if you flip-flop next, you're the flip-flopper.

So I think that's what's happened here with John McCain but I would say this though, McCain has been much broader and Obama has been much guarded. What interested me today was Obama's strategy which I think is a sound one but I don't think the only strategy is be aggressive and say we should do something. Strategic oil. We should tap into that. Why are the oil companies not tapping on the 68 million acres which I think we've already solved but it appears Kitty at least democrats are saying they'll do something. They have to say they're going to do something.

PILGRIM: They're calling on congress to return to Washington to work on an energy bill during the recess. There's at least two bipartisan energy plans out there in the house and senate. Do you think there's any chance they'll come back, Chris?

PLANTE: I think the democrats will resist coming back, certainly. Again, they're invested in high gas prices at least through Election Day. They're invested, in their own words, in weaning us as a nation off oil. They don't care if the 300 million people of the United States suffer as long as they pick up a couple of seats in the House of Representatives.

The 68 million acres that we're talking about are apparently not the pristine acres, 2,000 acres we're looking to drill on in the Arctic Circle where it's dark for six months of the year because God forbid we would inconvenience the caribou.

The reality is that if oil companies were able to extract oil efficiently in a cost effective way from those 68 million acres, again apparently not pristine, then they would. The oil companies want to drill where the oil is. That's what this is about. Bureaucrats can't tell the oil companies where the oil is. They should rely on the oil companies to determine where the oil is so we can drill for it. We can bring it to market efficiency, bring the price per barrel down, bring the price at the pump down and make us more energy independent. That's not what the democrats want.

BALLENTINE: Kitty, Kitty, this is almost laughable. I'll tell you why it's laughable because this has been in fruition dark I've been on the Earth 35 years. This has been going on over 35 years. We knew we would get to that day. This is laughable. This is about the democrats, this is laughable. This is about our democracy, our federal government --

PLANTE: Please, when did gas hit $4 a gallon --

GIORDANO: Let me referee, guys.

I strangely agree with Warren on this a little bit more in that I think we're in a race between congress, the democrats getting pounded on this and giving the republicans a new thing, why are they recessed. It's a race between them and oil companies on who will be the bigger villa in and the democrats are doing a heck of a job at making themselves the bigger obstacle towards this even than the oil companies in the minds of the American people.

PILGRIM: It's a crying shame that this is so political.

PLANTE: The oil companies simply provide a service that keeps our economy going, that keeps this country going. The villainizing and the demonization of the oil companies is one of the most outrageous bits of propaganda I've ever seen.

BALLANTINE: They make $1,500 a second. You're talking about villainizing? What are you talking about? That's idiotic man. PLANTE: They want to punish the oil companies and the stockholders of the oil companies and the 401(k)s of people across the country because they're trying to demonize an industry that they want to do away with or nationalize.

PILGRIM: Chris, hold that point, we're going to come back in a second. We'll have more with our panel.

First a reminder to vote in today's poll. Do you believe that the state of Texas was right to refuse to bow to the pressure of the international court and the white house in the case of Jose Medellin? Yes or no, caste your vote at We'll bring the results in just a few minutes.

Coming up at the top of the hour, the "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown.

Campbell, what are you working on?


Well, it's been one of the roughest days yet in the presidential campaign. They are going at it, both candidates, over everything from tire pressure gauges to nuclear power plants. We're going to tell you what they're saying and put each candidate's claims to our no bull test.

Also, we return to the scene of one of the worst offshore oil spills in U.S. history. 19 years later, they are still feeling the effects. We'll talk about that.

Plus John McCain's motorcycle stage craft and Paris Hilton for president? We'll explain, Kitty, when we see you at the top of the hour.

PILGRIM: We look forward to that. Thanks very much, Campbell.

Please join Lou Dobbs on the radio Monday through Friday, the Lou Dobbs Show. Go to to find local listings for the Lou Dobbs Show on the radio.

Our panel has much more on the battle for the white house. American athletes begin arriving in Beijing wearing masks to protect themselves from the Olympic city's notorious pollution.


PILGRIM: Some news just in, a government source familiar with the anthrax investigation has just told CNN the case will be declared solved tomorrow. That's when the government is expected to disclose its case against former army scientist Bruce Ivins who committed suicide last week. Now, Ivins was the main suspect in that investigation. But, the government source said the case will not be declared closed. So, again, the government is expected to announce tomorrow that the anthrax case is solved.

We are back with three of America's top radio talk show hosts. We have Chris Plante, Warren Ballentine and Dom Giordano.

Let's talk about former president Bill Clinton. He's always good for a good discussion of some headlines. And this is - I'd like to pull up a clip about his endorsement or lack of endorsement of Senator Obama on ABC's "Good Morning America." Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he ready to be president?

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON, UNITED STATE: You could argue that no one's ever ready to be president. I mean I certainly learned a lot about the job in the first year. You could argue that even if you've been vice president for eight years that no one can ever be fully ready for the pressures of the office and everyone learns something and something different. You could argue that.


PILGRIM: Is that an endorsement?

GIORDANO: You know, I think -- I think he says that his wife was fully qualified to be president right after the bat, but he can't find that in Senator Obama. He has to go down this room path to speak to himself and then the e endorsement was the faintest praise ever. I think he said something about the constitution saying he's able to be president.

PILGRIM: OK Warren, thoughts on this?

BALLENTINE: This is my thoughts on this. I think that President Clinton is walking a very slippery slope when it comes to his legacy, especially with democrats, moderates, and African-American democrats in this country. He's beloved and revered in some areas, but I think that he's tarnishing his image because he's not coming out and fully supporting Obama the way people thought he would.

You know, I'm not going to say that wasn't an endorsements, but I can't sit here and with a straight face say that was 100 percent endorsement there because honestly, it wasn't. It wasn't.

PLANTE: That was not an endorsement.


PLANTE: This is, the Clintons' life is about the Clintons. And that was not the president, the former president endorsing Barack Obama. That was something other than that. And it was -- it seemed like a little swipe was taken at Al Gore there too. Eight years as vice president doesn't necessarily qualify you, but apparently eight years as first lady does, which is kind of an ironic twist on this.

This is about the Clintons and they're still looking at Hillary's prospects for four years from now and eight years from now. They're still playing this game. A lot of us think it's over, but they don't. PILGRIM: All right gentlemen. We have to hold it there. It was always good for a discussion. Dom Giordano, Chris Plante, Warren Ballentine, thanks very much for being with us.

BALLENTINE: Thank you, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Top American athletes are arriving in Beijing and they're ready to win against the city's now infamous Olympic smog. That requires one more piece of equipment, protective masks.


PILGRIM: Well, U.S. athletes tonight are in China's Olympic capital, but not all the athletes are sure they're safe. The latest fallout from Beijing's Olympic pollution, well some U.S. athletes arrived wearing surgical masks. John Vause joins us from Beijing -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, the four members of the U.S. cycle track team touched down at Beijing airport. They are wearing those black masks and are making no apologies, saying it was just a protection against the pollution, to try and ensure they put in their best performance here during the Olympics.

But to put this in context, so far just four athletes out of 10,000 have been seen wearing those masks because of the pollution. But some Japanese, Korean athletes say that they will wear masks during the Olympic games. The British athletes have been given the option of wearing a mask, as well.

It's debatable just how effective they are. Certainly the Chinese don't like it. They think it sends the wrong message about the quality of their air, even though pollution here seems to be getting worse as the opening ceremony approaches.

Not everyone, though, is complaining about the air quality. Australian shooter Russell Mark (ph) says he likes the haze. He thinks it actually helps his performance. And the vast majority of athletes and coaches so far have played down the problem of air quality. In fact, one of their biggest concerns will be the heat as well as the humidity -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thank you, John. John Vause, reporting from Beijing.

Now for tonight's poll results. 95 percent of you believe that the state of Texas was right to refuse to bow to the pressure of the international court and the White House in the case of Jose Medellin.

Time now for some more of your thoughts. Mary in California, "I wish I could be a House member -- leave my work unfinished, go on vacation, and still have a job waiting for me when I returned."

J.D. in Tennessee, "My wife and I both switched to independent. That was the easy part. The hard part is finding someone that will do what they say, but we will keep looking. Keep up the good work."

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. "The Election Center" with Campbell Brown starts right now -- Campbell.