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CNN NEWSROOM

Oil, Sex & Money; The Palins and the Fringe; Ralph Nader Answers Your Questions; Foley Successor in Sex Scandal?

Aired October 14, 2008 - 15:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Coming at you now: a story you will only see here, how some oil companies have been allowed to run amuck, unchecked, at your expense, during the Bush administration.

BOBBY MAXWELL, FORMER GOVERNMENT AUDITOR: I believe it started from the top down. I mean, I believe it was the -- the management we were under was showing favoritism to the oil industry.

SANCHEZ: Corruption, sex, drugs -- the man who could no longer look the other way talks exclusively to CNN.

MAXWELL: They crossed a lot of lines that should never have been crossed.

SANCHEZ: Todd Palin steps in to correct his wife, as she erroneously scolds her own supporters.

You ask, how influential is Todd Palin? And why was he a member of a secessionist party whose founder speaks of -- quote -- "hatred" for the American government and curses this -- "damn flag"? And why did Governor Palin tell the party to keep up the good work.

Also, what is this election doing to us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am mad. I'm really mad.

SANCHEZ: We ask your questions, connected to you through every source we can find, from Twitter to MySpace, to blogs. This is your newscast. And it begins now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

This may this may be one of the most jampacked newscasts that we have brought you in an awful long time. There is a lot in it and some that will probably stir some controversy politically.

But before we do anything else, let's look at the Dow. I understand it's now starting to go down once again. It's a real disappointment for those who watched it yesterday. It's around 206 down at this point. We're going to be checking in on Wall Street with our own Susan Lisovicz as we go. And we will also have it there in the corner of the screen for you as we go.

But, first, this -- speaking of the economy, there is nothing that makes Americans more angry than knowing that members of their government were doing their job, that they were cozy or literally in bed with big business, in this case, the oil industry. That's exactly what seems to have been happening in Denver. What you are about to see is an exclusive report where you're going to hear from an insider, who actually says what he was seeing and how fed up he began and how finally he decided to spill the beans.

He says it has been happening over the last six or seven years, as he has been measuring it.

Here now, a CNN exclusive. And the reporter is Dan Simon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By all accounts, Bobby Maxwell was a hard-nosed, by-the-book government auditor. For 22 years, he examined thousands of records to see if oil and gas companies were cheating taxpayers.

The office responsible at the Interior Department was small, only about 60 people, but the stakes were enormous. It collected billions in royalty fees from oil and gas companies.

MAXWELL: To protect American public interest, which is the revenues that these oil companies are generating.

SIMON: But someone killed Bobby Maxwell's career. He says it is because he blew the whistle. The Interior Department says it is because his job was reorganized. Either way, he says, the office he worked in was rotten with corruption.

MAXWELL: It is like you're reading about a small cult or something.

SIMON (on camera): It sounds like a crazy fraternity party.

MAXWELL: It sounds like they forgot they worked for the government.

SIMON (voice-over): The question is, did the apparent culture of sex, drugs, gifts, and trips in that government office mean oil companies got off cheap and taxpayers cheated?

A scathing report from the Interior Department's inspector general says, more than a dozen government workers engaged in unethical behavior and got too close to oil industry executives.

MAXWELL: They crossed a lot of lines that never should have been crossed. They lost all objectivity.

SIMON: According to the I.G. report, nearly one-third of the staff in Maxwell's office received gifts and gratuities. The investigation unearthed thousands of e-mails, some of them stunning, one from a pipeline company rep inviting government workers to a tailgating party: "Have you and the girls meet at my place at 6:00 p.m. for bubble baths and final prep. Just kidding."

The report goes on to describe a wild office atmosphere in which staff members admitted using cocaine and marijuana.

MAXWELL: They lost their true north. These people obviously forgot what their purpose was. They forget who they were.

SIMON: Bobby Maxwell says he knows how and when this mess began. About seven or eight years ago, this registered independent says, right about the time the Bush administration took charge, he noticed an attitude shift at the Interior Department. He said he was discouraged from aggressively auditing oil companies.

MAXWELL: It became a culture where laws, regulations were not applied, often not -- not enforced.

SIMON: In one case, Maxwell says his Washington boss ordered him, not once, but twice, to stop looking into a government contract with Shell Oil. The government paid Shell to transport oil from offshore platforms. And, inexplicably, he said it had tripled the fees it charged the government.

(on camera): Why would a government worker be telling an auditor, don't investigate, don't do your job?

MAXWELL: I believe it started from the top down. I mean, I believe it was the management we were under was showing favoritism to the oil industry.

SIMON (voice-over): The company told us, Shell pays the same rate any other shipper does, and that it has never engaged in fraudulent transactions or entered into sham contracts, as Mr. Maxwell alleges.

Maxwell was a dogged auditor. After recovering a half-billion dollars for the government, former Secretary of Interior Gale Norton honored him with a big award.

And, then, three years ago, his career came to an abrupt end.

(on camera): Bobby Maxwell says his persistence cracking down on big oil cost him his job. He says the Interior Department became so cozy with the oil industry that they no longer wanted him around. Calling it a reorganization, the agency let him go. He chose quite the place to retire, settling just outside of Honolulu. He says it was just a matter of time until all the abuses would be finally exposed.

MAXWELL: They worked for the United States government, and their job is to protect the United States taxpayers' interests. And it is like they completely forgot that, like they just became part of the oil companies. SIMON (voice-over): The Interior Department said, it could not comment on Maxwell's specific allegations or removal, saying his former supervisor no longer works for department either.

But the department says there is no evidence taxpayers lost money as a result of unethical behavior and the cozy relationship between government workers and the oil and gas industry documented in the inspector general's report.

Bobby Maxwell doubts that and says he would love to put all the royalty records under his magnifying glass.

Dan Simon, CNN, Honolulu.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: It is important for me to note that Bobby Maxwell has also fired a whistle-blower lawsuit against another oil company, Kerr- McGee. In it, he claims the company defrauded taxpayers out of millions in oil royalty payments. The company denies that accusation, I should share.

If Maxwell wins, the government would receive about $40 million in additional revenue, and Maxwell would be entitled to about a third of that -- important to point that out.

There's another story that we're following for you today. It has to do with Governor Palin and her husband, Todd Palin, first, this video I want you to look at. She is in Richmond, Virginia. She's campaigning, but she seems to think that there are protesters in the audience, when, in fact, they are her supporters. What they are chanting is, louder, louder. She thinks they are screaming at him -- or at her -- so, she responds thus.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Sarah! Sarah! Sarah! Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would hope at least that those protesters have the courage and the honor of thanking our veterans for giving them the right to protest.

TODD PALIN, HUSBAND OF SARAH PALIN: They just can't hear you back there. That's why they're doing the hollering.

S. PALIN: OK. I'm doing that.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: They were not protesters. And Todd Palin came to her defense in that moment and helped her out. So, it leads us to the question many of you were asking us to look into yesterday: Who is Todd Palin? What is his influence? What is his tie to AIP, the Alaska Independence Party?

We have been asking questions. We have invited a guest to explain this to us. And it is coming up right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the world headquarters of CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Getting into this topic now, one we have been in contact with the McCain camp about. And they have been trying to see if they can perhaps come on to this newscast to respond. We will continue trying. As of when we last checked, they weren't going to be coming on and talking to us.

It is the subject of AIP, the Alaska Independence Party and whatever association or link there may be between Governor Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd Palin, and the Alaska Independence Party. Why is the Alaska Independence Party important?

It is a party that wants to separate from the United States of America. They are a separatist movement within the party.

I want to read you now some comments from the founder of the Alaska Independence Party. His name is Joe Vogler. These are the quotes from him. I will read them to you.

I think we can put them up on the screen as I read them to you as well. He says: "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government. And I won't be buried under their damn flag," referring to the United States government.

I think we have another one here. Let's go to the second one, Dan, if you have that one. He goes on to say: "My government is my worst enemy. I am going to fight them with any means at hand."

Number three, let's put Mr. Vogler's third comment up. He says: "I hope we don't have the take human life, but if they go on tramping our property rights, look out. We are ready to die."

Joining us now is an investigative journalist who has worked on this story, investigated the AIP and Sarah and Todd Palin's relationship to them. He is David Neiwert. He is with "Salon" magazine. And, just to be fear, as we always do when we talk to people from different periodicals, he happens to works for a periodical that leans to the left.

Is that correct?

DAVID NEIWERT, SALON.COM: That is correct.

SANCHEZ: OK.

I guess we should start with, what is the AIP? What did you find out about them? NEIWERT: Well, what we have known about the AIP for some time is that they were basically the Alaskan contingent and the patriot movement, which, in the lower 48 states, manifested itself as people who form militias, tax protesters, constitutionalists, and that sort of thing.

SANCHEZ: Not comparing them to actions, but comparing them in terms of ideology, not actions, remember, but ideology, are they similar to the group that blew up the Murrah Building?

NEIWERT: Well, that was -- of course, that was an individual lone wolf who was associated with the patriots, but, yes, they basically come from the same sort of ideological background. That's correct.

SANCHEZ: Are they dangerous?

NEIWERT: Potentially, mostly when they feel that they are being threatened. But, for the most part, they are a pretty benign organization as far as that goes.

SANCHEZ: But they believe in not being a part of the United States. They want to separate from the United States. And from reading Mr. Vogler's comments and others, they, fair to say, despise the United States government?

NEIWERT: Yes, I think that is pretty fair to say. Even today, that is pretty much a standard feeling in the AIP.

SANCHEZ: Todd Palin was a member of this organization; is that correct?

NEIWERT: That is correct, although, when we talked to Mark Chryson, who was the AIP's chairman between 1997 and 2002 and who was a pretty good friend of Sarah Palin's, he described Todd Palin's activities in the AIP as being pretty low-level. Basically, he signed up, joined the party, and then was not active at all.

SANCHEZ: Sarah Palin was not a member of this organization, at least not in terms of anything we have seen or anything that you have written about. However, she does have some ties to either members or its causes; is that correct?

NEIWERT: That is correct.

When she was both a city councilman in Wasilla, as well as the mayor of Wasilla, she was pretty closely associated with this faction, the AIP faction in Wasilla. Mark Chryson, the AIP chairman, lived in Wasilla. And there were some other people involved in city politics at this time as well, including a John Birch Society named Steven Stoll. And Stoll and Chryson tended to work in promoting sort of far- right agenda items before the city council, including -- they took down a local gun control ordinance that Palin was actually involved in coordinating their appearance before the city council in order to kill it. SANCHEZ: So, when she was mayor of Wasilla, did she actually help somebody become part of her city council based on their affiliation or the fact that they were a member of the party?

NEIWERT: Not so much that -- it was Steven Stoll she attempted to appoint to the city council. Actually, it was one of her very first acts as mayor. The very first city council meeting she held as mayor, she tried to put Steven Stoll in one of the two seats that was vacated by her election and another city councilman's....

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: And he was an AIP member?

NEIWERT: As far as I know, we are not sure if Stoll was a AIP member. He may well have been, but he was closely involved with Mark Chryson. The two of them worked together.

And what we do know about Stoll was that he was involved in promoting John Birch Society activity in the area.

SANCHEZ: And John Birch Society you would characterize as how, for members of our audience that don't know who they are?

NEIWERT: Well, John Birch Society is basically a far-right- leaning organization, believes in -- has believed in conspiracy theories involving first the communist -- supposed communist conspiracy to overthrow the government and then in the 1990s promoting the notion of a new world order conspiracy to destroy the United States government.

And in that respect, they were closely affiliated with patriot groups like the AIP and the militia of Montana and outfits like that.

SANCHEZ: Got it.

We are going to do this now. We're going to continue this interview, because there is certainly a lot of stuff to get to, certainly involving someone who now could be the next vice president of the United States. And there is some video I want to share now with our audience that we are going to look at it as you and I are off of the screen. And there she is.

This is a personal message from Sarah Palin as governor of the state of Alaska to the AIP. When we come back, we are going to have Mr. Neiwert's comments on it, and we will let you listen to it as you watch it in full.

Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We are going to share with you "The Fix" today. "The Fix" is where we give you your daily fix of some of the news that you may have missed, like what was said today on "The View." What did Jon Stewart said say on the -- speaking of Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show," he is a part of "The Fix" today. "The Fix" involves what is going on, on the Dow. We will be watching it for you.

And then the story involving Sarah Palin, you are about to see for yourself a personal message sent by Governor Palin to the AIP, the Alaska Independence Party.

And we have received a comment from the McCain camp. They are not at all happy that we are even doing this story, but did not send somebody to talk to us on the air. We will hope they will change their mind.

And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back to world headquarters of CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

We have been getting a ton of your responses on these stories that we are following today involving -- including the one that we are covering now. And that is a story about Sarah Palin and Todd Palin and their association, if any, with the Alaska Independence Party.

We have just received some comments within the last hour from the McCain camp.

And, to be fair, I want to make sure I read it to you in full. Here it is.

Let's over my shoulder, Robert. I put it up here, so you can see it on this board. Can you see it right there?

"CNN is furthering a smear with this report, no different than if your network ran a piece" -- let me get that out of the way there, that blinking. It's making me crazy.

I will start over.

"CNN is furthering a smear with this report, no different than if your network ran a piece questioning Senator Obama's religion. No serious news organization has tried to make this connection. And it is unfortunate that CNN would be the first."

This is from Michael Goldfarb. He's a McCain/Palin spokesman who we have been in contact with.

He goes on to say: "We are trying to arrange to have one of the governor's people come on the air and respond in the event you do run this piece."

Well, obviously, we are doing this report. And we would welcome anyone from the governor's office if they want to come forward and give us their side of the story. And if there's any other statement that you would like us to read, we would be happy to read it on the air.

We should note, by the way, that we have been in contact with the McCain people on this story since 9:30 this morning, when we first started going through some of this information.

All right. Let us continue now our interview with David Neiwert.

And, as we continue the interview, there's another piece of video I would like for you to see. This is the video of Sarah Palin in 2008 sending a personal message from the governor's office to the Alaska Independence Party. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: I am Governor Sarah Palin.

And I am delighted to welcome you to the 2008 Alaskan Independence Party Convention in the Golden Heart City, Fairbanks.

Your party plays an important role in our state's politics. I have always said that competition is so good, and that applies to political parties as well. I share your party's vision of upholding the constitution of our great state.

My administration remains focused on reining in government growth, so individual liberty and opportunity can expand. I know you agree with that. We have a great promise to be a self-sufficient state, made up of the hardest-working, most grateful Americans in our nation.

So, as your convention gets under way, I hope that you all are inspired by remembering that, all those years ago, it was in this same city that Alaska's constitution was born. And it was founded on hope and trust and liberty and opportunity.

I carry that message of opportunity forward in my administration, as we continue to move our state ahead and create positive change. So, I say good luck on a successful and inspiring convention.

Keep up the good work, and God bless you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: All right. As we understand it, that was 2008.

Let's bring Mr. David Neiwert back in with Salon.com.

Mr. Neiwert, we understand that she also actually attended in person the convention in 2006 and 2000, right?

NEIWERT: I'm not so sure about 2000.

SANCHEZ: All right.

NEIWERT: We haven't confirmed that.

But certainly we know she was at the 2006 convention, because she was campaigning there for governor. And the AIP did not have a gubernatorial candidate that year. And its members essentially endorsed Sarah as their party's standard-bearer. SANCHEZ: You heard moments ago when I read to our viewers this comment that came to us from the McCain camp.

NEIWERT: Yes.

SANCHEZ: They were watching this conversation that you and I were having.

And they say, this would be no different -- quote -- "than if your network ran a piece questioning Senator Obama's religion."

Is this in any way a religious organization, the AIP?

NEIWERT: Not at all. It is purely political. It's secular.

Some of the members are very definitely fundamentalist Christians, but the AIP, itself, is not involved in religious issues, except to the extent that it is involved with the Constitution Party of the United States. This is the larger national umbrella that they organize under. And the Constitution Party is definitely a theocratic party.

SANCHEZ: Why -- let me ask you, why are you doing -- why you think the American people should know about this?

NEIWERT: Well, a couple of reasons.

One of the things my partner on this story, Max Blumenthal, points out is that the AIP has specifically had a program of infiltration aimed at getting members and their sort of camp followers promoting within the other political parties. And, obviously, the Republican Party is a lot closer in Alaska to the AIP than the Democratic Party is.

SANCHEZ: Are they responsible for her ascendance, then, in any way, or...

NEIWERT: We have no evidence of that.

But we do have the chairman of the AIP back in 2004 talking about Sarah Palin as an example of the kind of person that they want to have rising through the ranks and infiltrating other parties.

SANCHEZ: Infiltrating, interesting choice of words.

NEIWERT: Yes.

SANCHEZ: David Neiwert with Salon.com, thank you, sir, for taking time and taking us through this investigative piece in regards to Max Blumenthal, who I know is your associate in writing this as well.

NEIWERT: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: A new CNN poll of polls has the numbers shifting somewhat, but in whose direction? We are going to have that for you. And, also, there is this guy. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm mad. I'm really mad. It is time that you two are representing us. And we are mad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: "We are mad." Who -- what does that say about all of us? What is this election doing to all of us, as Americans?

That and a whole lot more when we come back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm mad. I'm really mad. It's time that you two are representing us and we are mad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: We are mad. Who -- what does that say about all of us? What is this election doing to all of us as Americans? That and a whole lot more when we come back.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.

I'm Rick Sanchez here in the World Headquarters of CNN.

We've got a lot going on today. And, man, have you guys been involved with this newscast. I can't keep up with the number of messages and responses that you have been sending, but I'm going to try and share some right now, as a matter of fact.

Let's start with MySpace. Johnny B. Good, if you could, I am -- this is striker (ph), saying: "I am a McCain supporter, but I want to know about the V.P.'s connection to AIP. We must hear all sides of the coin."

And the next under that is from Renee. And she says: "Wow! Joe Volger sounds like a terrorist. I hope the Palins aren't associated with AIP. That would blow yet another smear against Obama."

In fact, Leon Justin, on the other side, is saying to us -- on the Twitter board -- he's saying: "McCain-Palin lying about smears? The pot calling the kettle black."

And once again, we welcome you back.

Speaking of situations and things getting difficult and hard on the campaign trail, we showed you yesterday what happened when Senator McCain had the courage and the distinction, according to most who watched that, of taking the microphone away from a woman who called his opponent a terrorist.

Well, Barack Obama was faced with a similar situation.

How did he handle it?

Watch for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent has made his choice. Last...

(BOOS)

OBAMA: Now, we don't need that. Last week -- we just need to vote. That's what we need to do.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Carol Costello is going to prepare a report for us that you are about to watch right now, which is interesting in that it holds a mirror up to all of us and maybe asks us this question as a nation, how is this campaign -- so heated for so long -- affecting us all?

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the real Sarah Palin please stand up?

DAVID LETTERMAN, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: The "Bridge To Nowhere."

JAY LENO, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: And Barack Obama has bought a half hour of air time on CBS...

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just 21 days until the big day, election day, and the political noise is inescapable -- ads, news, cable, the Web -- even entertainment shows like "The Insider".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Sarah Palin getting her own prime time show?

COSTELLO: And "Access Hollywood" are covering the McCain-Palin- Biden-Obama drama.

MIKE MOCERI, MICHIGAN VOTER: I am worn out by this presidential election. I want it to be over with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are tired, especially of things that are important.

COSTELLO: 2008 may go down as the most emotionally draining elections of all time. Political observers say it's forced voters to think about racism, sexism and ageism at a time Americans are standing on the edge of an economic cliff wondering if they'll fall off.

(on camera): So when you go into that voting booth on November 4th and you pull the lever, how will you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relief. Relieved.

COSTELLO (voice-over): For that voter, O-B-A-M-A will spell relief. But for some conservative voters, it will spell D-O-O-M.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm mad. I'm really mad. It's time that you two are representing us. And we are mad.

COSTELLO: Analysts say his anger is, in part, fear. Republicans have either held the White House or controlled Congress since 1994. Drew Weston is author of "The Political Brain" and a Democratic consultant.

DREW WESTEN, AUTHOR, "THE POLITICAL BRAIN": What we're really seeing on the right right now is a mixture of fear and anxiety. I mean the fear is, is Obama really someone we can trust?

And the anger and the hatred that have gotten elicited are really about he's not one of us.

COSTELLO: In Detroit, Michigan, some African-American voters feel fear, too. This voter told me she's undecided and is afraid to talk about it because of ugly rumors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to say because I heard about someone getting shot over their presidential choice.

COSTELLO: Other voters desperately want to hear how the candidates will solve the country's problems. But with all the noise, it's hard.

HENRY KRZYSTOWCZYK, MICHIGAN VOTER: You cannot determine what is fact and what is rhetoric. I feel that if when I do vote, I won't have -- I won't have that feeling that I voted for the right candidate. And there will always be a doubt because I don't know.

COSTELLO: Analysts say election 2008 will only get more intense. Three weeks to go. Can you handle it?

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: There's a big story that crossed just this afternoon that we're going to be sharing with you.

Do you remember Mark Foley? He was the Florida congressman who had to -- well, he was shamed out of his job after apparently trying to hit on some Congressional pages, right?

He was replaced by a congressman named Tim Mahoney.

Guess who's involved in a sex scandal today, that you'll be getting the details on when we come back?

Oh, and this -- Ralph Nader. Put up his picture. I think he's in the seat. He's going to be joining us in just a little bit.

Mr. Nader, thanks so much you so much for being with us, sir.

We'll be joining you in a little bit, but not with my questions -- with Twitter questions and Facebook and MySpace, to Ralph Nader, when we come back.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.

The CNN poll of polls is out. And here is how it stands, by golly. It's Obama at 50, McCain at 43, undecided 7.

Let me just give you a little perspective on this. Exactly a week ago, we checked and it was 49 to 43. So now it's 50 to 43 -- not a lot of change, but some change nonetheless.

Ralph Nader is joining us now, our independent -- he's an Independent candidate for the presidency. He and I have had a lot of conversations over the last year. Usually they have been my questions.

Today, I'm turning it over to the viewers, Mr. Nader. I'm going to let them ask you questions.

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK.

SANCHEZ: The first one, it's coming from MySpace. It is: "What would you do about this voter fraud at ACORN?"

This is from Garvin.

I'm sure you've heard about that voter fraud situation that we've been looking into, sir.

NADER: Well, it's contentious. And if there's evidence, then the law has to be enforced. If it's rumor, then they should be exonerated.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you this one now, this is interesting. This is coming from a viewer who's watching us now and she says: "What will the economic bailout mean for us as consumers, not homeowners or investors?"

Plain consumers, she emphasizes.

NADER: Well, a growing recession, driven, in part, by the Wall Street crooks, swindlers and speculators, are going to drive down wages and increase unemployment and you have less to spend, for starters. And if you've got some savings that you use once in a while to spend for the necessities of life, they have been depreciated. In some places, they've been lost because of the banks' excesses and orgies of speculation.

SANCHEZ: Here's Slade. She wants to know this from you, Mr. Nader: "Since it's hard to get a student loan and tuition prices are going up, what will you do to make sure that everyone will have a chance to get a higher education?"

NADER: Well, in Western Europe has a tuition-free university. They treat it like high school.

Why can't we?

If Finland charges a student 56 euros, or $83 for a year of education at their university, why can't the richest country in the world?

Because we're spending too much on the bloated, wasteful military budget; too many soldiers in Western Europe and East Asia; and too much of your tax dollars going for those crooked $700 billion bailout recipients in Wall Street.

SANCHEZ: Here's an interesting question, because this has to do not only with our situation in the war on terror, but also for money we spend for -- every time we go and fill up our gas tanks. This is from narkisso17 (ph). He wants to know, Mr. Nader: "How legitimate do you think the Democrats and Republican candidates' plans are for creating energy independence via renewable energy?"

That's a good question, isn't it?

NADER: A lot of rhetoric, but they are beholden in campaign cash and influence to the big fossil fuel companies -- Exxon and Peabody Coal and the nuclear companies who have these big lobbies in Washington that we've been fighting year after year. And, you know, renewable energy and more efficient motor vehicles, lighting, air conditioning systems, appliances all reduce the sales of these giant oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries. They don't like that.

And that's why we have to have a popular movement represented by the Nader-Gonzales ticket -- check out VoteNader.org -- you will see how systemic our redirections are for country that a majority of the people support, unlike Obama's and McCain's proposals.

SANCHEZ: Let me throw you some red meat here.

NADER: Yes?

SANCHEZ: This is coming from sean808080 (ph). He says: "Ask Nader if he had free reign to do what was necessary, what would he do to Wall Street?"

NADER: Well... SANCHEZ: I can't wait to hear your answer.

NADER: Yes. An expanded criminal prosecution into the crooks and those who deceived and swindled trillions of dollars from worker pension monies and mutual funds and enriched themselves, jumped ship into a golden lifeboat. We shouldn't let them get away. They should disgorge.

I was in front of the U.S. Treasury Department just a few minutes ago, Rick. And I delivered a letter to Secretary Paulson, who was the head of Goldman Sachs and got out with half a billion two years ago. And I said, if you want public trust and confidence in what you're doing, you better contribute $200 million of your own money and not just put the whole brunt on the taxpayers.

The other thing is to make the speculators pay for their own bailout -- 1/10 of 1 percent of security transactions this year can produce $500 billion. FDR had it. It's in Western Europe. We helped finance the Civil War with a stock transaction tax.

Congress jumped ship, cowardly, because Bush didn't want it.

SANCHEZ: Ralph Nader, we'll leave it at that -- Independent candidate for president.

Thanks again for coming on and talking not just to me, but to the tens of thousands of viewers who follow us online, as well.

NADER: Thank your viewers, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Appreciate it.

Mark Preston is going to be joining us in just a little bit. Preston On Politics for the latest on another Congressional sex scandal.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back, everyone.

I'm Rick Sanchez.

So many of you are into this particular newscast that we're presenting today.

Let's go ahead and get at least one more of your responses in before we go to this next segment.

This is in Facebook and it's Kelvin Morrison, who says: "Look, I'm really tired of the bickering. I personally don't care who supported what terrorist way back when whenever. Who's going to stop the terrorists in our wallets?"

Interesting question. Mark Preston is joining us now with Preston On Politics.

And the subject today -- boy, I'll tell you, this one this one -- this one really takes the cake. Mark Foley, who was the Florida congressman who apparently was caught up in a scandal regarding Congressional pages. He leaves office and he is replaced by Congressman Tim Mahoney, who, as you're about to find out, has now his own scandal of his own -- go ahead, Mark Preston.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: He does, Rick.

I'll tell you, this is certainly a political bombshell. But I'll tell you, I don't think the impact beyond Southeast Florida is going to be really felt in the election. Really, the basics are is that there are these allegations that this congressman had an affair with one of his staffers and then fired her and tried to pay her off -- over a $120,000 payoff. And, you know, of course, three weeks before the election, this is what a lot of people would call an October surprise.

But I'll tell you beyond what happens in Southeast Florida, I don't think this is going to have reverberations. You know, right now professional handicappers, Rick, are saying that Democrats could pick up between 25 and 30 Republican seats. That would expand their majority right now from about 235 up to the mid-260s.

For this gentleman, Tim Mahoney, this is definitely devastating, both professionally and personally.

And guess what?

The handicappers are now saying that his seat is up for grabs. We'll have to see in three weeks, but I'll tell you, another sex bombshell...

SANCHEZ: Yes, but we -- I should add this. We heard all the -- the Democrats barking about how the Republicans were behaving when all these sex scandals were going on. This time it's a Democrat involved in a sex scandal, just to be clear. Let's put a punctuation on that, right?

PRESTON: Oh, no -- absolutely no question. But let's talk about it just from political -- you know, political terms. There are only three weeks left. And because the economy is such an overriding issue, unlike the Foley situation, which really added to the Republican angst back in 2006, this is an isolated incident -- or so we're led to believe -- that I don't think we're going to feel elsewhere. But, look, this gentleman has a lot of explaining to do and a good chance of actually losing his seat.

SANCHEZ: As Ricky said to Lucy, he has a lot of explaining to do.

Thanks so much.

Mark Preston with Preston On Politics. And on and on it goes. When we come back, talking about ACORN and other voter irregularities out there, which we are going to take on as a task to bring you daily, if we have to.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: ACORN is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. They're supposed to be going out and trying to get people to vote in upcoming elections, except what they've been doing, according to most, has been dastardly in that they have been actually signing up people who, in many cases, don't even exist.

Why?

Some investigative reporters have found out it's because they get paid by how many people they sign up. There is a huge investigation that we have been doing on this. And we'll continue to do it and continue to bring you the updates.

But, by the way, there are other voter irregularity issues that we're going to be following up on.

Josh Levs is good enough to join us now to talk about some of those.

And one of them has to do with the idea that voters could literally be purged from the voter rolls. We've seen it happen in the past. Some people would argue it happened in Florida.

JOSHUA LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And that's what some people are talking about, especially now. Apparently states are doing it by mistake. I don't have the -- did you see this from the "New York Times?"

SANCHEZ: No.

LEVS: It's kind of amazing what they're reporting on. It just came out the other day and now it's getting a lot of attention.

Basically what they're saying is these states have a responsibility to go through their list, right, because after the debacle of 2001, it was this huge mess, and...

SANCHEZ: They want to make sure everybody is on the up and up.

LEVS: Exactly right. So in 2002, they created this new law. And one of the things you're supposed to do is purge people who aren't supposed to be on the list, right -- people who are there multiple times under different addresses, things like that.

Well, instead, what they're doing, according to this article, is too much.

I put together a graphic here from the "New York Times". Guys, can we show that?

I want people to see the lead. That's what they're saying -- tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law.

And let's go to the next one, just because I want to see that this is an accident. They're saying these actions do not seem to be coordinated by one party or the other, nor do they appear to be the result of election officials intentionally breaking rules. But, Rick, they're saying that they're apparently the result of mistakes in the way that they're handling all these lists right now.

And this is a big deal, because these states are going through these lists and according to "The Times" reporting, they're taking off people who are eligible voters who could show up and no longer be on those lists.

SANCHEZ: We're going to be looking into voter fraud. We're going to be doing voter suppression, all of this stuff. You're going to be helping us with it. And as we move forward, we want to make this a task that we're going to bring to you from now until the election.

Speaking of election, someone who covers it every single day, and has for years, Wolf Blitzer joins us from "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what he's going to be talking about.

Wolf, what you got?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Twenty-one days and counting, Rick.

Thanks very much.

The big news -- the U.S. government buying shares in nine American banks. Thousands more are expected to follow. What does it mean for you, your retirement, your paychecks? We're breaking it all down.

Also, John McCain unveils a new economic plan. Barack Obama did the same thing this week.

So what's the difference? Is one better than the other? You'll decide for yourself.

And we'll have more on that unbelievable firsthand look at Americans involved in a battle in which two soldiers lost their lives -- a rare glimpse into the horror of war and why this video you're going to be seeing in "THE SITUATION ROOM" is bringing up new questions about friendly fire.

All that, Rick, and a lot more coming up at the top of the hour.

SANCHEZ: All right. Thanks so much, Wolf.

We appreciate it. Well, those of you who are watching us now and are at work, we have somebody on our staff who actually is paid to watch "The View," "Carlos Mencia," "The Daily Show" to pick out the best parts and bring them to you. That's what we call Your Daily Fix. It's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: All right. As you know, we have been doing a series of stories today on AIP, the Alaska Independence Party, and whatever relationship Sarah and Todd Palin may have had with it or not.

Now, we have just received a statement from Lynette Clark. She speaks for the Alaska Independence Party. And there it is: "We were jazzed. She was an Alaskan first" -- referring to Sarah Palin. "We are more conservative than the Republican Party. We are not a terrorist group, as some have said. We are committed to states' rights platform" -- a states' rights platform.

"Alaska is a state. As a state, is still very young."

Again, that's from Lynette Clark, president of the Alaskan Independence Party, sent to us in response to what we've been doing.

We've also been getting a lot of comments from you.

Let's go to those.

This is on MySpace moments ago. A viewer says: "Since McCain loves to talk about Bill Ayers, let's meet the terrorist friend John McCain loves getting cozy with -- Gordon Liddy."

Now, let's go the other one underneath it. This is someone who is not at all happy with our coverage today: "You cannot be serious with this piece on AIP. You should be embarrassed. Joe Vogler isn't even alive."

With that said, what else has been going on today?

We have somebody who watches it for you. Here is your Daily Fix.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know those numbers on the right side of your screen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Dow, the Dow Jones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I think it's called the uppy downey index.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch that all the time. It's a real time running indicator of the health of the economy. It and it alone reflects not only our country's well-being, but your value as a human being, as well. (APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, the opening bell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're down about 700 points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...into positive territory, up 300 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.

What are you doing?

Yes, yes, yes. No, no, no, no.

Wyatt, do you...

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...do you even own -- Wyatt, do you even actually own any stock?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Susan Lisovicz is joining us now as we watch the stocks along with her.

Susan, what you got?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I -- well, I want to do this, that's what I'm doing most of the time when I'm watching -- watching these numbers.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

SANCHEZ: All right. Susan Lisovicz, thanks so much.

We'll continue to watch the opening bell and so will Wolf Blitzer.

He is joining us now from New York in the -- I guess a different "SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf, to you.

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