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AMERICAN MORNING

Rescuing the Detroit Three; Obama Mends Fences With Rivals; McCain's Legacy; Banks Getting Your Billions

Aired November 18, 2008 - 06:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Begging for a car deal. Big shots from America's three biggest automakers come to Washington. Save us. But is America's broken down car industry even worth fixing?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: What are the facts? What is the evidence?

CHETRY: Plus, pirates seize a hundred million dollar oil tanker. The biggest ship ever hijacked. Too far away to affect you?

Pirates attack there, you pay for it here on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Welcome. Glad you're with us on this Tuesday, November 18th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

Ford is selling its 20 percent -- 20 percent at least of its stake in Mazda to help raise cash. The sale valued at $543 million. The shares will be bought by Mazda along with several other businesses and insurance companies. The news comes the same day that Ford CEO will be on Capitol Hill to press for an emergency loan. America's number two automaker helps save the Japanese carmaker from bankruptcy 12 years ago.

Calmer winds and cooler temperatures helping firefighters beat back flames in Southern California's hills and mountains. And as the smoke lifts, it is revealing a picture of destruction. Sixty-five square miles roughly the size of Washington, D.C. reduced to smoldering ashes. Nearly a thousand homes destroyed.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seeking federal disaster aid from Washington. Investigators have eliminated all accidental causes in one of the three wildfires and are looking for a possible arsonist.

More than 100 retired generals and admirals are calling for the military to repeal its "Don't ask Don't Tell" policy so that gay men and women can serve openly in the military. That's according to a California think tank that supports the movement.

"Don't ask Don't Tell" was signed into law during the Clinton administration back in 1993. It stopped the practice of asking potential service members that they are gay, but still require the dismissal of openly gay service members.

CHETRY: Back to our top story now in Washington. Gearing up for a showdown as the big shots for the Detroit's big three come to Washington to make their case for a $25 billion emergency loan. Now that money would come from the $700 billion bailout, but not everyone agrees it's the best road to take.

Critics, in fact saying that bankruptcy may offer the hope of creating a leaner, more efficient auto industry. That has a lame-duck Congress headed for a stalemate over this plan, and CNN's Brianna Keilar is live in Washington.

Brianna, Senate Democrats put out this proposal legislation yesterday. What is the reaction today and moving forward about whether or not the big three automakers are going to get any money from Washington?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're certainly going to see as the morning goes on here in Washington, Kiran, but of course, this whole thing is hung up in the Senate where Democrats need 60 votes to move forward with this plan. So they're trying to win over some Republicans by making automakers who take any rescue money they may get making them give the government a long-term plan that shows they're writing what has gone so wrong with the auto industry.

Now, this legislation would also ban companies from paying dividends. It will also ban those golden parachutes we've talked so much about. It would also end bonuses for executives who make more than $250,000 per year. But at this point, Kiran, not enough for the White House.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino saying that this fails to require automakers to make the hard decisions needed to restructure and become viable, Kiran.

CHETRY: And also, it seems like there's a big sticking point about where this money should come from to help the big three. Is it from the $700 billion bailout? Is it from another program that was approved to help automakers? What's going on with that?

KEILAR: Yes. That's still the sticking point. As you said, by and large, Democrats wanting to break off a piece of that $700 billion Wall Street bailout to put the bill for automakers. But Republicans generally speaking and the White House want to redirect an existing $25 billion loan that automakers are supposed to use to make cars more fuel efficient.

We're hearing from inside both parties that the chances Democrats can successfully push that plan I just described to you through this week that the chances are slim. There's a lot of Republican opposition, opposition from President Bush who, you know, he maybe in his final days, Kiran, as president, but he still wields that veto pen.

CHETRY: All right. It will be interesting to see how it turns out today.

Brianna Keilar for us in Washington. Thanks so much. Also, stick around. We're going to hear from both sides of the debate today. Next hour, Republican Senator James Inhofe. He's a fierce opponent of the auto industry bailout. He's going to join us.

Then we're also going to be speaking with Ford Motor CEO, Alan Mulally. He tells us why his company needs this government lifeline. We're going to ask him some tough questions about your tax dollars.

And just down the hall from that Senate Committee, the president's top two moneymen will try to drum up support for the ever evolving, I guess we could say, $700 billion bailout, when they testify before the House Financial Services Committee.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke are expected to face some tough questions about why the administration ditched the original plan to buy up bad mortgages instead using taxpayer money to jumpstart lending through credit cards, car loans and student loans.

ROBERTS: Well, happening now in Chicago. Aides to President-elect Barack Obama poring over some of former President Clinton's finances and overseas links. It's part of the vetting process for his wife Hillary as a possible pick for Secretary of State.

CNN's Ed Henry is working the story. He's live in Chicago for us this morning.

Ed, what are you hearing behind the scenes about Hillary Clinton's potential future here with the campaign?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John. Senior Democrats are saying all this scrutiny of Bill Clinton suggest to them that the president-elect is very serious about making Hillary Clinton a top contender for the job as secretary of state.

And what we're seeing early in this transition process is that he's also being very deliberate about pulling in two formal rivals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): This is a president-elect who believes in keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. Whether it's mulling Hillary Clinton for secretary of state or making nice with John McCain in Chicago.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We're just going to have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country, and also to offer thanks to Senator McCain for the outstanding service he's already rendered.

HENRY: The two former rivals privately discussed some controversial issues they plan to work on together next year as they turn the page on a bitter campaign. A senior Obama transition official told CNN they talked about trying to revive the immigration reform plan that fell apart last year, and finding a way to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Those are hot button issues that will be hard to find common ground, especially since their body language suggested it's not easy to heal their divisions.

OBAMA: Hey, guys. What's up?

HENRY: This moment had awkward written all over it. So they did what guys do. Talk football.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I noticed that yesterday's football.

OBAMA: Oh, see there.

MCCAIN: Greeted with --

HENRY: They're trying to show they can bury the hatchet, but there are limits. People on each side insist McCain will not get a cabinet post.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I'm not going to speculate or address anything.

HENRY: Speculation is only intensifying, however, about a place in the cabinet for another former rival. Two Obama transition officials confirm they have started looking at former President Bill Clinton's finances and post-presidential dealings, including his charitable foundation and presidential library to identify potential roadblocks to his wife being nominated as secretary of state.

The president-elect has still has not made a formal job offer, but senior Democrats believe the vetting shows he's serious about considering.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Now, the Web site "Politico" is reporting that Team Obama is exasperated that the Clintons have not moved quicker to turn over some key records. But I can tell you, senior Obama aides are insisting to me that's not true. They say they're satisfied with the records they're getting. So far, though, they do acknowledge they want more information, John.

ROBERTS: You're hearing anything behind the scenes, Ed, about just how concerned they might be about President Clinton's dealing since leaving office?

HENRY: Obama aides acknowledge that this could be the biggest stumbling block. The problem for them right now, and as retaining all this though, is they don't know what is really out there. They're waiting for more disclosure so they can sort all that out, John.

ROBERTS: Ed Henry for us in Chicago this morning. Ed, thanks for that.

In just a few hours, Senate Democrats will take up Joe Lieberman's future and they are expected to show mercy despite early word that he would be punished for supporting John McCain during the presidential race. Sources tell CNN that Lieberman will be allowed to stay on as chairman of the powerful Homeland Security Committee. The independent, who still caucuses with Democrats, was expected to lose that post as payback. The party is now likely to take away his chairmanship of a less prominent environmental subcommittee.

Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy is back to work in Washington as he continues to fight brain cancer. Kennedy returned to the Capitol yesterday for the first time since July. He thanked everyone for their thoughts and prayers and said that he is eager to get back to business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I feel fine. Looking forward to the session and we got a lot of work to do and looking forward particularly to working with Barack Obama on health care. And we're looking forward to working with all the administration on our agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Democrats are excited to have Kennedy back. They point out that they need all the help they can get this week as Barack Obama has already resigned, and Joe Biden is not expected to cast any votes. And he made it back ahead of his promised schedule. He said he'd be back for January and here he is back in the middle of November.

CHETRY: He looks good.

ROBERTS: He does. He looks great.

CHETRY: He does.

Well, John McCain is also carving out a future in the Senate. Will he be a crucial ally for President-elect Barack Obama, or a thorn in the new president's side?

Also, gearing up for the holiday travel crunch in airports. Today, President Bush is preparing to make your flight to thanksgiving dinner a little smoother.

It's nine minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Ah, yes, the holiday season just about upon us. President Bush is hoping to save you a little bit of time and frustration as you jet off over the hill and through the woods to grandmother's house for thanksgiving dinner next week.

Later on today, he's expected to announce plans to open two lanes of military airspace to commercial planes this holiday season. The Air Traffic Controllers Union is not impressed by all of this. It says the White House did the same thing last year, and the move did little to ease congestion.

CHETRY: I can't believe we're playing these carols already. We have a long month to go. ROBERTS: That's not a carol. That's a Christmas song.

CHETRY: Well, it's OK.

ROBERTS: Silver Bells, Oh, Holy Night -- now, that's a carol.

CHETRY: Well, I'll tell you what. I'm going to be going to crazy by just (INAUDIBLE) if we continue to play these songs.

ROBERTS: Nobody is satisfied here. Air traffic controllers aren't satisfied. You don't like the music. Give us something else that we can dissatisfy by...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay home.

ROBERTS: ... like how the government is spending our money.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: How the government is spending. Listen, we're keeping a really does track on it.

They've got $700 billion of our money in that bailout and they have been doling it out. The Treasury Department announcing that it has bailed out another 33 billion to banks who had lined up to get some of this money. We want to show you how it's been spent. OK? So take a look.

There has been 350 billion still has to be proved to spend. Congress must approve 350 billion. But look it, it starts to go out the door. 40 billion to AIG, a 125 billion set aside for the big banks.

The big banks like Citigroup, which got $25 billion of this money and then laid off 50,000 people yesterday; 91 billion set aside for some other banks, those that are still available they're still private banks who can go for that. And then that 33 billion on the very top is what was announced yesterday. Twenty-one banks give out 33.

It's a busy little chart, and what it tells you is that a lot of your money is going out the door. This is yesterday's breakdown. U.S. Bancorp got 6 billion. SunTrust got 3 billion. Regions Bank got 33 1/2 billion. Capital One got 3.6 billion and Broadway Financial got the smallest amount, 9 million.

So the money is being spent, what about the oversight? Well, we're going to hear more about that today. Last week, Chris Dodd, Senator Chris Dodd on the Senate Banking Committee said, he doesn't like how this money is being spent. He doesn't think that the banks are doing what they're supposed to it, and that is ease the credit crisis.

Today, the House Financial Services Committee is going to take up the same issue and the treasury secretary will be there to answer questions from congressman who are angry about how the money is being spent and want federal oversight.

CHETRY: When you look at the pie chart, it's like why can't you chip off a little piece for the auto industry?

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: I mean, it's going to jump in, jump in with those fees.

ROMANS: When you see that $60 billion, there's $60 billion that can be spent. Right now, it's been approved already and there's $350 billion.

ROBERTS: Everybody is getting a reward for making a mistake so, you know --

CHETRY: I know.

ROBERTS: Why not throw them a thing or two.

ROMANS: When the numbers start flowing like that, I think that people get numb to -- but just think, we thought $700 billion. That's almost as much had been spent since September 11th in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, that's how much money we're talking. It's 10 years the Department of Education funding.

I mean, it starts (ph) -- it's real money.

CHETRY: It's mind boggling.

ROMANS: It's really money and it's big.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we're going to hold some feed to the fire today.

ROMANS: All right.

CHETRY: We're going to be speaking with the CEO of Ford and we're going to be talking to one GOP congressman who says no more especially not for the autos.

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

Well, the legacy of John McCain. What's next for the Arizona Senator? Will he reemerge as the leading reformer in the Senate, or continue along a partisan line?

Also, breaking news. The Saudi government speaking out about the latest pirate attack calling the hijacking of an oil supertanker "an outrageous act." A live report coming up.

Well, 15 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Senator McCain and President-elect Barack Obama met, got together, and had a nice visit. And Barack Obama thanked McCain for choosing that nutty Alaskan chick, and --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, John McCain and Barack Obama did agree to put the country first after meeting for the first time since the election. And while both sides find it unlikely that McCain will join an Obama cabinet, the question now is what role will McCain play when he returns to the Senate? CNN's Jason Carroll joins me now.

I was trying to read body language while I was watching the two of them sitting there next to each other. You know all the fighting is over and now it's time to get some things done.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: See if they can get together. You know, the public has seen many different sides of Senator McCain during the campaign, and over the years. As he returns to the Senate, he could be someone senators on both sides end up reaching out to.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Once opponents, now political analysts wonder if the president-elect's former rival could become his ally.

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: John McCain's days as a presidential candidate are over. His chance now to leave a lasting mark in public life going forward probably involves working with the man who beat him for the presidency, Barack Obama.

CARROLL: John McCain's campaign slogan "Country First," but here's the question, what's next? Does McCain return to the Senate, being the McCain who built a reputation criticizing Democrats and members of his own party, or, analysts ask, does he become the McCain of the campaign, but one whose partisan attack angered Democrats.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think he has the potential to be effective in the Senate again. It's not the same as running in the year 2008 for president on the Republican brand.

CARROLL: Like McCain, Republican Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter also has a reputation for being an independent spirit. Specter says McCain could play a key role on issues important to both parties.

SPECTER: Comprehensive immigration reform, campaign finance reform, global warming -- I think John McCain can pretty much write his own ticket.

CARROLL: For a hint at what he might do this time, analysts say look at what happened the last time McCain returned to the Senate after losing a presidential bid. In 2000, McCain reinvented himself as a maverick, using the issue of campaign finance reform to reach across the aisle. It worked before, and it could again.

PROF. MICHAEL MEZEY, DEPAUL UNIVERSITY: It's the independently spirited maverick McCain that will return, and I think he'll very quickly return to the sort of centrist positions on a number of issues, which he's always had. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Again, Senator McCain has two years left in the Senate. After that, some analysts say they would not be surprised if he ran for a fifth term representing Arizona, which would make him 74 years old.

CHETRY: All right. We'll see how it all happens, how it all ends up shaking down in the Senate. Thanks so much, Jason.

CARROLL: All right.

CHETRY: Good to see you this morning -- John.

ROBERTS: Pirates on the high seas. A super tanker captured. Find out how a ship bigger than an aircraft carrier was taken over.

It's 20 1/2 minutes now after the hour.

Basketball's bad boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The public humiliation. That's what's really going on here. It's not unlike, say, Martha Stewart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Alina Cho on how Maverick owner Mark Cuban ran afoul with the SEC.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Today executives from America's auto industry head to Capitol Hill to plead for emergency assistance, but will filing for bankruptcy actually be better for the automakers in the long-term or would it drag us all down?

Joining me now to talk about the options and the potential impact, Chrystia Freeland of the "Financial Times" and Lakshman Achuthan of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. Good morning to both of you.

LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN, MEMBER, NYC ECONOMIC ADVISORY PANEL: Good morning.

ROBERTS: Let's start with a quote from our valued friend, Jeff Sachs, who talks about this saying it's important to bail out the auto industry. He says, "The sudden closure of an automaker would be catastrophic possibly pushing our economy from recession to depression. The industrial Midwest would be devastated. The shockwaves would reverberate across the world." Agree?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, U.S. MANAGING EDITOR, FINANCIAL TIMES: No. I have great respect for Professor Sachs, but I think that that is a real nightmare scenario. And I think actually Chapter 11 has a lot to recommend it. The thing that I worry about with a direct bail out of the carmakers is they're caught in this web of structural relationship, which I think means they can never make money with the unions, but also with the dealerships. And the great thing about Chapter 11 is I think that it helps them to cut through that and means that in five years you could have a really vibrant car sector.

ROBERTS: So what about you? Do you think it would be the end of the world?

ACHUTHAN: No. Not an end of the world. There's no depression out there, even if we were to lose a couple of the carmakers. However, I do agree with the sentiment that the ground is really crumbling under our feet. We are in a severe recession, which is rapidly deteriorating. There's no upturn in sight. So in the middle of this moment right here, right now, to lose a big slug of jobs would be very, very painful for the economy. However, as we were just saying, you know, bankruptcy doesn't mean that you lose all your jobs.

So there may be a middle road here, and this whole idea of bailouts, right, which we got caught up in, the premise of the bailouts in the first place was that the credit system was freezing. We had a gun to our head. We had to do something. That was the original premise.

Now, we're talking about potentially businesses which may or may not be viable and have a good business plan, nor should they be bailed out.

ROBERTS: All right. So if Congress does go ahead with the bailout, there's competing plans out there. One is to take $25 billion out of the $700 billion bailout plan attached with a bunch of restrictions, no more golden parachutes and a more executive compensation, no more dividends. Is it better to do that or is it better to do what Republicans wanted to do which is retool the $25 billion already allocated for retooling this plants?

FREELAND: I think --

ROBERTS: Or neither?

FREELAND: Well, I would actually say neither. You know, and I think you might see some political consensus around what they're describing as a prepackaged bankruptcy where you would have the companies going to Chapter 11 with all of the power that gives the company versus its creditors. But at the same time you would have the government backstopping in some important ways. Maybe providing some warranty protection because one argument the companies are making is well, if we're going to bankruptcy no one will buy our cars because they'll be worried the warranties don't work and providing some backstopping on the (INAUDIBLE) in possession financing so that even in bankruptcy they can continue to operate as viable businesses.

ROBERTS: What do you think?

ACHUTHAN: Well, I think there's a lot of frustration reaching back to what's going with the $700 billion as well, right? Because we spent the hunk of this, and there's a hunk sitting there, and you know, maybe it should be used for something else. And they're going to have other industries and other businesses winding up now that we've opened up this ideological --

ROBERTS: Yes. Where do you stop?

ACHUTHAN: Where do you stop? And so there, I think from a macroeconomic business cycle point of view, the key thing is, can we -- what would it feel like to lose a slug of jobs. And so, if there is a package or some proposal or way to preserve or ameliorate job losses, at this moment right here, that's the key thing, and the real -- instead of being reactive all the time, bailouts are always reactive, let's get proactive and talk about how when we see a recovery, what are we going to do to make sure it sticks and creates jobs?

ROBERTS: You know, Republicans are saying, hey, this could be throwing good money after bad because this is an industry that just ignored people for so long, and kept on building cars that many people didn't want. But Jeff Sachs -- let me pull another quote from him says, "This is an opportunity to embark on a major industry restructuring to position the United States lead the world in producing cars that get 100 miles or more per gallon." Now certainly, they are going after some hybrid vehicles and things like that, but Ford is ramping up production on the F-150 pick-up again.

FREELAND: I don't actually think the problem with Detroit is that they produce bad cars and pick-up trucks. I think the problem is it's structurally as businesses they don't work. And we've seen that for 30 years. It's partly the union relationships, but it's also the dealerships, and these dealerships are protected by state law.

ROBERTS: Can you make this industry work?

ACHUTHAN: Well, you know, Professor Sachs is on to this. It's creative destruction. Look, when you go through a business cycle downturn, it is nasty. There's a lot of collateral damage, but it makes space for new businesses to be born. Perhaps greener cars, perhaps other cars that the world wants to buy that will take us, you know, years into the future, and that's the creative destruction aspect, which is painful, but ultimately profitable.

FREELAND: I also think, John, a point that you and Christine were making earlier is a really smart one, which is the $700 billion --

ROBERTS: Wow.

ACHUTHAN: No.

FREELAND: No, no. Like the $700 billion bailout for the banking sector you're describing it as mind-numbing, and it's true. But I think there's a danger there where you think, oh, well, we spent $700 billion on the banking sector, so what's another $50 billion for Detroit?

ROBERTS: Yes. It doesn't add up. FREELAND: I think, you know, Americans expect their government to be careful and thoughtful about how they spend their money.

ROBERTS: Yes. When you are in a trillion dollar deficit, $25 billion doesn't seem like that much, but it does all add up.

Chrystia Freeland, Lakshman Achuthan, good to see you this morning.

ACHUTHAN: Thank you.

ROBERTS: We'll put some of these questions to Alan Mulally from Ford coming in the next hour -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Thanks, John. We're just about 30 minutes after the hour. A check of the top stories right now.

One economic bright spot to tell you about as we've been talking about this automotive bailout continues to be gas prices. A gallon of regular now down again for a 62nd straight day, averaging $2.07 a gallon. According to AAA, Alaska is now the only state with gas prices averaging above $3.

In just a few hours, astronauts will take a walk amongst the stars during their first of four scheduled space walks. They'll be cleaning and loosening up a massive joint or a few of them that allow the International Space Station's solar panels to track the sun.

And right now in Southern California, the winds and temperatures are down. That's helping the more than 3,700 firefighters get a leg up on the flames. Since Thursday, the three wildfires have burned through 42,000 acres and nearly 1,000 homes. In Santa Barbara County, the so- called "Tea Fire" is about 95 percent contained at this point. Investigators have eliminated all accidental causes. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is now asking for federal help.

We have breaking news overseas. The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia calling the hijacking of a Saudi oil tanker by pirates a quote, "outrageous act." Right now, the tanker is on the move, and the military says it's not surprised that the pirates were able to capture such a massive vessel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: They're very good at what they could. They are -- They are highly -- you know, they're very well-armed. Tactically, they're very good. And so, once they get to a point where they can board, it becomes very difficult to get them off because clearly now they hold hostages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And right now, we're going to tap into the worldwide resources of CNN. We have David McKenzie live in Nairobi, Kenya. This super tanker is off the coast of Kenya right now.

What's the latest, David? DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest, Kiran, is that the U.S. Navy is telling CNN that the pirates are taking this super tanker, this massive vessel and they are spiriting it away towards the coast of Somalia. We suspect that they'll be taking it to Eyl, a port in Somalia which is really notorious as a pirate inn.

The U.S. leadership might feel that it's not surprising they took this on, but I'm certainly surprised. This is the equivalent of hijacking a building with a bicycle, Kiran. This is a massive ship, and it's really amazing that pirates were able to take it on.

CHETRY: And, you know, one of the things that we talk about when we talk about these hijackings, and this is a situation that we seeing get -- you know, happened repeatedly over the past several years and months. How could this end up hitting people in their own wallet?

MCKENZIE: It's a great question. I mean, how does this going to affect all of us around the world? And to be honest, it might end up affecting us quite badly. Already today, a Norwegian company told CNN that it's not even going to bother going through the gulf of Aden which connects the western to the eastern hemisphere. It's saying they're going all the way around the coast of Africa to take supplies and oil. That would mean a lot of extra time, a lot of extra money. And if the situation progresses that pirates continue to act like this, we might be seeing a lot of extra prices in the worldwide shipping industry.

Kiran?

CHETRY: David McKenzie for us in Nairobi this morning. Thank you so much.

And, you know, it's been a busy year actually for pirates. This hijacking the latest and by far the biggest, but here's more now in an "AM Extra".

The Sirius Star is three times the size of an aircraft carrier, as David was saying, carrying $100 million worth of oil. And as we said, it was captured off of the coast of East Africa, an area that makes up one-third of all piracy incidents, but far from the only hotspot. Here's a map of the International Chamber of Commerce pinpointing every documented pirate attack this year, including ones off of South America and Asia. Worldwide right now there are still 12 ships, as well as 250 crews held captive by pirates.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the election may be over, but the fundraising is far from it. We'll tell you why the President-elect is revving up the money machine yet again.

And the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks in serious trouble today. See what the basketball billionaire who was even once a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" has been charged with. It's 33-1/2 minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Mark Cuban owner of the Dallas Mavericks is facing federal charges to insider trading. This depiction makes November 2008 the worst month ever for mavericks, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Jay Leno last night. One of the bad boys in basketball is in trouble this morning for allegedly trying to get that extra edge. Our Alina Cho has been following the story. She joins us this morning.

Good morning to you.

ALINA CHO, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Good morning, everybody. You know, it's the results of a two- year investigation. The S.E.C. calls it insider trading. Now, many of you have heard of Mark Cuban. Of course, he's the brash billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He also owns HD Net.

So with all of that going for him, why on earth would he sell stock illegally just to save $750,000? He's been fined more than twice that for fighting with NBA refs. Well, the S.E.C. says that's exactly what he did. That he broke the law, and he denies it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness. Wrestle mania three has busted out.

CHO (voice-over): He is the bad boy of basketball, and a one-time star...

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHO: ...of "Dancing With the Stars." Mark Cuban, the 50-year-old billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks takes no prisoners.

MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Donald Trump, you are an idiot.

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR, FORTUNE: Mark Cuban is brash, outspoken, a loud mouth.

CHO: And now the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. An S.E.C. complaint filed Monday accuses Cuban of insider trading. The filing says Cuban in 2004 got some negative news about a company of which he was the largest shareholder, mamma.com.

Cuban then allegedly sold his entire stake in the company before the bad news became public. The sale of 600,000 shares, allegedly saved Cuban $750,000. Peanuts to a man worth $2.8 billion.

SERWER: The public humiliation, that's what's really going on here. It's not unlike, say, Martha Stewart, where you have a high profile person who makes a little tiny mistake in the name of greed, and that's what gets them.

CHO: Cuban made his money by selling broadcast.com at the height of the tech boom for $5 billion. He bought the Mavericks, founded HDNet, and is a majority partner of sharesleuth.com, a Web site that ironically exposes securities fraud.

On his own blog Cuban answered the charges saying, quote, "This matter has no merit and is a product of gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion."

Others say the S.E.C. probe into Cuban is a giant waste of time and money.

BARRY MINKOW, CO-FOUNDER/FRAUD DISCOVERY INSTITUTE: Even if the right $750,000 is not material, when compared to the multiple billions of alleged fraud that's taken place on Wall Street.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: And those who know him say that Cuban won't back down. Of course, he is no shrinking violet. He is potentially facing millions in penalties and what could be irreversible damage to his reputation.

Now Cuban says the S.E.C.'s process was result-oriented and facts be damned. He went on to say that the government's claims are false and they will be proven to be so. We should also mention, John, of course, he is an owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA team. And the NBA for now says it's not going to comment on the matter. They won't say whether it will launch its own investigation, but certainly something to watch.

ROBERTS: Yes. Obviously, he is innocent until proven guilty.

CHO: Yes, it is.

ROBERTS: But we have seen before that some people have, you know, risked a lot to save a very little amount of money.

CHO: Yes.

ROBERTS: Martha Stewart comes to mind.

CHO: We saw that with Martha Stewart, yes.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks so much for that.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: It's 40 minutes after the hour.

CHETRY: Picking up the tab.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really do hope Obama sticks by his principles and does not accept corporate money, does not accept money from lobbyists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Christine Romans looks at Barack Obama's next challenge -- raising millions to pay for his inauguration without hitting up big corporations. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Now, that's my favorite Christmas carol.

ROBERTS: Wasn't it from the show "I Love the 70s?"

CHETRY: That's right. I did.

Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." He was a money machine in the election as we all know. Barack Obama has one more fundraising challenge, though, to meet before he moves into the White House, and that's paying for his transition and a party that the whole world will, of course, be watching. Christine Romans joins us now with more on this.

Explain how this works and why, given the current financial situation and the economic outlook we're in right now. Maybe you don't want a huge party.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, they have a fine line to walk, and how are you going to pay for that party? The Obama transition team tells me we can expect an announcement on how they'll pay for the inauguration some time next week. And good government watchdogs are hoping the President-elect will ban corporate cash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): He raised a stunning amount of money for the general election -- more than $639 million in campaign contributions. Now, the President-elect's challenge is to raise more cash for his transition and inauguration.

CRAIG HOLMAN, PUBLIC CITIZEN: I really do hope Obama sticks by his principles and does not accept corporate money, does not accept money from lobbyists, and places a very, very low ceiling on the amount of money he'd accept from individuals to pay for his inauguration.

ROMANS: Public Citizen says companies spend that cash to buy influence. There is about $10 million of taxpayer funds to pay for the transition, but experts say that's not enough. Presidents tap private money and corporate cash to cover the difference.

President-elect Obama taking pains to keep lobbyists out of his transition and forego corporate cash, but he has not explicitly outlined his intentions for the inauguration.

George Bush raised a record $42.8 million, mostly from corporate donors, for his second inauguration. To address potential conflicts of interest, Bush limited corporate donations to a quarter million dollars each. Obama could decide to accept corporate donations for the inauguration, but impose tighter limits.

DAVID LEWIS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: I think past presidents have, you know, had to raise lots of private money to do these things. And I think he's actually got a good resource base of donors that are willing and probably will give money for both the transition effort, but also the inaugural campaign as well.

ROMANS: Make no mistake. Even without corporate cash, the Obama fundraising machine has been a force. After a record haul and a win on Election Day, team Obama was quickly soliciting more money. Here, raising money for the DNC.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Any money left over from the general election campaign funds can't be used for the transition, inauguration. But many say Obama's fundraising machine will have no trouble raising more money -- Kiran and John.

CHETRY: It's like they can do it by selling the tickets to the inauguration. Just kidding. No one can get their hands on right now.

ROMANS: Right.

ROBERTS: They certainly had no problems raising money so far.

ROMANS: They really haven't. And you know...

ROBERTS: They maybe in the very early going.

ROMANS: And George Bush, in his second inauguration, raised $42 million. It was a record. Almost 90 percent of it -- 90 percent plus was from corporate donations, but you won't probably see that from the Obama campaign.

ROBERTS: You're expecting four million people potentially on the mall for this thing?

ROMANS: Incredible.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable.

ROMANS: Incredible.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CHETRY: It's 46 minutes after the hour.

Presidential pictures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's Senator Feinstein, Senator Kennedy, Senator Harry Reid. And this is Senator Chuck Schumer, only it doesn't look like him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: A future presidential artifact and the man who's refusing to sell. Jeanne Moos gets an up-close look at Obama's doodle pad. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": True story now. People in the publishing industry are starting to speculate that President Bush is going to write a book after he leaves office. Yes. Yes. And by "write" they mean "draw." Look for that. It's going to be good. I look forward to that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: President-elect Barack Obama. He is an author, a former community organizer, but an artist? Now, one of his doodles could go for some major bucks. That is, if it was for sale. Our Jeanne Moos has got that story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS (voice-over): A lot of people can say --

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I got his autograph.

MOOS: But this guy can say, "I've got Obama's doodle." And he's not selling.

WAYNE BERZON, OWNER, OBAMA'S DOODLE: And they said what if we offer was six figures?

MOOS: Nope. Financial consultant Wayne Berzon is not selling the doodle he bought for about 2,000 bucks at a charity auction a year and a half ago.

(on camera): There's Senator Feinstein, Senator Kennedy, Senator Harry Reid. And this is Senator Chuck Schumer, only it doesn't look like him.

(voice-over): Compare this to another famous doodle that made the rounds recently.

(on camera): Here's Sarah Palin's. "The New Republic" uncovered it in a box of odds and ends, kept by the woman who ran Palin's campaign for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's fantasizing about her win -- it's me, check this box. MOOS (voice-over): Palin jotted down possible slogans like, "time for a change," telling citizens "you would be my boss."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks confused and talky.

MOOS (on camera): Talky? What's talky?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like she's talking too much.

MOOS: As for opinion on President-elect Obama's doodle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy is intelligent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This actually looks done well, except for the hair. I don't like the hair.

MOOS: What's wrong? Not yellow enough. We had graphologist Sheila Kurtz, put the two sets of doodles under her magnifying glass.

SHEILA KURTZ, GRAPHOLOGIST: He is economical and clear and to the point.

MOOS: Ronald Reagan used to like the doodle faces. The book "Presidential Doodles" features LBJ's devil cat, FDR's fish and JFK's sailboat. As for Sarah Palin's doodles from back before she was famous. Our graphologist notes the circle dot over the eye, the hook on the P, and the words scrolled over words.

KURTZ: She's smart, but she's very scattered and all over the place. And wants everyone to recognize her and to know who she is. It's almost like a teenager's writing.

MOOS: Yes. Well, tell that to the guy who wanted his cell phone signed. The collector who bought the Obama doodle is putting it in a safe-deposit box for now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of a neat idea that they have to own something that could end up in a presidential museum.

MOOS: In a museum or on some blog? Makes you want to hide your doodles unless they be criticized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? It's like somebody who was in prison, who would write on, like, their wall.

MOOS: Or someone posted after eyeing Sarah Palin's doodles. I think the O in mayor just winked at me. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: His sexperiment started on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sex comes from God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Thou shalt have sex? Seven days straight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got our journal, and we're just going to do it on a different seven days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The reverend preaching sex out of bed and on AMERICAN MORNING, live.

Plus, don't ask, don't tell. No more? You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Top videos right now on cnn.com -- most popular. A priest in Greenville, South Carolina asking his parishioners to repent for voting for Barack Obama, because he is not pro-life. Protestors outside were divided. Some holding signs saying that the father was right. Others saying that the church is un-American.

Also, Somali pirates seized a Saudi oil tank in the size of an aircraft carrier. The pirates' biggest hold today. Estimates are that the oil inside is worth $100 million.

And that pregnant man who is not really medically a man, but lives as one -- yes, well, he's pregnant again. The 15 minutes and nine months of fame continued on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night.

CHETRY: Well, thou shalt have sex, everyday for the next seven days. It's a challenge issued by Grapevine, Texas, Pastor Ed Young to married members of his church. So what's the purpose behind it, and what have his congregants learn from this? Pastor Ed Young joins me now from Dallas.

Good morning, it's great to see you. Thanks for being with us this morning.

PASTOR ED YOUNG, FOUNDER, FELLOWSHIP CHURCH: Good morning. How are you?

CHETRY: Great. So, you issued this challenge. You basically say that we have sort of taken the sex out of marriage and sex and promiscuity unfortunately are a part of our society that have been taken out of context. Explain that.

YOUNG: Exactly. Well, God is pro-sex. He is the one that invented it. He thought it up. For far too long, the church has been very silent over a topic that he was not silent about. And we've allowed the world to hijack sex. And basically, our culture saying, hey, do it with whomever, whenever, however. But I believe the church, we're the sexperts. We're the ones, obviously, who can talk about God's view of sex. And we want to do it in a very creative and open and loving way.

So what I did was I just basically challenged all of the married couples at fellowship church to make love for seven straight days. Because I think believers can truly make love because, after all, God invented it. He made it so we can make it. So that's kind of where the sexual challenge begins.

CHETRY: All right. So tell us a little bit about what the reaction has been like. We're in day three, right, for people in your congregation?

YOUNG: You know, it's been overwhelmingly positive. You know, whenever you connect God with sex and sex with God, people kind of do the pushback and they kind of go, wow, really? But it's been great. It's already transformed a numerous marriages. We've gotten so many e-mails and texts and different letters and comments about people.

Not only husbands, but also the wives. Because when we schedule sex, when we know we're going to do it, I think it causes us to bring our best game into the marriage situation, and it's not just the sex. It's the things that surround the sex that really, really take the marriage to a whole another level. So, what I'm doing is I'm challenging people to write down what they're going through, and then I'm in the process of actually writing a book about this. So, I am -- I am really, really thrilled about what's happening.

CHETRY: Let's listen to what one couple from your church said about the sexperiment.

YOUNG: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIN JOHNSON, CHURCH MEMBERS: In fact, 12:01 we already started practicing.

JAY JOHNSON, CHURCH MEMBERS: Because the bible said so. OK?

L. JOHNSON: That's right.

KIM BROWN, CHURCH MEMBERS: I think it's a great idea, and I think that he has touched on this before. Not at this depth, but he has touched on this before and thinks that this is very, very important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You know, it's very interesting. People look happy about it. It's interesting, though, people would say it's so ironic. You spend, you know, a large part of your life being told not to have sex until you're married. Then you do get married, and most people say we don't have sex anymore. Why is it so important to bring that back into marriage and why do you call it super glue in a marriage?

YOUNG: Well, it is the super glue because you show me your sex life in marriage, and I'll show you what kind of relationship you are having. Because sex is a soulish thing. You can't park your brain or your soul or your emotions outside of the bedroom door. So when people have sex, it's mysterious. It's a beautiful thing. There's a connection on a level that we can't really explain, and marriage is the only relationship that's analogous to God's relationship with its people.

So, that's why in sex, there's a oneness that takes place, and it's something that I believe transcends every aspect of the marriage, the family, our careers, and, you know, it's good for our bodies. It gives us energy. I think it helps depression, especially during the weird economic times. We can change some of our whining into whoopee, you know, because we're regularly having sex.

CHETRY: You're right. And it doesn't cost as much as going in the movies, I guess.

YOUNG: Yes, that's right.

CHETRY: Reverend Young, founder of the Fellowship Church. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

YOUNG: Thank you very much.

ROBERTS: You got to be married, though, right?

CHETRY: That's right.

ROBERTS: All right. 59 minutes after the hour, and here are this morning's top stories.

Ford Motors looking for some cash is selling 20 percent of its stake in Japanese automakers Mazda. Mazda's chairman says the sale will not result in any change of Mazda's strategic direction.

Jerry Yang, the cofounder and CEO of Internet portal Yahoo! is stepping down from his post. Yahoo! has long struggled against online juggernaut Google, and Yang was criticized for not reaching an agreement with Microsoft to sell the company. Yang will stay on the board of directors and then slide back into his old position which the company calls chief Yahoo!

I'm not sure how you describe Chief Yahoo!, but that's what he's going to do.

And a lame duck Congress kicking off its special session with a contentious debate over a bailout of America's big three automakers. Senate Democrats want to vote on the issue tomorrow, but they may come up short on support. Later on today, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke will testify before the House Financial Services Committee.

Our Brianna Keilar is live on Capitol Hill this morning with the very latest. So, how does this look like it's going to go, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, the chances at this point looking slim, John. And all of this happening as we're expecting the heads of the top three automakers, as well as the president of the United Auto Workers here before Congress today pleading their case for a bailout.