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CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL
Detroit's Lifeline; Chicago Workers Protest
Aired December 8, 2008 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, everybody.
This could be the week Detroit gets a lifeline, but at a price.
Bullet point number one tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says a $15 billion bailout could come to a vote this week. That is a lot less, though, than the $34 billion that the Big Three automakers wanted. And Pelosi is calling it a barbershop loan, meaning that everybody is going to have to take a cut, from the executive suite to the assembly line.
If that happens, one of those bosses better get ready for an overhaul of his own.
Bullet point number two, imagine how much you would earn if you were in charge of a company that lost $40 billion -- that's right -- $40 billion. You are going to need to sit down when Randi Kaye shows us what one CEO's perks added up to even as his car company was speeding into a financial brick wall.
Bullet point number three, a member of our rogues gallery had a pretty tough weekend. And that is not even counting the corruption charges he faces. Find out how William Jefferson became part of political history by losing.
And bullet point number four tonight, working for respect at a shut-down Chicago window factory. It's a protest even president-elect Barack Obama is watching closely. We are going to meet some of the laid-off workers who aren't going away, even if their jobs are.
First, though, as always tonight, we're "Cutting Through the Bull."
You know, it may be that we have been looking at the economic picture all wrong. The notion that perhaps things really aren't so awful as all that popped into our heads today when we heard that the CEO of Merrill Lynch was putting in for a $10 million bonus for 2008, mostly because, in 2008, he adeptly held Merrill Lynch down to a loss of only $11.67 billion.
Now put it in context. This was at a time when some of his company's Wall Street rivals, like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, collapsed entirely. John Thain is the CEO we are talking about. He also argued he was able to arrange the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America during these troubled times and that orchestrating the sale of an outfit that has lost more than $11 billion surely ought to be worth some big bonus cash. You know, one of my neighbors worked for Merrill Lynch. She recently got laid off. Literally thousands of Merrill Lynch employees are likely to be let go because of the sale to Bank of America. And the CEO wants a $10 million bonus.
Is it me, or is this guy nuts? This was all front-page news in "The Wall Street Journal" today. And because of that, I'm guessing, by late this afternoon, Mr. Thain came to his senses and withdrew his bonus request. Being publicly hung out to dry can be quite the motivator.
Look, Mr. Thain may well have inherited a mess of a company. He may have done an admirable job of limiting the losses. And he may be paying for the mistakes of his predecessors. But that's life. And that is the world that we all now live in.
And, news flash, Mr. Thain. We are all now paying for the mistakes of Wall Street big shots, like your predecessors, every single taxpaying American. We are glad you came to your senses, because, in this current environment, there is no possible way to justify a request like this.
If you are as outraged as I am about CEO bonuses, know this. We are not alone. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been on the war path about this. Also, he has been very aggressive about calling out Wall Street movers and shakers for their excesses.
Today, he put out a statement saying -- quote -- "American taxpayers have seen their investments crater, while simultaneously having to fund the Wall Street bailout with billions of their tax dollars." And he denounced John Thain's bonus request. We talked to him just a little while ago.
ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: These exorbitant bonuses, these exorbitant compensation schemes are not going to be paid by the taxpayer, Campbell, and they shouldn't be.
First of all, the concept of a performance bonus in this context is oxymoronic, in my opinion.
BROWN: The big picture, trillions of dollars, as you said, lost in the market over the last six months, people obviously wanting accountability. Are you looking at other companies? Does your office plan on launching any additional investigations?
We have been looking at this for months, and we're going to continue. Basically, we represent the taxpayers. I also believe the advice we're giving the companies is good advice. You can't be in a position where you say to the American people now, I know you lost your savings. I know you're afraid of a layoff. I know you have billed out the company to the tune of billions of dollars, and now we're going to turn around and have these exorbitant senior executive packages. It won't sell. It shouldn't sell. It's wrong. It's immoral. It violates the contract with the taxpayer. And I think the companies get it. And the positive news here today is, the company did get it. And they reversed themselves before they made what I believe would have been a very big mistake.
BROWN: And now let's turn to breaking bailout news, negotiators working into the night trying to dot the I's, cross the T's on a proposed $15 billion bailout loan for Detroit.
Congressional Democrats sent their plan to the White House today, but there are differences yet to be resolved.
Dana Bash up on Capitol Hill for us.
And, Dana, it looked some progress today, still some roadblocks, though. How close are they to making a deal?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're getting there, Campbell.
You know, you have covered negotiations like this before. It is very unclear to watch as the sausage is being made to figure out when actually it will be done. But, as you said, they do have broad agreement on the idea that they are just going to give these auto companies $15 billion, a short-term loan.
And, in fact, the proposal on the table is to do it really fast, to give it to them by next Monday. And this would, along with it, have strings attached, big-time strings attached, in terms of making them restructure and promise that they can prove that they can be profitable and competitive.
But, you know, as you said, they are still working on this, as we speak, behind the scenes, because there are some differences over just how to do that, Campbell.
BROWN: And that number, $15 billion, how did they arrive at that number?
BASH: It is far short of what the auto companies came to Capitol Hill and asked for, which the last time they came was $34 billion.
They arrived at that number basically because there was no way that lawmakers were going to give these auto executives what they asked for, but they wanted to give them at least what they need, at least what lawmakers think they need, to stay afloat in order for the economy not to be very hurt if these companies in Detroit collapse.
So, that's how they came up with that. But, again, it's going to be interesting to see, because the government according to at least this draft legislation will have a big, big role in making sure that these companies are restructured. And, again, that is part of the hang-up here, because there is so much bailout fatigue here because of what happened with the bailout for Wall Street...
BASH: ... and because they're worried about the fact that they don't really trust Detroit.
BROWN: Yes. All right, Dana Bash for us with the very latest details from Capitol Hill.
Dana, thanks very much.
And even if those late-night negotiations produce a deal, will it really be enough to save Detroit, or, is it, as some have suggested, just spending more good money after bad? We are going to talk to Ali Velshi and get a reality check on all this when we come back.
And, in Chicago, laid-off workers refused to leave the factory where they used to work. At the heart of their outrage? Bank of America.
And why is this man dancing? How President Bush spent one of his last weekends at the White House.
BROWN: You may have noticed that our usual CNN red logo in the corner of your TV set is now not in the corner of your TV set. But, if it were there, it would be green. Wait. There it is. It's coming. It's coming. It's there? OK, it's there. It's green.
BROWN: Anyway, to this point -- or, at this point, it's about the debut of this year's "Planet in Peril" special with Anderson Cooper and it's going to be running on Thursday night. And that is why the logo that you can see, but I can't, is green. So, we will have more on "Planet in Peril" coming up later in the show.
And, speaking of green, how about 15 billion greenbacks? That is the price tag on that proposed bailout plan for the Big Three automakers. But will everybody buy it? And could it actually save the American auto industry? Is it enough money?
We are going to get a reality check from Ali Velshi, who is with us. Also, Jessica Yellin is covering the Obama transition in Chicago for reaction from them as well.
We will go to Jessica in a second.
But, first, Ali, based on what we know at least so far, it does seem like there are going to be some checks and balances this time around, huh?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, in fact, quite a few checks and balances.
What we have learned from the $700 billion bailout is that things were changed and Congress didn't feel like it had the right to sort of say things at the same time. So, $335 billion of that is already spent. This $25 billion or in this case $15 billion is going to be scrutinized very heavily. There will be checks and balances and there will be conditions.
Now, part of the checks and balances will be a czar, you know, somebody...
BROWN: A car czar.
VELSHI: A car czar...
VELSHI: ... who will be overseeing it. But there are conditions to this money and it will be that there will not be bonuses paid to the 25 most highly paid -- this is according to what Congress would like. We don't have a settled deal. Jessica will tell you more about that.
But there will be strings attached to how much they're paid, no golden parachutes, no private planes leased or borrowed, and no dividends to be paid to shareholders. So, this money has got to be used to try and retool the auto industry.
BROWN: OK. But it's half -- it's I think less than -- yes, half of what they had asked for, less than half.
VELSHI: At the hearings, an economist was there who said really $15 billion to $17 billion is what General Motors and Chrysler need to get through to about March.
Ford says it doesn't really need any money right now. It might if things get worse, but it doesn't right now. So, the idea is give the minimum amount of money that is necessary to get them through to March and then reevaluate this.
BROWN: All right, Jessica, let me go to you.
I know you have been working your sources on Capitol Hill and in the transition team about this. What's their reaction been generally to what we're hearing so far?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Campbell, Barack Obama is not publicly commenting on this yet, as it's still in the stage of being worked through. So they aren't taking a public position. But I can tell you that his staff has been apprised blow by blow throughout this weekend and all day today. Every change that's made, congressional staff reaches out and calls the Obama team.
There is nothing that is going on, Capitol Hill right now of this magnitude that is done without the sign-on of the Barack Obama transition team, because he is going to be their leader. This is going to be his to carry forward. And so you can assume that whatever they sign onto is what Barack Obama approves of.
And their understanding is so far he's OK with what they have, but we aren't going to get any kind of public comment until this is more of a complete package -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right.
Ali, one thing, though, that I think has been bothering a lot of people in seeing the extent to which they have focused on oversight with regard to the automakers is, why didn't they do this with the banks?
Well, you can look at it that way or you can say they learned the lesson from what happened with the banks. Remember, that first bailout, the $700 billion, wasn't for the banks in the first place. It was to buy bad loans. Then it switched to the banks.
And the legislation hadn't been written in a way where the congressmen had thought, well how are we going to be sure they do the right thing? There were a few checks and balances. The Senate has just appointed somebody who is going to oversee the remaining $15 billion of the $350 billion.
So everybody is learning a little late that put out what you want. Put the stipulations out now because you expect the right thing to be done and in some cases with the banks the right thing wasn't done. So, at this point, these poor automakers, in some cases, you feel sorry for them, because they're getting more rules than they ever thought they would get.
But they have to do things now that will somehow shift the auto industry over to something that is more viable. And if they don't, if they come back in March and nothing is changed, there is a good chance they won't get any more money.
BROWN: All right. It will be interesting, though, to see if like the managers over at Citigroup get dragged up to Capitol Hill and put through the wringer before a hearing.
VELSHI: We will be watching if that happens.
BROWN: Yes, we will see if it happens.
All right, Ali Velshi, many thanks for the reality check.
And Jessica Yellin for us from Chicago tonight as well -- Jessica, thanks.
This is going to come as quite a shock. The CEO of GM is in trouble. Yes, of course it's a shock. His company has lost tens of billions of dollars and now asking the government for billions more, as Ali just stated. So, we started wondering, what does he make and why are powerful senators saying now that he has got to go? We will tell you about that.
And then later, workers in Chicago taking matters, including their shut-down factory into their own hands. Is this a sign of things to come?
Plus, a NO BIAS, NO BULL rogue's gallery update. It seemed he was untouchable. The latest on this Louisiana politician with the FBI cash hidden in his freezer.
BROWN: Even president-elect Obama has been watching what happens at a shut-down window factory in his hometown. And it may have less to do with actual pink slips than how workers are being treated on the way out the door.
For the last few days, workers have been staging a sit-in. And their protest has opened a window onto this recession in America.
And our Gary Tuchman is in Chicago with more on all of this tonight.
And, Gary, you have been talking to a lot of these workers, I know. They have been telling you their stories. What are you hearing from them?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, this is the Republic Windows and Doors factory. It's now been shut down. And you're about to see something that is very unusual in the labor movement. It hasn't happened in decades. It's a sit-in. The workers have actually taken over the factory.
And, right now, I'm going to give you a look. We're not allowed to walk in the factory. We can walk up to this vantage point. And right now it's empty here, but this is where people have been sitting. The reason they're not here right now -- and here are some workers who are coming in right now -- and this explains my story -- the reason it's empty now is these workers are all coming in.
There's 280 union workers who did work here and they're coming in for a meeting right now, because as we speak people who own this factory, the Bank of America, which gave credit for this factory, and union officials are having a meeting and they're going to be briefed about what's happening at this meeting.
But at this point, these workers are not working anymore. Under federal law, if there are massive layoffs or if a factory shuts down, you have to give workers 60 days' warning. Well, these workers got three days' warning. So, they're not getting any salary. They no longer have insurance. They don't their vacation pay. And they're very angry and they say they're not going to leave this factory until they get the money that is due to them.
Now, we talked to a gentleman who works here a short time ago. He is expecting a baby on Christmas Eve, his third child. He no longer has medical insurance, doesn't have enough money to pay the mortgage, and this is what he had to tell me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Are you afraid that you could go to jail by being here?
APOLINAR CABRERA, UNION WORKER: I'm going to be here as long as it's going to take to stay here and fight for my rights. So, if the police come here, if they want to arrest me, no problem. I'm going to be to the jail. But I'm going to stay here strong with these people, with the media, if they're going to stay over there, with the congressmen (INAUDIBLE)
TUCHMAN: But what if you go to jail? You're about to have a baby.
CABRERA: I need to do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Campbell, the family business here has not talked to reporters. They did tell the workers they were forced to shut down because they weren't getting the credit from the Bank of America.
The Bank of America says it's not their fault; it's the family business's fault for not running the business properly.
But these workers have gotten a lot of sympathizers. They have come here. They have signed posters, for example, here. It says, "Welcome to the workers occupation of Republic Windows, day four."
This is a battle. Some look at it as a battle of the proletariat vs. the bourgeois. You heard about that in college. That's what happening here. People are walking in now, Campbell, other union workers here. The 284, as I said, they have been staying here 24 hours in shifts, 30 or 40 at a time.
But now all -- you guys can come in. No, we don't mean to block you or stop commerce here. These are the workers who are coming in. This gives you an idea of what is going on. And it's happening as we speak. And there may be a settlement. We don't know. But that's what's going on right now, this big meeting -- Campbell.
BROWN: I was going to ask you, because it seems like from what you're telling us, the law is on their side, the side of the workers. So, I mean, they should be feeling fairly optimistic, right? Someone has got to concede here.
TUCHMAN: Here's what's fascinating about this, Campbell.
Nobody is saying these workers are wrong. The company publicly hasn't said the workers are wrong. Bank of America is sympathetic to the workers. The governor of the state and the two U.S. senators, including a guy by the name of Barack Obama, who is about to be president of the United States, they have come. They have supported the workers.
So, they feel like they're on a good track here, these union workers and the union leaders. They feel that good things will come of this sit-in. But the fact is at any time if the people who own this factory wanted to, they could tell the police to come in. This is their property, and these workers are on private property right now. And they could be taken to jail, but there is a feeling here that they're on to some level of success.
BROWN: Well, I was going to say, when you have that kind of support.
Gary, hang on a second, because we want to bring in -- we want to bring back Ali Velshi, who is here with me now, but also CNN political analyst and radio talk show host Roland Martin, who is in Chicago tonight, to talk about this a little more broadly.
And, Ali, let me ask you first, have you seen anything like this? Are we seeing the beginning of a trend that people are going to be occupying?
VELSHI: As that gentleman was talking, Gary was saying, they just feel powerless. And that's the problem, that this empowers people.
With these layoffs -- and we have seen almost 1.9 million of them in 2007 -- many of them come in the form of mass layoffs. You didn't have any notice that that was coming. That's a problem.
Now, there are companies that legitimately for financing reasons or otherwise have to lay people off. But the best thing to do would be to know the law and give them what notice you can. This is very tough on people. If they have nothing else that they can hang on to, then they're going to hang on to what they can.
BROWN: And, Roland, just to speak in more general terms, we mentioned that president-elect Obama is supporting the workers, spoke out yesterday in support of many of them. And let's play for a moment a bit of what he said yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think that these workers, if they have earned these benefits and their pay, then these companies need to follow through on those commitments. And, number two, I think it's important for us to make sure that, moving forward, any economic plan that we put in place helps businesses to meet payroll, so that we're not seeing these kinds of circumstances again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And, Roland, look more big-picture here, beyond this particular incident. The expectations on Obama right now are huge, to sort of intervene everywhere, fix everything.
How does he possibly deliver on that?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, he cannot deliver on all of that. He is not the savior. He can't fix every single problem that exists.
And I think by him supporting what these workers are doing, this frankly goes in line with his whole mantra of the campaign, yes, we can, calling on people and individuals to say, you know what, you also have a stake in this.
And, Campbell, look, I love the idea of workers saying, we're going to do what is right for us.
And, look, we don't know the circumstances with this whole notion of a line of credit. Well, let me tell you something. There are a lot of business owners, and I have talked to them, who have told me, Roland, we are going to go out of business if we don't get these lines of credit.
And so I'm hoping that the American worker rises up and says, you know what? We're not going to sit here and just take it from the CEOs. We're going to do our part and also to challenge people.
And I hope companies also, Campbell, are more forthcoming with workers and say, look, we're having problems here, so people aren't caught by surprise, like these workers were.
BROWN: And, Gary, you said before that they have had a parade of politicians come through and visit them, express their support for them. Clearly, as we mentioned, the law on their side here. There is no sense at all that they are going to back down or stop the sit-in any time soon, is there?
TUCHMAN: No. They're not stopping this sit-in. They have vowed to stick it out.
Right now, they're coming out with bushels of food, bags of food. There have been donations from all across the country. And a short time ago, there was a donation of toys that came in for these employees' children for Christmas. It took like a half-an-hour to bring all the toys in, in an assembly line fashion into the factory.
And we have talked to a lot of people here. They literally tell us they do not -- they don't save very much money. The average employee here makes less than $400 a week. And a lot of people say they have absolutely no savings whatsoever.
And when that automatic payment for their mortgage is deducted at the end of this month, the beginning of next month, they don't think they will be able to pay it. So, they're very worried. But they're not planning on leaving. This is a symbol of what's going on nationally.
They look at it this way. It didn't happen routinely. It happened -- union workers and union officials got together, made a decision that, hey, we're not going to let this go on without some kind of opposition. We are going to make this a symbol and that's why they're here and they're very proud at this point of what they're doing.
MARTIN: Hey, Campbell, I also...
MARTIN: I wouldn't be surprised also if you see unions saying, hey, here is a clear example as to why we are here. Those people who are not in unions, they don't have these same requirements in terms of notification of losing jobs.
And so don't be surprised if you see this whole notion of this is why we exist and why we need to see an expansion of union members because we have seen their members -- the numbers decline in the last 15 years. They can use frankly, this to their advantage as well.
BROWN: Roland makes a good point.
BROWN: Is this a union resurgence?
VELSHI: Right. Except that even by doing the right thing, all that these workers are going to end up with is what they should have ended up with by law. So where does that get you? They could do the same thing by not having a sit-in and going to court.
BROWN: Guys, interesting conversation. Shocking that we're having it, frankly, that the economy has reached this point where this kind of thing is happening.
But, to Roland, to Gary, and to Ali, many thanks, everybody. Appreciate it.
BROWN: None of the Big Three carmakers came off looking all that good in front of Congress last week, but wait until you hear how much one of these executives raked in as his company was sliding over the edge.
And then a little bit later, our "PDB," the "Political Daily Briefing" -- the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election. Now it decides whether to get involved in another presidential race. We will have the details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOELY RICE, CINCINNATUS, NEW YORK: Dear President Obama, you make me think I can do anything in the world. May I have one question? When do you think you can start giving teachers a raise? Because my teachers are hard workers, and they rock.
Thank you, President Obama.
And visit my school any time you like. Bring your wife and kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: OK. That's a first for us, a "Dear Mr. President" letter read on roller skates, no less, quite a little performer there, Joely Rice. She's from Cincinnatus Central School in New York State.
All over the country, of course, kids have been writing letters to president-elect Obama. And we love it when you share them with us. To send us your letter to the next president with or without roller skates, look for the I-Report link on our Web site, CNN.com/Campbell.
Time once again for our Washington man about town and collector of rare and valuable political tidbits, Dana Milbank with our "PDB," the "Political Daily Briefing."
Dana, good to see you.
Topping tonight's "PDB": The U.S. Supreme Court decides not to hear that bizarre case we have been talking about, about Barack Obama's nationality.
DANA MILBANK, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Campbell, so much for all that we have heard about this conservative court. A unanimous Supreme Court this morning said it did not want to hear the case of one Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, New Jersey.
He was claiming that Obama could not be sworn in as president because his father from Kenya, was therefore a British subject.
Now, for all those conspiracy theorists out there, do not lose hope. They're plenty more cases in the pipeline. My favorite says that Obama himself was actually born in Kenya, adopted in Indonesia, and has a forged birth certificate. Now, the independent group factcheck.org, suggested if you're going to pursue these theories, you might want to do so wearing a tin foil hat.
BROWN: Yes. Might help.
Dana, let's talk about President Bush, because he is a changed man. He's letting loose these days as he gets ready to leave office. Just in the past few days, he's been making jokes, having fun at a football game, even dancing with children, I saw.
MILBANK: True enough. There's only 43 days left in his presidency. I'm beginning to wonder if the guy's going to make it. Over the weekend, he was in Philly for the official portrait unveiling and he was speaking openly of his imminent demise. Just listen to the very first thing out of his mouth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome to my hanging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MILBANK: The very same day, Campbell, he was at the Army-Navy game. He attempted an impromptu field goal. The thing only went about 13 yards. Given his field position, I think he probably should have punted but he's also found time to give Santa a fist bump in recent days and today he even tried a little bit of dancing.
Well, at least I think that's dancing.
BROWN: Yes, I know, if you can call it that. All right.
Moving on now. A lot of buzz about the possibility of Caroline Kennedy replacing Hillary Clinton in the Senate. But today there's word, I understand, she could have some new competition.
MILBANK: Yes. I mean, Kennedy is being coy about exactly what she wants. Not so Fran Drescher, the pride of queens. She has thrown her hat in the ring. The obvious risk here is that she might become something of a caretaker senator given her role in the 1990s sitcom "The Nanny." But on the positive side if she does get the seat...
BROWN: Got it.
MILBANK: ... we can hope for her sequel, perhaps, to her popular book "Cancer Schmancer." I think this one would be called "Senate Schmenate."
BROWN: All right. Sorry, there's a little -- there's a little flow on that earlier joke there, Dana.
Finally, you know, a report that former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson might be trying to cash in on Obama's inauguration?
MILBANK: Yes. I mean, there was a time not so long ago when it was plausible that Fred Thompson would be in the inaugural parade. Now he doesn't even want to watch the thing.
"The New York Post" says that for a mere $30,000 you can actually rent out his luxury condo, one bedroom there in Washington with a view of the parade route. The good part, I suppose, is that Thompson, himself, does not convey. He has gone office. We've discussed earlier. He prefers the safer confines of Hollywood and more acting. BROWN: Yes. Steep price, great spot though, I will say. I think I was down on the street right near that building last time around.
Anyway, Dana Milbank -- as always, Dana, thank you.
MILBANK: Thanks, Campbell.
BROWN: Still ahead, we're going to open up our "Rogues Gallery." And we promise you will love the excuse that a New York congressman tried at his DUI hearing. On a scale of one to 10 we are giving it a 12.
And find out how two fuzzy little saviors kept a little boy from freezing in the woods. You're not going to believe this. It will warm your heart. Wait until we come back.
BROWN: Coming up, he's been indicted for bribery. Well, now a charter member of our "Rogues Gallery" is also looking for a new line of work. First, though, Randi Kaye with me for "The Briefing" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Campbell. Late word tonight from San Diego. Three people are now confirmed dead after a military fighter plane went down in a residential neighborhood. The F-18 jet crashed two miles short of the Miramar Marine Corps air station. The pilot bailed out. He is in the hospital tonight.
Five former security guards in Iraq have been released for now after being charged with manslaughter. The former Blackwater employees are accused of using machine guns and grenade launchers to kill 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
The prime minister of Greece held an emergency cabinet meeting after a third day of rioting. It is the worst violence there in decades. Teenage mobs smashing windows and torching businesses across the country after police shot and killed a 15-year-old Athens boy.
And a wonderful survival story, thanks to man's best friend or I guess in this case toddler's best friend. A pair of puppies protected 3-year-old Jalen Thorpe (ph) during a freezing night in the woods of southern Virginia after he got separated from his baby-sitter. The pups refused to leave his side, even after Jalen was rescued 21 hours later.
BROWN: I can't -- I read about this. They slept with him and it was the warmth of the puppies.
KAYE: They cuddled right up to him.
BROWN: Oh, it's unbelievable.
KAYE: And then won't even leave his side after that.
BROWN: I know. OK. It makes me cry.
KAYE: Sure does.
BROWN: Randi for us. I know Randi is not leaving. We're going to hear more from you in a minute on another story.
Whether you're for or against the auto bailout, you're going to be stunned by how much one of the big three execs made after his company lost tens of billions of dollars. Randi has the numbers in a "NO BIAS, NO BULL" look, coming up in a moment.
And then later, an astonishing kiss and tell. The Republican president face to face with a classic Hollywood liberal. That moment of truth in the "Bulls-Eye" tonight.
BROWN: If you look at General Motors' balance sheet, the sales figures all in the red. I mean, really deep red. But the compensation side of the ledger is a very healthy black, particularly for those at the very top. In other words, while GM has been losing billions, its CEO has been making a fortune.
Randi Kaye is back with a "NO BIAS, NO BULL" look at the company's big losses and the boss's big gain.
KAYE: Campbell, GM's vice chairman, Robert Lutz, says calls for company CEO Rick Wagoner to be ousted are like blaming the mayor of a city that's been hit by an earthquake, but not everyone sees it that way. Wagoner is the company's youngest CEO in more than half a century, and his critics say not only is he overpaid, but he's overstayed his welcome.
KAYE (voice-over): Last year, General Motors posted a $39 billion net loss, yet the company's CEO, Rick Wagoner, got a raise. Wagoner's compensation package totaled a whopping $15.7 million. That's up 64 percent from the year before.
PETER MORICI, EXPERT, INTL. ECONOMIC POLICY: The losses keep mounting and Rick Wagoner keeps getting raises. It's just an absurd situation.
KAYE: Absurd, and some say greedy. Wagoner has agreed to a salary of just $1 next year, but, still, critics are calling for him to resign. On CBS, Democratic Senator Chris Dodd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CBS' "FACE THE NATION")
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think it's clear GM is in the worst shape. I think he has to move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: Dodd, who heads the Senate Banking Committee, says automakers should restructure if they want Congress to save them. Wagoner was named CEO eight years ago.
MORICI: Rick Wagoner needs to go because he's simply failed to make General Motors competitive.
KAYE: Peter Morici, an expert on international economic policy, says Wagoner kept GM focused on trucks and SUVs, which brought higher profits. Under Wagoner, the company spent more than $6 million lobbying Congress early in 2007 to fight tougher fuel economy standards. Last week on CNN, Wagoner defended his salary and his record, admitting he's made mistakes.
RICK WAGONER, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: Given the low energy prices we had in the U.S., we've really been built up a strong position in trucks and because of the lack of profitability in cars in retrospect, we didn't put enough effort into that side of the business.
MORICI: He failed to see the importance of the hybrid coming, simply because they didn't see gasoline ever becoming expensive enough.
KAYE: Wagoner has no plans to resign and the company says he is the best leader for GM.
(on camera): Looking at it "NO BIAS, NO BULL," it was under Wagoner's watch GM lost $72 billion in the last four years. And just a couple of months ago, GM car sales dropped 45 percent to their lowest level in nearly 40 years. As for GM stock, it's down 82 percent over the last year.
(voice-over): Wagoner is also taking heat for excessive union contracts.
JAMES GATTUSO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: You know, ultimately, the CEO is responsible for the outcomes and that is the bottom line.
KAYE: Rick Wagoner trying to save GM from collapse and trying to save his own career. Can he do either?
BROWN: So, Randi, I got to ask, if he does get fired, is he going to get one of those big golden parachutes that so many of the CEOs get when they do get fired?
KAYE: That's exactly what we wanted to know so we asked a GM spokesperson out today, and he said that he would get a severance package just like any other GM employee but he doesn't have any special provision for a huge, golden parachute in his contract. What he mainly has is this non-compete clause to keep him from going to a competitor, but as far as the big, golden parachute, they say no way.
BROWN: Interesting. Randi Kaye, tough spot. Thanks. Appreciate it. KAYE: Thank you.
BROWN: As always, we're going to pass the baton to Larry King at the top of the hour. One of America's most influential preachers is going to be with him tonight. Larry, tell us all about it.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You got it, Campbell. The Osteens are with us. The megapreacher Joel and his wife, Victoria, are here at the right time. He's going to give a message of hope and help for millions who are living through scary economic times. We'll be taking your calls. We'll talk about other things, too.
"LARRY KING LIVE Monday" is next -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right. Larry, we'll see you in a few minutes.
We have been talking about this one all day. Imagine telling a judge that you failed a breathalyzer test because of your hand sanitizer? The congressman who said just that is coming up.
BROWN: We like to see people bury the hatchet so we're awarding tonight's "Bulls-Eye" to a couple that kissed and made up on stage right in front of everyone. Let's go to the White House where the president greeted this year's Kennedy Center honorees including Barbra Streisand.
As most people know, she has long been a very outspoken critic of George W. Bush. Remember her old song "Evergreen," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," You Don't Sing Me Love Songs"? There they are. It was a moment.
When we come back, an important chapter in our "Planet in Peril" investigation, a story you're not going to want to miss. The most majestic animals on four legs and you won't believe the terrible things done to them, all for the sake of ivory. We'll have the story when we come back.
BROWN: Tonight, who is killing the elephants? The herds in Central Africa have been all but decimated. Who is doing it and why is revealed in our award winning CNN series "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines."
Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Lisa Ling traveled all over the world to report on the greatest conflicts surrounding our natural resources. In our sneak preview of Thursday night's special, correspondent Lisa Ling follows the alarming path how massacred elephants are actually at the heart of a rebel war. A warning, this is powerful but disturbing material.
LISA LING, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zakama's (ph) rangers are a small but active force. In 12 months, they've found 180 carcasses within the park's boundaries. And in a year and a half, they've confiscated nearly 300 elephant tusks. Things here are getting worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking, you know, quarter of a million dollars probably worth of ivory here.
LING (on camera): So just in this room we're looking at a gold mine on the global market, huh?
(voice-over): So where is it all going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From where?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Africa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Africa.
LING: A recent study by Care for the Wild International said the top two markets for ivory are China and the United States.
(on camera): So by consuming ivory, are people indirectly fueling these militias?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. If you look at these guys' ability to do what they do with the proceeds from those activities, then if you're consuming it, obviously, you're the provider for those people.
LING (voice-over): Nothing can prepare you to see what the demand for ivory does to a single elephant. On the same day we've seen the elephant herd from the air, we have just returned to camp when rangers radioed in the worst kind of news.
(on camera): Nikolai is an adviser to the anti-poaching control, and he says that they just found a fresh elephant carcass about two miles from here and he's going to take us over there to see it.
(voice-over): There are a few signs when you know you're near a fresh elephant carcass. First, you'll see the vultures hovering in the sky. Second, a smell consumes the entire area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's stinky.
LING: Then you see it. Oh, my God.
BROWN: Wow. I know, Lisa, you said that nothing could prepare you for the kind of things that you saw.
LING: Yes. I had heard about it on numerous occasions but, certainly, just seeing this enormous creature shot just for its tusks and then left to die and rot, it was really so incredibly disturbing and, really, the pace at which the massacre is occurring is really the thing that is most startling. I mean, 30 years ago, there were estimated to be over 200,000 of these animals and now that number according to estimates is less than a thousand.
BROWN: And you mentioned the rebel militias. Is that who is behind this?
LING: Well, there are poachers that are surrounding the park and they wait for the rainy season to end and they come into the park. But it's also Chad neighbor Sudan.
LING: And so, the Sudanese rebels or the rebels from Sudan have been apparently waiting to come into the park and they come in and they kill the elephants, steal their tusks to fund their war.
BROWN: And what's being done? I mean, not enough, obviously, but what steps are being taken?
LING: Well, the Chadian government certainly is trying to prevent this from happening and are very vigorously trying to enforce the laws. And there are park rangers who literally risk their lives on a daily basis to try and protect the park. But Chad is a very poor government.
LING: And so what we're trying to do in this "Planet in Peril" series is really raise the awareness. The only way to stop it is to reduce demand of ivory. And, you know, we have to ask the question, what does it say about humanity that we're willing to see an entire species become extinct just for, you know, wall carvings and adornments?
LING: I mean, it really doesn't bode well for the future of this species.
BROWN: Lisa Ling on a really powerful report that is part of this piece. Lisa, thank you very much.
And as we mentioned before, Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Lisa are going to have a lot more. "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" airs Thursday night, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
Coming up next, more than two years ago, the FBI found $90,000 of its money in his freezer. Since then, he's been re-elected and seemed, well, almost invincible. Almost. What has happened now to Congressman Bill Jefferson? When we come back.
BROWN: Tonight, we've got an update on a charter member of our "Rogues Gallery." Just when you think you have heard the final chapter in the William Jefferson story there is another twist. Our Joe Johns in Washington tonight with that. And Joe, you've been following this for months. Remind everybody how William Jefferson became a member of our "Rogues Gallery" in the first place.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, Democratic Congressman Bill Jefferson loses his seat after 18 years in Congress. A lot of people thought he was going to be here a lot longer than that. Here's why.
Jefferson represented a heavily Democratic district. Most of his constituents are African-Americans. For the better part of the last two decades, he's been untouchable even though federal officials say Jefferson got caught in a sting operation in July of 2005. That August, the Feds raided his house and said they found $90,000 of marked FBI sting money in the freezer. But a year later, Jefferson won re-election anyway. Then last year, the marked FBI money in the freezer got him indicted for conspiracy, bribery, and racketeering.
Ever since, he's been awaiting trial saying he's innocent, appealing portions of the case, and running for re-election. Along comes Anh Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese refugee and Republican lawyer, who no one ever even heard of until now, and then the seemingly untouchable Bill Jefferson is defeated. But the experts say Jefferson's loss was probably just the perfect storm.
Despite all of his legal problems, he probably would have won if his supporters hadn't been confused by the election schedule and failed to turn out. The dates of the primary and the major congressional election got postponed due to Hurricane Gustav. As for Cao, he'll be the first Vietnamese-American in Congress, Campbell.
BROWN: All right. So kind of a historic moment there, Joe. Thanks very much for that.
JOHNS: It is.
BROWN: Let me bring in Jeff Toobin. I know we certainly haven't heard the very last of William Jefferson. He's not the only lawmaker getting his day in court. And Jeffrey is here because we want to talk about a few other rogues as well as Bill Jefferson.
But let me ask you about him first. Now I guess his focus becomes on his trial which is scheduled to start early next year I think.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This trial has been delayed and delayed, but it looks like he will be former congressman cold cash when he goes on trial.
BROWN: But is this -- I mean, how serious is it in terms of the charges?
TOOBIN: Oh, it's a huge case.
BROWN: Are we talking about jail time? TOOBIN: Oh, big time. This is a case involving the famous $90,000 but some other money as well. If he is convicted, he is looking at a major jail sentence, five years, maybe even 10 years. So this case is no joke.
BROWN: OK. Jeff, let me also, we want to remind people and ask you about this. Two other elected officials who didn't quite rise to the start of our "Rogues Gallery" but nonetheless they had some run- ins with the law. And first, take a look at New York Congressman Vito Fossella.
He was arrested for drunk driving. After running a red light, blowing over the legal speed limit back in May, today he is sentenced to five days in a Virginia prison, five days. So, is that all you get these days for drunk driving, running a red light?
TOOBIN: Often. You're a little tough, Campbell.
BROWN: I was.
TOOBIN: I don't think that's an outrageously short sentence.
BROWN: I'm very -- I'm very tough on DUI.
TOOBIN: It's obviously a very dangerous crime to be convicted of, but five days is a fairly typical sentence.
BROWN: OK. But the best part of the story...
TOOBIN: Great part.
BROWN: ... his defense. It involved the use of hand sanitizer and radio waves. Explain.
TOOBIN: The Purell defense. His lawyers said that he used Purell all the time when he was on the House floor over and over again.
TOOBIN: And Purell, as you know, has alcohol in it.
TOOBIN: So the idea was the alcohol that showed up in his blood had actually seeped through his hands, not through liquor that he was drinking.
BROWN: A DOD (ph) from Purell.
TOOBIN: Not so much. The judge said, I don't think so.
BROWN: But you got to give him credit for trying.
TOOBIN: You know, that's pretty clever. That has actually --
BROWN: But what about the radio waves?
TOOBIN: Same thing. Same idea that the radio waves distorted the findings of the blood alcohol -- the thing you blow into at a DUI --
BROWN: It was a perfect storm.
TOOBIN: It was lots of bad luck for Vito Fossella. He, too, will join William Jefferson as a former congressman.
BROWN: OK. Wait. Let me -- before we have to go, an update on our favorite bra stuffing state senator from Massachusetts. Take a look.
Here's her picture. You might recall, she hit our "Bulls-Eye" a few months back for this photo. She was arraigned -- well, not that one -- she was arraigned in court today where she pleaded not guilty for this photo. There we go.
TOOBIN: There you go.
BROWN: She pleaded not guilty to eight counts of extortion including taking thousands of dollars in bribes to secure liquor license. She was caught stashing the money in her bra which you saw in that photo there. If she's convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison. Not condoning stuffing your bra with bribe payments here, but that --
TOOBIN: Maybe the pants didn't have pockets. You know, we need to -- we need to keep an open mind about these things.
Up to 20 years. Chances are it would be far lower than that. But, again, bribery as in the Jefferson case, the courts take it very seriously, so a five-year sentence would, by no means, be out of the question. Twenty years I don't think is going to happen.
BROWN: All right.
TOOBIN: You know, and she's innocent until proven guilty so we'll see.
BROWN: We will stay on top of these cases for sure. It's a fabulous case.
Jeff Toobin, as always, good to have you here.
TOOBIN: All right.
BROWN: That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching everybody. We'll see you right back here tomorrow night.
"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.