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AMERICAN MORNING

Gore to Meet Obama and Biden; Beyond the Background Check; Fran Drescher Wants Clinton's Open Seat; Recession Getting Weapons off the Streets

Aired December 9, 2008 - 08:00   ET

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


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: It's a minute past the hour. We're looking at the top stories now. Congress and the White House trying to broker a deal to rescue the struggling auto industry. Negotiators said to be close to an agreement on plan that would led Detroit's big three borrow, up to $15 billion in the short term.
Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, we ask General Motor's vice chairman, Bob Lutz, how his company would use that money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB LUTZ, VICE CHAIRMAN, GENERAL MOTORS: This is simply a bridge loan, which will get us into the next administration, where we would hope we could do something more fundamental. Because the main problem is, the lack of liquidity and the lack of revenue flowing in as we facing the -- absolutely the lowest car market in history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The rescue plan also calls for the big three automakers to restructure under the watchful eye of a so-called car czar.

Senator Hillary Clinton made her first trip to the State Department since President-elect Barack Obama nominated her to be his secretary of state. Clinton met with the Obama transition team, also had dinner with current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice talked about her likely successor yesterday on CNN's "LATE EDITION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "LATE EDITION": Do you think she will be a good secretary of state?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I do.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence in this new national security team that Barack Obama is putting together.

RICE: They are all people I know, and they are all people of substance. And the most important thing is that they are all people who are going to have the fundamental interest and values of the United States at the core of what they do.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: So who will replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate? It's a big question. How about the nanny star, Fran Drescher? Drescher is throwing her hat in the ring for Clinton Senate seat saying she is an authentic and honest person, and the Capitol Hill needs more of that. By the way, Fran Drescher is going to be our guest on AMERICAN MORNING, Thursday, to talk more about why she thinks she would fill that role well.

Also, he's ready for primetime. Jay Leno, reportedly staying with NBC after Conan O'Brien takes over the "Tonight's Show" in 2010. NBC is expected to announce this morning that Leno will remain at the network as a host for a weeknight show, 10:00 p.m.

Former Vice President Al Gore will sit down with President-elect Barack Obama in Chicago today. And today's meeting is raising some speculation that Obama maybe eying Gore for a slot in his administration. Elaine Quijano is tracking things from Chicago for us this morning.

Elaine, what have you found out?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democratic officials, Kiran, insist that President-elect Barack Obama is not looking to tap former Vice President Al Gore for a cabinet-level position or any other job inside the Obama administration.

Transition officials are saying this meeting today is really going to focus on energy issues and climate change. No surprise, of course, because Al Gore won the Nobel Prize -- Nobel Peace prize last year for his efforts to raise awareness of global warming.

His documentary on the subject "An Inconvenient Truth" won two Oscars. However, it is a fact that the president-elect still has to name his pick for energy secretary as well as EPA administrator. And a close friend of Gore told our John King something interesting as well. This person said "The Gore trip is for more than just a chat. He would not burn that much carbon flying to Chicago just to talk."

Kiran?

CHETRY: Very interesting. Anything about the president-elect's agenda that we can expect to be addressed in today's meeting?

QUIJANO: Well, certainly green jobs. This is following on the hills of President-elect Obama saying over the weekend, that he thinks one way to help deliver those 2.5 million jobs that he's promised is with green jobs. Doing things like modernizing schools, upgrading federal buildings for instance to install energy efficient technologies, putting in things like energy-efficient light bulbs, getting rid of old heating systems, putting in more energy efficient heating systems. The president-elect really believes that is a way not only to save tax payer dollars, but also to help put Americans back to work.

Kiran?

CHETRY: Al right. Good stuff. Elaine Quijano for us this morning in Chicago. Thank you.

So how does the country think Barack Obama is handling this transition to power? We have the latest poll numbers for you. An overwhelming 79 percent of those surveyed approve of the job the president-elect is doing with 42 days until the inauguration.

So if you are going to be applying for a job with the Obama administration, naturally your background will be checked carefully, which means revealing everything from your credit report to the last photos of New Year's Eve. So what happens to all your personal data that you turned over? Jason Carroll found out and you may be surprised.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, the Obama transition team has been flooded with applicants who want to work for the president-elect. But what will happen to all that information those applicants are so willing to hand over?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): He drew enormous crowds as a candidate, now as President-elect, Barack Obama is attracting thousands wanting to work for him. More than 300,000, according to a spokesman from his transition team.

JACKI CISNEROS, JOB APPLICANT: I would want to be a part of that. I would want to be a part of that history that he's making for our country.

CARROLL: Hopeful applicants like Jacki Cisneros have to turn over a great deal of personal information. Facebook pages, credit reports, names of everyone they lived with for the past decade. And there's the disclosure questionnaire.

CISNEROS: It is pretty detailed. I mean, I was calling my dad and asking my husband questions.

CARROLL: There are 63 questions, such as have you ever sent an electronic communication that could be a possible source of embarrassment for you?

CISNEROS: Assuming that they're going to keep all of this information to themselves and, you know, not go putting it on some public Web site somewhere, I don't really mind it at all.

CARROLL: Those in the privacy business question what happens to all that data.

MARC ROTTENBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: We will have access to it. How is it going to be used? Do they have a policy in place to destroy the records when they're done reviewing?

CARROLL: An Obama spokesman would not comment. But according to the National Archives, information collected during the transition becomes the personal property of the president-elect. He may do with it as he pleases.

LISA SOTTO, PARTNER, HUNTON & WILLIAMS: The idea is that you don't want to have data sitting around after you don't need it anymore because, of course, there's more risk.

CARROLL: What is likely to happen to the applicant's personal data? It could be turned over to the Obama White House and become part of the official presidential record, and as such it would then be turned over to the National Archives. Jacki Cisneros isn't worried about what the archives decide to do with the data from there.

CISNEROS: It could just be my enthusiasm for wanting a job within the administration and at the White House. Here it is. Do with it what you want. I have nothing to hide.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Some privacy experts question if the archives could end up posting an applicant's Facebook page or other personal information in a public exhibit, possibly in a future Obama presidential library. A spokeswoman at the National Archives says that is not likely to happen. She says they have guidelines protecting people's privacy.

Kiran?

John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Jason Carroll for us this morning. Jason, thanks. We were talking about this with James Williamson in just a couple of minutes ago. With half a million jobs lost just last month, experts now say America faces the worst job market in 15 years. But here is the good news, some industries are booming, and it's not just the cab business. You just need to know where to look. We will show you where the jobs are this morning.

And after two decades of the helm of Playboy enterprise, Hugh Hefner's daughter Christie is leaving the family business, and she is here to tell us why. It's eight and a half minutes now after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": McDonald's is reporting that despite the bad economy their domestic sales were up last month. McDonald's sales up? Whose sales are up right now? McDonald's are up. Yes, which just goes to show you a great thing about our country, you are never too poor to get fat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Conan O'Brien ringing in in the bad economy.

It seems like every day another major company announces a new round of job cut. So is there any chance of finding employment in this tough economic times? We talked to the cab driver just a minute ago. MBA graduate can't find a job, so he is driving cab here in New York City.

Well, Allan Chernoff is here to tell us, though, that the future in some areas at least might be a little brighter than it appears currently.

Hey, Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. In some areas in fact the news is good. There are plenty of jobs in certain fields and companies are actually hiring.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Maria Tessinari changed careers to become a nurse, knowing that in her new profession she'd be marketable no matter how bad the economy.

MARIA TESSINARI, NURSE: I knew that I would graduate and have a job, and all my friends who have graduated nursing schools will all have jobs.

CHERNOFF: Even during the worse recession in decades, health care professions added 34,000 positions last month, while the economy was losing more than half a million jobs. An important reason, more Americans are following Maria's example.

MARY MUNDINGER, DEAN, COLUMBIA UNIV. SCHOOL OF NURSING: Columbia has a program specifically designed for career changers. And we've seen that program become more competitive every year. This year it was a huge increase. In November, over November, applications, they were up 50 percent.

CHERNOFF: To meet demand for nursing education, Columbia is hiring instructors. Many other universities are hiring, in spite of the recession, because in tough economic times, many people go back to school to boost their skills.

In fact, some for profit schools are thriving. The stock of education company Apollo Group has climbed 60 percent in the past six months, while the Dow industrial average was plummeting.

Beyond education, other fields are still seeing job growth -- computer systems design, management and technology consulting, oil and gas drilling, and logging. Accounting and financial analysis also remain in demand.

DAWN FAY, REGIONAL V.P., ROBERT HALF INTERNATIONAL: It will almost create more opportunity in the analysis, budgeting and forecasting area when times are tougher, because people are watching every dollar that much more closely. So there's certainly opportunity that does get created.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHERNOFF: Take away here, don't be discouraged by the fact that the economy is in a recession. Many companies are still hiring even if others are laying off. And also, simply because it's the holiday season right now, don't assume that companies are not interviewing. In fact, the recruiter, Dawn Fay says this is actually a very good time to be interviewing.

ROBERTS: You know, we see a lot of these retail outlets aren't hiring like they normally do at the Christmas season, but maybe a good time to get out there and give your resume to somebody else.

CHERNOFF: That's right. Other fields. You want to be focusing towards fields that are growing, look at your skills set, see if some of your skills might apply.

ROBERTS: Yes. I guess retraining too is obviously a big part of it, too.

CHERNOFF: It's huge. And the education company is benefiting.

ROBERTS: If you only got a single skill saved, get out there and learn something else. You got to make yourself valuable to somebody. Allan, thanks for that. It's 14-1/2 minutes after the hour now.

From the nanny to the Senate. Fran Drescher says she is eying Hillary Clinton's Senate seat? Is she serious? Next, making that voice heard on Capitol Hill? You are watching the "Most News in the Morning."

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS-COMEDIAN: I'm fortunate to be in a place in my life where I'm able to choose what I wanted to do and I want it to be meaningful and gratifying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, that's actress-comedian Fran Drescher, as she begins her role with the State Department as a U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy. But the star of "Nanny" doesn't want that to be her last job in government or public service. In fact, she is throwing her hat in the ring for Hillary Clinton's open seat. Yes.

Alina Cho is following the story for us this morning. It may seem an unlikely path for her.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We all thought it was a joke.

CHETRY: But she is serious?

CHO: She is extremely serious, Kiran. Good morning, again. Good morning, everybody. Move over Caroline Kennedy, the Nanny wants to be the senator. It's true. This is the role that made Fran Drescher famous in the 1990s. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NANNY")

FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS AND COMEDIENNE: You know me, always a bridal consultant never a bride. Right, Danny?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can I say?

DRESCHER: Well, how about here's a ring. Pick a pattern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Oh, that laugh. But the 51-year-old star of the TV show "The Nanny" is also a public advocate, as Kiran just said. Did you know she is a State Department Diplomacy Envoy? She recently traveled to Eastern Europe. Her focus is women's health issues. That's because Drescher is a cancer survivor.

Her spokesman released a statement to CNN saying Fran Drescher, actress, women's health advocate and public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department announced that she is throwing her hat into the ring of contenders for the Senate seat, being vacated by Secretary of State designate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Now, CNN has reached out to the man who will ultimately make the decision on who will replace Clinton -- that would be New York Governor, David Patterson. So far, Kiran, Patterson still hasn't gotten back to us. But Hillary Clinton's office has.

Her spokesman within the past hour told CNN, "This is entirely Governor Patterson's decision, and we are respecting the privacy of his process." Nothing more.

Certainly, Clinton Senate seat is a hot one. Caroline Kennedy has been inquiring about the job. That got a lot of attention. And another big name? New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Now if, and this is a big if, Drescher were to get the job, she wouldn't be the first Hollywood type to move into politics. Remember, Fred Grandy, gofer from "The Love Boat." He was a U.S. congressman from Iowa. Jessie "The Body" Ventura, professional wrestler turned Minnesota governor. Last time, I forgot this, Kiran, but I didn't this time. The Terminator turned California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course, who could forget him?

Now Drescher clearly believe she is qualified for the Clinton-Senate seat. She told New York magazine, "I'm an authentic and honest person. I think Capitol Hill needs more of that." Certainly, that is true.

CHETRY: Yes.

CHO: So we'll see what happens.

CHETRY: We will see.

CHO: Patterson has about a month to make a decision. CHETRY: Right. And as you said, they are not really leaking much information about it, but we're going to have Fran Drescher herself on the show, Thursday.

CHO: That's right. I can't wait.

CHETRY: Let us know if she's reached out.

CHO: That's her TIVO if you are not home.

CHETRY: That's right. Exactly. Alina, great to see you. Thanks.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Well, getting criminals to trade in guns, to feed their families. How the economy is helping police in Compton, California get guns off the streets. It's 21 minutes now after the hour.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. WILLIAM RYAN, COMPTON SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT: We're seeing everything from handguns, rifles, shotguns and assault rifles. For an assault rifle, we'll give individuals $200 gift card. For other working firearms, we give $100 gift card.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, the program is called Gifts for Guns. People in Los Angeles, California can turn in their weapons for gift cards to buy Christmas gifts or even groceries. And they are turning them in in record numbers this year.

Joining me now to talk more about the program and where things are going from here, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Sheriff Bach, it's great to see you. You had a real successful year this year. I think if I got the count right, you got 965 guns turned in compared to 387 in last year's program. What do you think is behind that increase?

LEE BACA, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF: Well, I think there's a lot of reasons. First of all, the City of Compton has great people and great businesses, and Best Buy, Ralph's Market, along with Target have offered these gift cards. And we put some (INAUDIBLE) forfeiture money in as well. And I think citizens came out to help us with the retrieval of these weapons.

And I think that people are realizing that guns are not going to help them live a better life, particularly in an area that has a lot of incidents with gangs and the things that cause people to feel unsettled. So I think it's time for a holiday cheer for them.

ROBERTS: Now, do you think it's a lot of economic pressure on people as well? They don't have enough money to get through the holiday season, so to bring in the gun, and as we said working gun, a handgun that's $100, working assault rifle, that's $200. And you had those gift certificates from Target, Best Buy, and Ralph's Supermarket. Which gift certificate is prove to be the most popular?

BACA: Ralph's. I think that people needed the food. And that's just kind of a sad commentary. But it is reflective of the times that when all things considered, the human needs are come first.

ROBERTS: Now, did you get -- I know that this was an anonymous drop off program. Did you get a sense, though, of who it was who was handing in these guns? One of the sergeants that was involved in the program said that he seem to think it was more family-oriented people rather than criminals who are dropping off these weapons?

BACA: Well, that's true. For the most part, it was family- oriented people. But remember, we received 25 assault weapons, which are pretty significant in the war of crime down in the City of Compton. We also receive two detonation devices and two can grenades, and some explosives, and over 80 pounds of ammunition. And that's a whole lot of ammunition for people who just have casual weapon. So I think that there is a mixture, but for the most part, it was families, but there were some serious weapons turned in.

ROBERTS: So a question that people might have, I mean, even if the weapons are serious, if they're in the hands of law-abiding citizens, and they are turning them in because they cannot afford food or some of the other staples of life, are you really taking a bite out of crime with a program like this?

BACA: Well, I think we are. I think the proliferation of handguns and assault weapons, and certainly gangs know how to get a hold of these weapons, and having it infused in families. And let's face it. I never met a gang member, a homeless person, so these weapons are in family's homes. And the idea to de-intensify weaponry in home is a good idea. But if it's done voluntarily then, the people can't claim that we're doing something contrary to our Second Amendment.

ROBERTS: You know, Compton, California, where this program was operating, it's notorious, it's a high-crime area there in Los Angeles County. You've had a pretty dramatic reduction. 18 percent, I believe, in the number of homicides. There's only been three this year. You know, on track for a record low. But so many municipalities, counties and cities are running into this crutch, where the revenue just aren't keeping up with the amount of money that they need to continue things like these crime programs.

Can you see a point where you're going to be stuck between a rock and hard place, where your increased policing in places like Compton is going to fall victim to budgetary constraints. And what kind of affect might that have in your ability to police those areas in the future?

BACA: Well, that certainly is our greatest fear. When local revenues go down, police resources become constrained and then reductions in staff occur. I have been fortunate in the County of Los Angeles, because our board of supervisors have balanced their budget well. We have a little bit in savings. And my hope if I can just hold with what I have, we will continue with these programs.

More innovation, more leadership by deputies, going a different way, solving problems, enforcement alone is not going to do it. We have to get the cooperation of the public. This is one great way to do it.

ROBERTS: Sheriff, we wish you continued success and your efforts to lower the crime rate there. And also, interesting sign of the times to see how many people are turning in weapons just to get food. Sheriff Lee Baca --

BACA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Good to see you this morning. Thanks for getting up early.

BACA: Thank you.

CHETRY: Coming up on 28 minutes after the hour. A look at the top stories this morning. A German cruise company evacuating hundreds of passengers from around the world trip as the ship passes through pirate infested waters of Somalia. Instead, the passengers will board a plane and then rejoin their cruise in Oman once it sails through the danger zone with only a skeleton crew.

Mediators in Chicago are hoping to bring an end to a sit-in that's taking place at a factory. They hope to do that some time today. They hinted at a successful resolution late last night. The workers are demanding that labor laws be followed giving them two months salary if they're going to be laid off.

President Bush talked about his belief in God and evolution in an interview with ABC, which aired last night. The president saying that his belief in the Bible's teaching is not incompatible with the theory. The president also says his faith is what helped him with his drinking problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: God, I believe you came into my life, and in this case through the form of Billy Graham that was the beginning of a decision to quit drinking, and with his entry in my life, which he introduce religion helped me quit drinking, I guess the best way to put it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Military investigators are trying to determine what caused the deadly crash for a fighter jet in San Diego neighborhood. Three people on the ground were killed, including a baby. And one child is still missing. The pilot of the FA18 Hornet managed to eject safely before impact. CNN's Chris Lawrence is following the story. He is live in San Diego this morning.

Chris? CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kiran. It's amazing how normal everything is around us. The homes, the neighborhood, until you get right there. And this crash races two huge questions. One, how did it happen? And two, how did these neighbors know it's not going to happen again?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't breathe this stuff. It's an F-18 that will kill you.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): All this started with a young Marine on a routine training mission, practicing landings on an aircraft carrier. But as the pilot headed back to base, something went wrong with his plane. He radioed for help and officials ordered an emergency landing at Miramar Air Station.

As the pilot crossed over this neighborhood, the plane failed. And Marine officials say he tried to aim it at a deserted canyon.

CAPT. STEPHEN PAAP, U.S. MARINE CORPS: He did whatever he could to try to prevent the actual crash. But he had to eject, and once the pilot ejects, the plane kind of just takes it course.

LAWRENCE: Neighbors heard the engines screeching and looked up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I saw the pilot eject, and I heard some funny noises and then I heard it hit and exploded.

LAWRENCE: The massive impact ignited a fireball and destroyed two homes. One was empty, and the other is where a grandmother, a mother and two children lived. Three of them were found dead within hours of the crash. Some residents say an accident like this is just a matter of time.

JOHN JAMES, LIVES 3 DOORS FROM CRASH: They always have training missions and sooner or later the equipment is going to fail. You know, this isn't the first and it's not going to be the last.

LAWRENCE (on-camera): In addition to the two homes that were leveled, pieces of jet broke off and hit three others as well.

(voice-over): Burning debris scorched the surface of two of those homes.

MAURICE LUQUE, SAN DIEGO FIRE RESCUE: And a third had a big piece of jet part fly into the garage and caused a big slice.

LAWRENCE: But in those homes, no one was hurt. It was the high school nearby, investigators say this could have been much worse.

LUQUE: Theoretically, this could have wiped out you know over half a dozen homes depending how it landed.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAWRENCE: Now the F-18 is one of the more reliable planes flying for the military. It is designed to fly with just one of its engine, but if it loses both it can't just glide in for a landing, in that case it would probably drop like a rock. Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: Question. You said that there was still one child missing. I mean what are the hopes that anyone is going to be found alive?

LAWRENCE: Not in that wreckage. And in fact, you got some indication of that by the fact that when night came last night, they called off the search for the night and said they would pick it up again here in the morning. You know, if there was a chance of someone still being a live in there, they never would have stopped that search.

CHETRY: Such a tragedy. All right. Chris Lawrence for us in San Diego this morning. Thank you.

Military investigators are trying to again figure out exactly what caused that to happen.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: Yes, I mean you can imagine, you are there in your house, your grandmother, two children, and boom, a jet fighter drops out of the sky. How do you get your head around that? I don't know.

Federal authorities say suspicious letters were sent to governors in at least six states on Monday. Each one of them contained a powdery substance. They were addressed to governors in Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and Rhode Island. Test on five of the letters showed that the substance was just harmless powder. Results of the Missouri latter was expected to come back today.

If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, listen to this one. It may cost you a Japanese restaurant in New York, now charging customers for food that they do not finish when they order from the all you can eat menu. The store's owner said he added the cost to cut down on waste, customers say they don't mind because it helps their waist line.

And then you have to wipe that smile off your face and ditch the hat and glasses and scarf when you go in for licenses in Indiana. State officials say that new rules are needed so facial recognition software can spot fraudulent license applications. The new technology works by comparing old pictures on file to protect people from identity fraud.

CHETRY: Well, she is the daughter of legendary Hugh Hefner, and after a decade of running the family business, Christie Hefner is calling it quits. WE'RE going to find out why she's leaving "Playboy."

Also, if you're too busy to exercise, somehow president-elect Obama manages to make room for it. How? We're going to ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

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ROBERTS: Finding excuses not to exercise is pretty easy, not enough time. You got to work, or you don't feel like it today but don't tell that to the president-elect, he apparently is a total gym rat. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Atlanta for us this morning. You say working out six days a week, and that's a lot in anybody's books.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and who could be busier than the president-elect, after 21 months of campaigning and he still finds time to workout. It does seem like a lot, especially for people who don't exercise that much. But we got a better idea of how he breaks it down. And in some ways it's pretty perfect in term of the way he breaks down cardio and weight lifting, three days a week, 45 minutes of cardio. That's right on target with the American Heart Association guidelines. He also does three days of weight lifting. And as you mentioned, John, even on the road, he finds time to get this in. You know, he was up at the National Governor's Association meeting in Philadelphia, he got to the gym over there and was on the treadmill, and someone peeked at his time that he was running, he was doing level 6.0 which is 10 minute miles and did that for a while. So he really exercise even on the road and basketball as you see there is a very good cross training exercise. He gets the cardios and he get the weights and he gets the cross training. Great stuff. You know about a full hour of full court basketball burns about 1,000 calories in someone his size. So you know that's part of the way he stays so lean. "Men's Fitness" magazine additionally has named him one of the 25 most fit men in America. Two years now. this most recent year, 2008 but also back in 2005 as well. He is about 6'2" tall, and weighs about 180 pounds. He is a fit guy, John.

ROBERTS: But we know he's got some bad habits. He picks up a cigarette now and then. What do we know about potential good habits with let's say nutrition.

GUPTA: Yes. They called other people's cigarettes. I mean that he bums one from someone else, he says. His diet seems to be good. You see him a lot on the campaign trail eating energy bars and drinking vitamin water, but you know, I guess he also has slipped from time to time as you see there, sometimes ice cream, a waffle, I think that was. And hot dog and French fries, and even drinking a beer. We are told that the White House staff will be cooking more gourmet Mexican meals. He and the First Lady to be seemed to like the gourmet Mexican food and he's probably eating a lot of that. Also, you'd be interested to know this. He doesn't like beets, he and the white shoot would not get along at all. He does not eat it. They're not going to be on the list, John.

ROBERTS: I love beets. Roasted beets are fabulous and they are good for you. Yes.

GUPTA: Sometimes they are an acquired taste for some people.

ROBERTS: Yes. I tell you I have been feeling like a schlub lately, I had a distal clavicular excision, shoulder surgery in other words on Friday, and just looking forward to getting back there in the gym, but not just yet.

GUPTA: Yes, you are in good shape. I look forward to seeing you back there. I'm sure it will go well for you.

ROBERTS: I tell you it gets harder and harder as time goes on. Sanjay, thanks very much. And thanks for the "Fit Nation" report.

We'll see you later on in New York, by the way. And by the way, don't adjust your mouth, don't adjust your set, CNN logo here on the bottom of your screen has turned from red to green, and it's not an early celebration of St. Patrick's Day it's because the second installment of CNN's award winning series "Planet in Peril" debuts this Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. And so nothing wrong with your television, your flat screen or whatever. It's us. Kiran.

CHETRY: Hey, can you say your surgery procedure three times fast again?

ROBERTS: Distal clavicular excision, arthroscopic distal clavicular excision. You can also call it a distal acromioclavicular section or shoulder surgery.

CHETRY: Wow. Well, you recovered fast from that shoulder surgery.

ROBERTS: It hurts. I'm suffering this morning.

CHETRY: Well you look great anyway.

Some big changes in store for "Playboy." Hugh Hefner's daughter stepping down as CEO. In a moment she's going to join us live and tell us why and also talk about the future of the franchise and the company.

Plus, every one likes to dress for success, what do you wear for your first day as commander in chief. We're going to take a look at Obama's inauguration wardrobe just ahead. It's 40 minutes after the hour.

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CHETRY: Welcome back to "The Most News in the Morning." Well after two decades at the helm of "Playboy," Christie Hefner, daughter of Hugh Hefner is leaving the family business. She'll be stepping down as chairman and CEO at the end of the next month. So what is next for Christie as well as the "Playboy" brand. Christie Hefner joins us now live. Great to see you.

CHRISTIE HEFNER, "PLAYBOY" CEO AND CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

CHETRY: So you're leaving at time when the company is suffering during this economic down turn like a lot of companies are. Advertising and circulation down and also I guess adult TV and movie programs have really lost a lot of ground because of free porn if you will on the web. So what is the future of "Playboy"? HEFNER: Well, the future is very bright. Because even though as you quite rightly point out, both from an ad perspective and in terms of the stock market, it's not a healthy economy, and I think most CEOs and most commentators would say that 2009 is going to be a tough year for everybody. But that makes you look at the fundamentals. So you look through the fact that there has been indiscriminate across the board, selling in the market and therefore many companies, "Playboy" included are trading at a fraction of their true value. And you say what are the fundamentals.

In "Playboy's" case, it has a fundamentally strong balance sheet with under market interest rate debt and $25 million plus of cash, and very solidly profitable businesses. And so unlike some traditional media companies that are just now trying to extend their content and brand, "Playboy" TV celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, and we are solidly profitable and growing - Playboy online is profitable and we'll re-launch -

CHETRY: Because you guys have had to move away from what made "Playboy" made iconic, the magazine, right, hasn't the internet sort of made magazines more difficult to be successful.

HEFNER: Well, I think what the internet has done is made it imperative that magazine companies think of themselves as brands and content that live beyond the pages. So we were an early believer in that. We launched "Playboy" online before any other national magazine back in '94, and that and mobile are very profitable. And I think you are right, the future is an integration of delivery of print with delivery of content digitally.

CHETRY: You know, there is this fascination with and I'm a fan of the show "Girls next door" and also just the fascinating life that your father has led so you are a successful businesswoman, you're his daughter, you've run this company at the same time. I mean the company really has become famous for naked women and "Playboy" bunnies. How do you square the two? I mean who is the role model for other women out there, you or the bunnies?

HEFNER: Well, I think part of what "Playboy" actually has always represented is the idea of empowerment and choice. And I think that's true whether you're choosing to be a model or a commentator or a CEO, and having been CEO for 20 years, and I guess I was told the other day the longest serving female CEO in either stock exchange, I can tell you women have come along way in business, but there is still a long way to go, and I expect to continue to be involved in working for women's rights and opportunities.

CHETRY: Do you love what "Playboy" stands for? I mean do you love working with the models, and the young women?

HEFNER: I do, because I think that, you know, what is wonderful about "Playboy," is it sort of combines the intellectual challenges whether it's the content editorially or the magazine or the businesses challenges, with that sense of fun. That is you know the kind of what makes us get up in the morning and look forward to life.

CHETRY: Of course you know the classic line, I get "Playboy," but it's only for the articles. I only read the articles.

HEFNER: Yes, and I always say when guys who say that look, when you date a women, are you interested in whether she's attractive or whether she's smart and funny? Probably both.

CHETRY: Right. Very interesting stuff. Also, the "Girls next door" which is this "Playboy" hit reality show that featured an inside look at the lives, I mean your dad is famous for having his girlfriends. There's one of them called Madison there and coming up, how has this show helped introduce "Playboy" and your dad to a younger audience and what is the future for that?

HEFNER: Well I think you're right that the success of the show has expanded the brand, but particularly among young women, which is really the core audience for the show. And that's been great because we do about a billion dollars a year in global sales of "Playboy" products, whether it's swimsuit of lingerie or apparel or accessories and most of that are women's products. So having a show like "The Girls Next Door" which is going into its sixth season, gives us a chance to sort of present the brand to young women and young men and it's been positive for us.

CHETRY: It's funny. This show is going to be changing a little bit, because his current girlfriends are all moving on in their lives in different ways. He is 72 and he is getting older and his girlfriends are getting younger because now he's going to be dating 19-year-old twins, do you see your dad slowing down?

HEFNER: I don't think so and I said many years ago and now it's definitely true, that he would be working full speed at the company long after I had moved on to do other things, and his mother lived to be 101 and was only ill the last year of her life. So I think he figures he's got decades yet to go.

CHETRY: Well it's wonderful to talk to you this morning, Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO of "Playboy" Enterprises. Thanks.

HEFNER: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Fascinating stuff.

Inauguration day fast approaching. So what do you wear when you are front and center on such a historic day. Outfitting the Obamas. We got a fashion preview for you, coming up.

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ROBERTS (voice-over): The last days of a presidency and things are really getting loose.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's not even gone yet, and I miss him already.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Moos looks back at George W.'s silly side.

You are watching "the most news in the morning." (END VIDEOTAPE)

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ROBERTS: Welcome back to "the most news in the morning."

When it comes to formal affairs, it doesn't get any bigger than inauguration day, now just 42 days away. The entire fashion world will be watching to see what the first family will be wearing. And our Lola Ogunnaike has got preview for us this morning.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I sure do.

ROBERTS: Cue Lola.

OGUNNAIKE: I am here. I'm here. So apparently it's rumored that Barack Obama will be wearing a Hart Schaffner Marx tuxedo. A really simple, classic understated tuxedo. It's from this company that's right outside of Chicago.

ROBERTS: It's a nice cut, isn't it?

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, and he is a nice, tall lean man and he wears clothes very well, and apparently he has been faithful to this brand for a long time. He's been wearing them for all of his major events the entire summer. They are an American company, over 100 years old, and they are union friendly and have a great union ties. It's a correct fashion statement and a political statement as well.

ROBERTS: I like that. It looks nice. The single button looks good too. I got a double button, I don't really like it.

OGUNNAIKE: Well, maybe you should update. I mean, this is under $1,000, so it's really affordable. And Barack Obama -

ROBERTS: That's not bad.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, and he kept his tuxedo the one he had last well over a decade, and so this will get a lot of wear, too.

ROBERTS: Yes, I mean, men are simple. You know, you just take a black suit and you put a tie, maybe a tie, maybe not, depending on how you feel on that day. But when it comes to dressing a woman, well then it's a whole new thing.

OGUNNAIKE: It's a lot harder for the ladies. Kiran, you know.

CHETRY: So many decisions, so many colors, and Michelle Obama has a lot to choose from.

ROBERTS: And so much criticism waiting for you if you get it wrong.

CHETRY: Right.

OGUNNAIKE: Exactly. One false move and it could be over for you. So I think that she may decide to play it safe. The Narciso Rodriguez dress that she wore the other evening got mixed reviews. So she may want to play it safe. She may actually go with the Chicago based designer too, Maria Pinto. She has designed a number of her dresses for the past few months. And they've done well. The green dress that she wore on the night of her Democratic National Convention speech and also the purple dress that she wore the evening that Barack Obama accepted the nomination, and they have worked for her so far.

ROBERTS: Well, I'm just one of the few people that apparently in this country who liked what she wore the night she gave the speech at the DNC. It looked great on her.

CHETRY: There were others - she got some pretty catty criticisms. Some say she looked like she had dressed a moose back stage. I mean -

ROBERTS: No, not that one. That was the election night.

CHETRY: OK so you like the teal green Pinto -

ROBERTS: Yes. Very simple. I thought it looked great on her.

OGUNNAIKE: I enjoyed the teal one as well but I'm not sure -

CHETRY: The purple with the belt was my favorite.

ROBERTS: She wears simple very well.

OGUNNAIKE: And classic sheaths, nice cinched waist call it a day.

ROBERTS: Yes, and I also liked Cindy McCain's outfit, the night that she came out with Laura Bush. Are you out of your mind?

CHETRY: I like -

OGUNNAIKE: Oh go ahead, you did?

ROBERTS: It was the quarter of a million dollar one.

CHETRY: And the collar back there it looked a little -

ROBERTS: I was a star trek fan. No, I'm kidding.

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, I love it.

ROBERTS: So here are some designs, right?

OGUNNAIKE: Yes.

ROBERTS: That's nice.

OGUINNAIKE: "Women's Wear Daily" invited a number of designers to sketch their dream dress for Michelle Obama, and they reached out to people like Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Betsey Johnson, --

ROBERTS: Who was that?

OGUNNAIKE: That was Monique Lhuillier. The red number was Monique Lhuillier.

CHETRY: That's it.

OGUNNAIKE: Now this blue dress is Michael Kors, also very classic. It would play up her waist. This is Oscar de la Renta -

CHETRY: Beautiful.

OGUNNAIKE: And he dresses a number of the first ladies, always has and then this with a simple classic.

Yes, this is Tracy Reese who has actually worked with the Obama camp as well with their fund raising efforts. So -

CHETRY: And you need something that you can dance in?

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, you need to be able to move. So I think she will do anything too form fitting to the body. I think she'll just want some movement, because they like to get down, and there are going to be a lot of parties to go to that night.

ROBERTS: I got a picture of myself and the soon-to-be first lady, we did an interview in Denver and she is wearing a pair of jeans and a blue t-shirt and she looks great.

OGUNNAIKE: She does wear clothes well. And fashion really likes her. It's going to be interesting to see how they convince her to go with them. I can't wait to see what she's going to wear.

CHETRY: You know we're going to be talking about it.

OGUNNAIKE: That's for sure.

ROBERTS: Lola, thank you so much.

CHETRY: Thanks for the preview Lola.

Well on the lighter side of President Bush as he gets ready to leave office, our Jeanne Moos looks back at some of the funny faces, the goofy dance moves that she laments how much she is going to miss our current president. It's 55 minutes after the hour.

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CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": President Bush's portrait was finally unveiled. Yes. And it's interesting. Bush's portrait seems less traditional than the portraits of previous presidents. Take a look at his. I like it but -

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CHETRY: Well, we're heading into the final days of the Bush White House and although the president isn't saying it, maybe he is thinking you are going to miss me when I'm gone. CNN's Jeanne Moos tells us that with only weeks left in office, Mr. Bush has not missed a beat.

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MOOS (voice-over): For a minute, it looked like we might be treated to another George W. Bush's boogies moment, although he never quite broke into dance, this holiday reception for kids brought out the kid in the president. The mugging, the shrugging, the tapping and nodding. The waving. The shrugging and waving, and the circular waving. And something they should consider amending the constitution to ban, when rhythmic clapping breaks out, the President should abstain. Actually, President Bush is seen relax and playful these final months. This pumping Santa using (inaudible) humor at the unveiling of his own portrait.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Welcome to my hanging.

MOOS: He's getting his kicks where he can. For instance, when he spotted a teed off football before the start of the Army-Navy game. After the coin toss, the President got to keep the coin. He even kissed his showbiz nemesis, Barbra Streisand as she was being honored at the Kennedy Center gala. The only time we've seen this two kiss was two years ago when Streisand teamed up with an impersonator.

BARBRA STREISAND, SINGER: Can you believe it for a second, we were in harmony?

MOOS: What fun is it having Mr. Cool for president, what are we going to do without W.?

MOOS (on-camera): He is not even gone yet and I miss him already. Of course, I said the same thing about Hillary Clinton when she lost to Obama, and now she is back.

AMY POEHLER, "SNL" CAST, AS HILLARY CLINTON: You thought I was gone didn't you?

You may think we are down, but like the south, vampires and Britney Spears, we will rise again.

MOOS: But the Bush administration is setting soon all will have is what Beyonce honored Babs by singing "Memories."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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ROBERTS: He does know how to cut a rug, doesn't he?

CHETRY: Yes, he sure does. And poke fun at himself as well.

ROBERTS: At marble tile in front of the portico -

CHETRY: Anything.

ROBERTS: That's going to do it for us. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here bright and early again tomorrow morning.

CHETRY: Sure will. Right now here's "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins.