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Caylee Anthony Case; Interview With White House Insiders

Aired December 18, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news in the Caylee Anthony case -- more remains found.
And a prime time exclusive -- America's first face transplant. The doctor who made it happen is here with her incredible firsthand account. She'll show us how she did it and tell us why she did it.

Medical miracle or mistake?

The gunshot victim known as the woman without a face has her own view of the controversial operation.

Plus, W.'s hits and misses -- what went right, what went wrong -- Bolten, Card, Perino and Fleischer give us the inside story.

What do they think of the next president and the people on his team?

You'll find now, on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Good evening.

News tonight in the Caylee Anthony case. Police say that the utility worker who found remains that are believed to be Caylee Anthony's called police three times in August with tips.

In addition, significant skeletal remains were also found on the site where the skull, found last week, was located.

Joining us in this first segment, in New York, is Jane Velez- Mitchell, the host of "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" on HLN.

Mark Geragos, the defense attorney. He's in Mountain View, California.

In Tampa, is Pam Bondi, the Florida prosecutor.

And in New York, Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, back after a night here in L.A. . He's the forensic expert, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a consultant for the defense in this case. Jane, what -- what happened today?

The guy reporting the wrong -- they gave him stuff, they didn't listen, what?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES," HLN: Larry, just when you thought this case couldn't get any stranger, it has taken this dramatic left turn. This is really a bombshell. The very meter reader who found the skull in the garbage bags a week ago today near the Anthony home called authorities three times -- August 11th, August 12 and August 13th, offering similar tips. And at one point, he even said there was a gray garbage bag by the side of the road. Deputies apparently checked out at least some of these tips and cleared the area.

So it raises a huge question. And it's certainly an opportunity for the defense to argue, if this turns out to be Caylee -- and she has not yet been positively identified. We're waiting on that.

Was the body moved?

Why wasn't the body there at that time?

Was there evidence tampering?

And it raises a slew of questions.

And you have to ask, Larry, how did he know?

How did he know?

KING: Here's what the Orange County sheriff's captain, Angelo Nieves, said at a press conference today.



CAPT. ANGELO NIEVES, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: The tip that we received on August 13th was the same individual that reported the findings on December 11th. It was the same individual that called in to the communications center and called us this past Thursday that made the discovery. We had three tips from that individual. We are trying to determine the circumstances and the toughness of the detective -- or the deputy that responded that day. And we'll continue to do so in the coming days.


KING: Mark, somebody had to goof, right?

MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know. I mean there's a -- you could come up with -- I don't -- I can't tell you how many different explanations or speculations as to what potentially this could be. Yes, somebody had to goof. And I don't know if it was necessarily the police.

KING: Who else?

GERAGOS: Well, you know, when you have somebody who's calling in tips and claiming that something is there and the police went out there -- and it's somebody who is repeatedly doing it, a serial tipster -- it would not be the first time in American jurisprudence...

KING: Yes.

GERAGOS: ...history that you've got somebody that may be more involved than what they first let on.

KING: Got you.

Pam, do you count it odd that, in this case, the tipster in August appeared to be right in December?

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Oh, Larry, it's crazy. It's extremely odd. And what Mark said, that's exactly what the defense is going to attack.

What the prosecution is going to contend is that this guy was very credible. He called it in several times. The area was flooded. Therefore, they couldn't search the area. And if you remember, one of Casey's own friends had also called in and said, hey, we used to hang out there when -- when we were kids. She could have put the body there. But they weren't able to search that area. And this guy, being a concerned citizen, went out and started looking on his own and, sure enough, found the body.

GERAGOS: Well, you know what's so bizarre about the whole thing is that if the prosecutor takes that position, they, in essence, have to be saying the police screwed up...

KING: Yes.

GERAGOS: And the police couldn't find it and everything else. I mean, it's a -- it's a very tough position.

BONDI: Or the area was flooded. Or, Mark, the area was really underwater. And there are water moccasins, there are snakes, there are...


BONDI: was a dangerous search at that time.

GERAGOS: It's -- exactly.

KING: All right, doctor...


KING: Doctor Kobilinsky, what's your read?

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSICS EXPERT, ON DEFENSE TEAM: Well, first of all, I think that the defense, as well as the prosecution, needs to develop a time line on when that area was flooded and when it was dry. I mean, what the defense is thinking about is when was that body put at that site?

Could it have been at a later date?

So we really need to know when this bag was immersed and when it was not immersed. And looking at the kind of decomposition, it's very dependent upon environmental conditions -- water or no water.

So all of this will come together and make sense when we have all the facts.

KING: Forgive me...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, Larry, how did he know?

KOBILINSKY: I'm sorry?

KING: Yes.

How did he know?


KING: Jane, forgive me...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Either he's psychic or he had some inside information, which police say he didn't.

So how did he know to look there?

KOBILINSKY: That's a very good question. And maybe he's a -- he got -- has some hunches. It's very interesting. He saw a gray plastic bag initially and got very suspicious. Maybe it was the proximity to the Anthony home. I don't know. I don't know what the reason is.

BONDI: Yes, but...


BONDI: I've been out there. It is so close to the Anthony home you would not believe. I mean, it's a wooded area right around the corner from the home. And he worked in the area.


BONDI: So maybe he saw a car matching the description. We just don't know.

GERAGOS: I don't know. I don't understand. If he could see the bag, how come the police couldn't see the bag?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a different bag. One was a gray bag...

GERAGOS: Well, how do...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the reports are that the bag that he found last week was a black bag so.

GERAGOS: Right, but he's at least reporting initially that he sees a gray bag. And if it's one and the same or in the same area, how strange is that, that he can see it and then he goes back again and it's there?

I mean that -- a lot of these things make absolutely no sense.

KING: Well, hopefully, we will take a break from this for Christmas and come back with more.

Thanks to all of you being -- you'll be with us a lot.

Next, the woman who performed the first ever U.S. face transplant is here.

Stay with us.


KING: A historic day in American medicine -- a face transplant took place at the famed Cleveland Clinic.

And joining us from Cleveland is Dr. Maria Siemionow. She's head of plastic surgery right here at that clinic. She headed the surgical team that successfully performed America's first face transplant.

And in Atlanta, Georgia, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, practicing neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurosurgery.

Dr. Gupta, before we talk to Dr. Siemionow, how do you regard this middle class?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, you look for those great watershed moments in medical history. And Dr. Siemionow and I spoke a couple of years ago. At that point, she was waiting to find that perfect patient to do this transplant on. And I know it's been a lot of preparation. But to the extent that this might be a forerunner of more great advancements in this type of surgery, it's a very exciting day.

KING: Dr. Siemionow, what caused the patient to need a new face?

DR. MARIA SIEMIONOW, HEADED FACE TRANSPLANT TEAM: Well, the patient has a severe deformity of the face after trauma and was missing a nose and missing cheekbones and a large part of the skin and the front of the face, upper lip, lower eyelids. So there was a large part of the skin and bone components which were missing. And practically the patient was missing the front of the face.

KING: Did you have to find the perfect donor?

SIEMIONOW: No. That's not what were looking for. We were looking for a possibility of reconstructing this patient's face in a way that it would replace the missing components and that we would be able, also, to give back this patient's function, which is probably the most important idea behind this procedure.

KING: So what was the transplant?

SIEMIONOW: Well, the transplant was the transfer of the transplanted face, which included the large amount -- about 80 percent of the entire face of the patient. And it included skin components, bone components, the entire nose, cheekbones, a palette and upper lip and also included the eyelids -- the lower eyelids.

KING: From another doctor's standpoint, Dr. Gupta -- and I know that you're not a plastic surgeon, but a brain surgeon -- what was the most amazing thing about this to you?

GUPTA: The face is one of the most complicated areas of the body. I mean, it's responsible for your facial expression, your ability to eat, your ability to breathe, your ability to speak, obviously. Being able to take all those really, really functional areas that are made up of so many nerves, so many blood vessels -- not to mention the cosmetic aspects of it -- and making it all come together and work in some sort of functional form is pretty remarkable.

I mean, the idea that you could take a -- do a transplant in any way, shape or form, I thought, was pretty remarkable the first time I heard about this. But to completely transform someone in this way is -- you know, there's a reason that it's taken so long to get here, Larry.

KING: Doctor, has the patient seen her new face?

SIEMIONOW: No, the patient has not seen her face, but she touched her face. And she was very happy. She, for the first time a few days ago, just went with her fingers over her face. She felt that she has a nose. She was feeling her lip. And she was very happy.

KING: How long did it take?

SIEMIONOW: To -- for her to see the face?

KING: No, to do the surgery?

SIEMIONOW: Oh, to do the surgery. It takes -- for us, it took 22 hours -- 22 hours of many team members of different subspecialties working together, from one afternoon one day into the late afternoon the second day.

But it really started Monday before we start the surgery on Tuesday, the next day. It was the Monday evening when I received the phone call, which was kind of interesting. I got the beeper and my cell phone rang at the same time. And I had this feeling that probably it's something going on, it's different than normally. You get either cell phone call or you get the beeper running.

And I had the feeling that there may be a transplant. And, actually, I kind of hesitated to answer.

KING: Wow!

SIEMIONOW: And it was the announcement that we may have actually a transplant coming up. And just to go through the sequence, at that night, until the morning of the next day, I count -- we have about 50 telephone conversations, very short, just checking if everybody is in town... KING: Wow!

SIEMIONOW: ...if we have all what we need, if instruments...

KING: Let me...

SIEMIONOW: ...are in the operating room and so on. And, you know, that was a very, very emotional moment.

KING: Let me get a break and come right back.

The doctor wrote an exclusive commentary for us on our blog.

If you want to read it, go to

More with her and some questions from Dr. Gupta for her, when we come back.


KING: An amazing story.

"These past couple of weeks have been overwhelming for me and my family."

That's a statement from the patient's sister.

Going on: "We never thought for a moment that our sister would ever have a chance for a normal life again, after the tragedy she endured. But thanks to the wonderful person that donated her organs to help another living human being, she has another chance to live a normal life. And our family cannot thank you enough. There are tears of joy and tears of pain that it took one to pass on to give the other this life. It saddens us for your loss."

That's always the sad part of any transplant, but this one exceptional.

Dr. Gupta, anything you want to ask or say to Dr. Siemionow?

GUPTA: You know, we -- we spoke a couple of years ago and one thing that's sort of striking is that you, in a way, Larry asked if you found the perfect donor. But it strikes me that you found the perfect recipient -- someone who's a good candidate for this operation.

Four years, though, it took, Dr. Siemionow.

I mean, is that how rare this type of procedure will be?

SIEMIONOW: Yes. Well, you know, we discussed it very extensively, that you want to be sure that in our approach we were looking only at potential candidates who would be a patient who had already exhausted all conventional means of reconstruction. And I think it's very important, because you would like to be sure that the patient is not undergoing such a serious procedure without being helped in conventional means before.

However, it is very difficult to reconstruct certain parts of the face, including, for example, lips or including eyelids. And even reconstruction of the entire nose is difficult.

There are plastic surgeons who are doing wonderful reconstructive procedures, but they are also done in several attempts. So this takes time and patients suffering and the results not always are presentable.

KING: Yes.

Dr. Siemionow, we salute you and I thank you very much for giving us a little time here.

Dr. Gupta, thank you.

And congratulations.

SIEMIONOW: Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

Dr. Gupta remain with us. Next, she was called the woman without a face. We're delighted to have her back here.

The incredible Caroline Thomas -- what does she think of this transplant news?

Right after the break.


KING: Caroline Thomas returns. Her story -- in 2003, Caroline's long time boyfriend shot and killed her mother. And then he turned the gun on Caroline and shot her in the face. That single gunshot destroyed her face and changed her life forever.

She joins us now from Dallas, Texas.

And Dr. Sanjay Gupta remains.

How are you doing?


Thank you, Larry.

KING: The first time you were with us, you had to cover the face and now you look great.

THOMAS: Yes. Yes, I did have a cover.

KING: Are you working?

What are you doing? THOMAS: I'm still doing my speaking engagements, going all over, speaking about domestic violence and, as well, working on my foundation, as well.

KING: All right.

What do you make of this story?

THOMAS: I think it's -- I think that it's awesome. If you can get the face transplant, I think that's great, that, you know, people donate their time and that everything is working out for her.

I think with me, it was that -- that I was missing a lot of bone. And I don't think it would have been an option for me.

But I think it's wonderful. I mean, that's -- that's great.

KING: How many operations did you have?

THOMAS: I had 13 surgeries altogether. And then seven of them were major surgeries.

KING: If it were an option, if your face were badly damaged, would you have taken it?

THOMAS: Yes. Yes. If it was an option, yes, I would have.

KING: All right, Dr. Gupta, what do you make of the strength of these people?

GUPTA: Well, you know, as part of the sort of evaluation of patients like this, in addition to the physical profile, you really do have to evaluate the psychological profile for the reasons you're asking. I mean, people do have to be resilient.

But, you know, keep in mind -- and it gets a little bit on the slippery slope here -- maybe not so much in the cases we're talking about today. But this is a serious operation. It is a risky operation. A person is going to be on a lifetime of medications -- of strong medications.

And some will say, well, look, this is all for a cosmetic procedure. But in, you know, the patient that Dr. Siemionow was just talking about, in Caroline's case, as well, it's -- it's just so much more than that.

They needed the operation to be able to breathe right, to eat right, to be able to speak.

So how do you draw the line?

Who's going to be a good candidate for this operation in the future, I think, is going to be a -- an important question to answer.

KING: This will not be an everyday occurrence, will it?

GUPTA: No. You know, and four years -- that's one point I was making with Dr. Siemionow.

KING: Yes.

GUPTA: They were waiting for four years to find the perfect recipient. When I talked to her she said, look, we have a lot of people coming off the battle fields of Iraq that may be candidates for this operation. Now that they've proven they can do it, you might see increasing numbers.

But it is going to be rare. And, Larry, it also costs about $200,000 in an era that we, you know, talk about the economy, talk about the under and uninsured. This is an expensive operation. So that's another factor to consider here.

KING: Caroline, do you get -- still get increased medical attention?

THOMAS: Yes, I do. I just recently got my new prosthetic eye and will be receiving a new nose prosthesis. And I recently talked to Dr. Alfred. I'm not sure if you're aware, Larry, but he broke his back sometime last year. And so...

KING: No, I didn't know.

THOMAS: And so, yes. So maybe there will be some touchups in the future, you know, once I go back and visit him.

KING: Why do you need a prosthesis for the nose?

It looks fine from here.

THOMAS: Well, because I don't have a nose. This is a nose prosthesis.

KING: That's not a nose?

THOMAS: No, it's not. It's a prosthetic nose.

KING: Do you breathe through it OK?

THOMAS: Yes, I do. I breathe very well through it.

KING: Boy. What -- I know, Dr. Gupta, it's not your game, but some of the wonders in plastic surgery are unbelievable, aren't they?

GUPTA: You're looking at it. It is pretty remarkable, just how -- how good these prostheses can be; how functional they can be, as well; how well they match with the rest of the face.

That is a very good-looking prosthesis, Caroline. You know, the advancements, short of facial transplantation, which obviously is the point of the show tonight -- but all the other advancements have been pretty remarkable, as well.

And, again, we've seen a lot of it come about as a result of the war in Iraq and the severe disfigurements that we've seen coming back from that place.

KING: Do you -- Caroline, do you see any ethical questions here, because technically, I guess, someone would say, well, you can be ugly, but you don't need a normal face to survive?

THOMAS: I think that, you know, if something has happened to someone and they need facial reconstruction or they're going to do the transplant, I think it's important because everybody wants to look good and everybody wants to be comfortable when they go out in a crowd. So if that's going to -- you know, if people are doing cosmetic surgery to make themselves more beautiful, why not do it for someone that is really going to benefit and they're going to feel good about themselves when they go out in a crowd or wherever it is that they go?

KING: Do you have any...

THOMAS: I mean I know I've...

KING: Yes...

THOMAS: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

KING: Yes.

Dr. Gupta, do you have a problem with it?

GUPTA: Well, it is a very fine line. I think that most of these facial transplant surgeons or people in that field will say this is not a cosmetic procedure. They will classify this is a life-saving or life greatly improving procedure. And I think that that's an important distinction. People have difficulty breathing, people have difficulty speaking, people have difficulty eating, being able to sustain their body processes.

This is an important operation. And that's why it's OK, in, at least, their minds, to take this risk -- to do this risky procedure and subject a patient to a lifetime of medications that are sometimes powerful medications.

So this isn't just about improving appearance as much as it is about saving or greatly improving someone's quality of life.

KING: By the way, Caroline has a foundation that helps women who have been the victims of domestic violence. She's doing so much good. She speaks all over the country. Voice4All. That's Voice -- the numeral 4 -- all. The Caroline Thomas Foundation, www.caroline-

Thank you, Caroline.

Continued good wishes.

And, Dr. Gupta, thank you, as always.

GUPTA: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thank you for joining us, as always.

THOMAS: Thank you so much, Larry.

GUPTA: OK. Thanks.

KING: Thank you.

Next, they know President George W. Bush. They worked for him. Four White House insiders are here. You're going to enjoy this, right after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, economists say that the nation is at increasing risk of recession.

What do you say?

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say that the fundamentals of our nation's economy are strong.

The financial markets are strong and solid.

Our economy, obviously, is going through a tough time.

I think the system basically is sound. I truly do.

The United States is serious about restoring confidence.

We have witnessed a startling drop in the stock market.

Today's job data reflects the fact that our economy is in a recession.



KING: Distinguished folk all, two former members, two current members of the White House staff; in Washington, Josh Bolten, the White House chief of staff. Also in Washington, Andy Card, the former White House chief of staff. And Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, is with us. And the former White House press secretary in Stamford, Connecticut, is Ari Fleischer. Dana, what's President Bush's mood these days?

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, he's always a joyous person. We're obviously very busy because of the economy. And the president's been doing a lot of speeches lately. So we are keeping him very busy. Just this past weekend, he went to Iraq and Afghanistan and came right back. As he got off the chopper, he walked into a Hanukkah party. So it's always a busy season during the holidays.

KING: Were you there when the shoe got thrown? PERINO: Yes, sir. I was an innocent buy stander on the side. I got hit in the eye with a boom mike that got slung around. I got to see the whole thing. I was fine at the time. It was just an accident.

KING: What, Josh Bolten -- before we get to the formers, what is the toughest part of being chief of staff?

JOSH BOLTEN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The toughest part is just keeping on top of everything that's going on. There's always so much happening at the White House. And each of us feels a responsibility to make sure it goes as well as it can, and sometime it's just -- as chief of staff, there is just too much going on to keep as well on top of it as you should.

KING: When someone is going to leave office, Josh, is it hard, frankly, to stay focused? You know that 33 days, you're going to be gone. It's going to be someone else's problem. Is it difficult?

BOLTEN: Well, Larry, it's 32 days, 14 hours and 28 minutes. And the answer in this White House is no. We've had so much going on. The president said a long time ago -- he said more than a year ago that he was planning to sprint to the finish. And I think that we would have done under any circumstances. But we're facing such challenges over seas and especially now domestically with the economy that it's hard not to stay focused.

KING: Andy, was he -- how would you -- was he difficult to work for? How would you describe him?

ANDY CARD, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: President Bush is easy to work with because he is so disciplined in his life. He was always prompt, always polite, always respectful. He was inquisitive. He was quite demanding in terms of making sure that he had all of the information before he had to make tough decisions. And the president doesn't have the luxury of making an easy decision. So every decision is tough. But really, he's very easy to work for because he has so much personal discipline in his life.

KING: How did he handle the criticism?

CARD: He doesn't worry about it. He understands that criticism comes with the job. He is confident that he makes tough decisions. And he knows that tough decisions frequently invite controversy. But he's not worried about current events. He's not worried about the immediate reaction to a decision. He's doing what is right for the country. He really is very comfortable making those tough decisions.

And I can tell you, he's a quiet, confident man. He is optimistic. He never comes into the office thinking he's going to make a bad decision. He always thinks he's going to make a good decision. He knows it will be a difficult decision. And he has expectations of the decisions will be implemented right. And that is an optimist. He comes in, the glass is half full. It's not half empty.

KING: Ari, is there any danger in that kind of thinking?

ARI FLEISCHER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, you know, I think the job of the staff is to temper. Andy is right, he is an optimist. He looks at the glass half full. And the job of the staff -- and it happened all the time when I was there -- is to tell him here is the full set of facts and circumstances you need to consider, the good, the bad and the ugly.

One of the things I always liked about him, Larry, that I think most people don't think can possibly be true, but it is, is it is always easy to tell him when I think he did something wrong. For a staffer, that is the psychic income of working for a president, when you get to give him advice. And I did that on several occasions. And he always wanted to hear it. Sometimes he would listen, sometimes he wouldn't. But that's the staff's job. He is a very upbeat, optimistic person. And if ever to a fault, sometimes he would delegate a little too much faith in people who didn't actually turn out to be working for him or doing what he wanted them to do. And I think that led to some problems.

KING: Dana, is he -- do you find you can tell him when you disagree?

PERINO: Oh, sure. We have a close enough relationship that we can have very frank discussions. And he certainly isn't afraid to tell me things either. But we always learn from one another. I think the president is one of these best politicians of his generation, certainly one of the best retail politicians. When you can see him with all the people he comes into contact with, it's been one of my great joys is to watch the president, not in necessarily in those big decision moments, although that's obviously very rewarding, but to see him with people such as the cooks that we met at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, when the president went for lunch, and how he can reach out and touch them and really make their day and make them smile. I'll never forget moments like that.

KING: When we come back, I'll ask Josh Bolten how he dealt with the defeat of John McCain. Josh Bolten, Andy Card, Dana Perino and Ari Fleischer are all with us tonight. Don't go away.


KING: Josh Bolten, how did the president handle the McCain defeat?

BOLTEN: He handled it well. He was naturally disappointed, because Senator Obama wasn't his first choice for president; Senator McCain was. That was you true for all of us at the White House. I think the president was really moved at how excited all of the Obama supporters were, how many people who never expected that they would see an African-American president in their lifetimes, how much that meant to them. And just a general satisfaction that there was a historic moment happening in the United States.

I was with him early the next morning, when he was preparing to go out into the Rose Garden and make a statement about the election. And he got his usual cards prepared by the speech writers that he had given some ideas and generally reflected his sentiment. But after he thought about it for a bit, he went over to his desk and just started writing in a whole new paragraph or two into the statement. And I think if you go back and look at that statement, how gracious it was, the really gracious words came from the president himself.

KING: All right. Andy Card, let's move now to the economy, specify the automobile industry, an industry you were in. You worked for General Motors, if I'm correct.

CARD: I did for about 13 months. I delivered newspapers longer than I worked for General Motors. But, yes.

KING: You got famous for General Motors. Who is to blame here? Doesn't the president play part of the blame in all of this? I mean do we all share in this blame?

CARD: I actually think the seeds of the problem were sown by the Fannies and Freddies of the world that helped create products that were available in the marketplace that didn't state the real risk of investors. But I also feel that the automobile industry in particular, the domestic industry, did not make enough changes to meet the challenges of a competitive world. And that's why I think right now it's important that GM, Ford and Chrysler put a lot of skin in the game, management, labor, dealers, suppliers. They have to demonstrate the real change they're willing to make in order to be successful. I do think there is going to be a need for a bridge loan, if you will, from the past to the future. And I think that President Bush is right to consider doing that.

KING: Dana, should the president, frankly, have been more on top of it?

PERINO: Look, I think that Andy is absolutely right. The problems that we're dealing with in our economy right now go back decades. But -- and there's many different things. I think the housing issue is one of them. But I also think that we have to work harder to be a more competitive country. And I think that these companies got into a little bit of trouble.

Look, the president's instincts are not to help individual companies. He is somebody who believes in the free market. But what he said when his advisers told him that if we did not act, we could conceivably face something even worse than the Great Depression -- as he said, I have a responsibility to act. And if we can do something, if the government can do something to help prevent this from spreading and hurting every single person in America, then that's his obligation. That's what he's working through right now.

KING: Is he going to do it? Is he going to do something?

PERINO: I think that you'll hear from him soon. But we said that a disorderly bankruptcy of these companies is just not acceptable. It would be such a severe body blow to our economy right now that we just could not sustain it. So you'll hear from the president soon on it. KING: Ari, what do you think he's going to do?

FLEISCHER: I think he is trying to thread that needle to find a way that the auto companies do basically what Andy is talking, but he eases the transition to get there, so we don't have hundreds of thousands hit the street unemployed. I'll tell you, Larry, I fear the day when these things really are attributable to the government.

You know, the fact that made America great is the private sector is and should be bigger than the government. You know, was Bill Clinton to blame for the Dot-Com bust? Was Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan to blame for the steel industry's decline in the late '70s, early '80s? Industry, business, has to be adaptable. It has to be nimble. It has to be better and smarter than the government. If these things are the fault of whoever is the president, then America's economy is backwards because the government has too much control. Business and labor have to get together and figure out how to thrive. The government plays a moderate role. But if it's the preeminent role, America is on the wrong track.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Bolten, Card, Perino and Fleischer. When we come back, we'll talk about Iraq. Stay with us.



BUSH: The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop Anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm absolutely sure there are weapons of mass destruction there.

BUSH: We cannot wait for the final proof.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

BUSH: My fellow citizens, at this hour American coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq and free its people and defend the world from great danger.


KING: We're back with the panel. The president's been criticized for failure to listen to others on Iraq. In an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley, he had this to say. Watch.


BUSH: There are urban myths in Washington, D.C. And, you know, of course I listen to -- I listened to a lot of people before we went into Iraq. And I listened to a lot of people, including in my own administration, who said it's just not working. Let's get out. And I listened very carefully to them and obviously came to a different conclusion.


KING: Josh, do you hold the same conclusions you held about Iraq?

BOLTEN: I do. You know, the president was following the advice that he got. He was following the intelligence that not only we believed, but everybody who looked at the intelligence believed when we originally went into Iraq in 2003. And by 2005, 2006, things were not working well. And the president did get a lot of advice that said let's cut our losses and get out, whatever the cost to the United States in terms of our prestige, our influence and the overall safety of the region and America. And the president stepped up and made a very courageous decision at the time, against a lot of the internal advice, and said, no, we're really going to have to double down here. We have an opportunity to win this conflict. But we're going to need to put more troops in. We're going to need to actually protect Iraqi citizens in a way that has not been our mission before.

And the last year and a half have shown that that strategy has worked. The Iraq that Dana and I saw this past weekend with the president was a very different place. It's a place that is on the way to being a safe, stable democracy, friend of the United States, an ally in the war on terror. And I don't think anybody can understate what an important development and accomplishment that is.

KING: And we'll be back with more right after this.


KING: Andy, Dick Cheney has been a, needless to say, controversial vice president. CNN reports that he recently advised the incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who I spoke to today, by the way, "the best thing you can do is keep your vice president under control." How well did you do with that, Andy?

CARD: The vice president was a great source of strength for me, because he had empathy with me. He had been a great chief of staff. Josh Bolten did a great job of inviting the former chiefs of staff to his office to have breakfast. Since the vice president of the United States used to be a chief of staff to a president, he was there. He did offer some wise counsel to Rahm Emanuel. We all sat around the table. It was a wonderful gathering. I thank Josh for including me. But it was a great session.

Yes, there is a unique responsibility that comes with being chief of staff. You know, the institution of the White House is the only bureaucracy in Washington that is not designed by Congress. It's there to serve the president. And we all talked about the unique challenges that come with being a chief of staff. And the vice president did offer some wise counsel to Rahm Emanuel.

KING: What makes, Dana, a successful vice president? PERINO: Well, I think one of the things that this vice president has done is stuck to what he always said he would do, which is provide confidential advice to the president of the United States. One of the things I've always appreciated is that the senior staff of the White House allowed the press secretary to have a seat at the table, so that the press secretary gets to understand the decision making process. And that provides a better foundation from which to answer questions. The vice president has never been one to stifle debate.

KING: Never?

PERINO: Never in my experience, no.

KING: Ari, were you kept in?

FLEISCHER: Larry, the best thing for me, President Bush put me where he wanted me to be for all the right meetings and all the important ones, particularly all the foreign summit meetings. When foreign leaders would come to the White House, I would sit in on the meetings in the Oval Office. Similarly, when the president would travel abroad, I would sit in on those meetings. My advice to my successor is that is an essential part of doing your job.

The relationship has to be direct with the president. Everybody else is vital, also important, but no one is more vital and important than the president. You can't speak for him if you don't listen to him. And you have to be in the right meetings to listen.

KING: And does he have to always be honest with you?

FLEISCHER: Absolutely. Part of the job of being press secretary is you've got to have a good enough antenna to figure out if there's ever anybody on the inside that's telling you something that you should not pass along publicly, because it might not be right. It might be their point of view. It might not be the president's point of view. It's one of the reasons it can be a hard job to be the press secretary. And you've got to figure out the inter-dynamics of the White House if are going to survive standing at that podium.

KING: We'll be back with Josh Bolten, Andy Card, Dana Perino, Ari Fleischer. And when we come, Jim Carrey and I come clean, literally. That's next.


KING: Josh Bolten, what went wrong in Katrina?

BOLTEN: You know, there's a lot of different things that went wrong. Most of them, in my judgment, at the local level, which is where the real responsibility is for responding. But one of the lessons that all of us have taken away from that experience is that it's very hard for localities to be prepared for catastrophic disasters like Katrina, which was a once in a hundred year event. And the good news is that in the years since then, in the three years since then, we have really dramatically enhanced the federal government's ability to step in and help when a disaster strikes, number one, and more importantly, the federal government's ability and expertise in ensuring that the localities are well prepared to handle the emergencies that only they can handle at their level.

KING: Andy, do you miss the job?

CARD: I miss the information that I had. And I miss the people that I worked with. The president attracts the best and the brightest, and that should be the case for every president. But I really miss the information. I didn't realize that I would miss the information the way I do. It's a luxury to work at the White House. It's a great privilege. I'll tell you, it's a blessing that we live in this country and we have a president who is elected and can attract people like Josh Bolten to help him and others. I'll tell you, the best of the best help the president make very tough decisions. And, yes, I miss it.

KING: Toughest part, Dana?

PERINO: Well, I think it's advice that Ari gave me when I first took over, which is not to take it personally in the briefing room. And I've learned not to take it personally about me. But I care deeply about this president. And I believe in the good works that he's done and in his leadership. And so, sometimes, I took it personally on his behalf, especially during the campaign, when the president rightly advised us not to rise to the bait and not to defend him. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

KING: Ari, do you, frankly, miss it?

FLEISCHER: No, I don't. I miss the president. I miss my friends and co-workers. I had a dinner in Washington last week where I reunited almost everybody who worked for me. It was a wonderful get together, reunion. But that's a demanding place, a demanding job. Especially dealing with the press corps; it's a wonderful intellectually stimulating, pressure-filled, hard thing to do every day.

Now, I've got two little children. I'm just in a different place, a different time, a wonderful wife. I get to see her all the time. It's hard to see your family when you're at the White House. So there's just another side of life when you leave. And my friends Josh and Dana are about to find out how good it can be on the other side, too.

KING: Josh Bolten, Andy Card, Dana Perino and Ari Fleischer, thank you so much. Thank you guys.

Last night, Jim Carrey and I had some fun on David Letterman. It was wet, a little wild. Take a look.



JIM CARREY, ACTOR: The question, aren't you Jim Carrey, the funniest, sexiest, most talented man in all of Hollywood? And may I pleasure you?

LETTERMAN: The category, number one thing Jim Carrey will always say yes to, here it is, number one.

CARREY: Tub time with Larry King.


KING: Show business. Go to for a bunch of great web features, blogs, downloads, ring tone, podcasts, guest commentaries and read what I have to say about that bath tub. See you tomorrow. Anderson Cooper is next. Don't go away.