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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
11-Year-Old Faces Adult Murder Charges; Arkansas State House Votes to Allow Carrying Handguns in Churches
Aired February 22, 2009 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is February 22nd. Good morning, everybody. It's 8:00 a.m. at CNN headquarters right here in Atlanta; 7:00 a.m. in the heartland.
Hello. I'm Betty Nguyen.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes. Glad you could be here with us this morning.
We got a heartbreaking story to bring to you, though, this morning, and it's one that is one of the most popular on our Web site, CNN.com, this morning. An 11-year-old boy accused of killing a pregnant woman. The woman's body was found by her four-year-old daughter. Ambulances then rushed to the scene.
Well, the 11-year-old now is facing adult charges. And also, a twist to this story. We'll have full details straight ahead.
NGUYEN: And if you're heading to church this morning, the person sitting next to you could be packing and praying. We're going to take a look at who is pushing for guns on the holy ground.
HOLMES: Also, after having a job, like commander-in-chief, living in a place like the White House, what do you do?
HOLMES: Maybe you get a new job. We will tell you about President Bush, the former president's new job offer.
NGUYEN: It's pretty interesting.
In the meantime, though, can "Slumdog Millionaire" continue its winning streak at the Oscars tonight? We'll delve into that.
First, President Obama is setting a bold goal for his administration. He wants to take on the national deficit and he is unveiling his budget this coming week. The president wants to cut the federal deficit by half over the next four years, and to do this, he plans to raise taxes on businesses and on people making more than $250,000 a year. He also plans to reduce spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And President Obama is holding a fiscal responsibility summit tomorrow. So, let's get details on that. CNN deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser --one of the friends of our show here on Saturday and Sunday mornings, he is joining us from Washington.
Paul, what does the president expect to come out of this summit?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Betty, you were just talking about President Obama is trying to cut the budget in half this massive budget deficit. Well, that's what this summit is about, because another way to do that, the president says, is to streamline the federal government. This is a massive federal government, of course.
And so, tomorrow, at the White House, he holds his fiscal responsibility summit with top experts in and out of government, and the whole idea here is basically -- in business terms -- to make the federal government more cost-effective and that's what he hopes to get out of this. Now, of course, this summit is just the first step in what is going to be a very, very busy week when it comes to the economy for President Obama but don't take my word. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: That work begins on Monday. When I will convene a fiscal summit of independent experts and unions, advocacy groups and members of Congress, to discuss how we can cut the trillion dollar deficit that we've inherited. On Tuesday, I will speak to the nation about our urgent national priorities. And on Thursday, I'll release a budget that's sober in its assessments, honest in its accounting, and lays out in detail my strategy for investing in what we need, cutting what we don't, and restoring fiscal discipline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: And the White House right now, they predicted that the budget deficit for next year, for the next year will be $1.3 trillion. So, cutting it in half over four years, Betty, is definitely going to be a challenge, and it is a big one.
NGUYEN: Oh, yes. No doubt.
In the meantime, though, the president is having some folks over for dinner tonight. Who is on the guest list?
STEINHAUSER: Yes, the nation's governors are on that guest list. They are here in town for their annual summit, and they're talking about the stimulus package and debating the stimulus package as well. But tonight, they're going to put politics aside and they are going to be entertained by Earth, Wind and Fire, the nation's governors at the White House for this black tie affair. They'll be back at the White House again tomorrow, Betty, to talk more about the economy and about the stimulus package.
NGUYEN: Yes, some serious business but a little bit of entertaining as well. Not too bad for a dinner at the White House. All right. Thank you, Paul.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you.
NGUYEN: And just a reminder, President Obama talks about our economic troubles in an address before a joint session of Congress tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern, we're going to bring that to you live. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" follows the president's speech with the best political team on television. A special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" follows that at midnight Eastern.
We also want to know this from you. If you could address Congress, what would you say? What kind of beef do you have? That's our e-mail question this morning.
Let us know what you'd like to say to Congress. E-mail us at email@example.com. You can also go to our Facebook pages and put your questions there as well.
HOLMES: Well, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heading home from China after wrapping her first overseas trip as the America's top diplomat. Clinton went to church today in Beijing today before heading back to Washington. During talks with Chinese officials, she said China and Washington must work together to get through the global financial crisis. She also urged Beijing to keep investing in U.S. treasury bonds, saying the financial future of the two countries are tied together.
NGUYEN: Well, an unthinkable crime is made even more shocking by the suspect's identity. Listen to this story.
An 11-year-old Pennsylvania boy is charged as an adult with murder. Police say he shot and killed his dad's girlfriend who was eight months pregnant. Now, a community is struggling to understand why. Marc Willis filed this work from affiliate WPXI before police named the suspect.
MARC WILLIS, WPXI REPORTER (voice-over): With lights off and sirens silent, a caravan of emergency vehicles leave the scene of a homicide in Lawrence County -- as family members tried to comfort one another and come to grips with their loss.
JACK HOUK, VICTIM'S FATHER: I wouldn't know anybody in the whole world would want to kill a 26-year-old beautiful daughter like mine and take a child. I don't know who would be crazy enough or nutty enough to go and want to do something like that has got to be sick.
WILLIS: Friday morning around 10:00, police were called to the 1100 block of Wampum New Galilee Road in New Beaver Borough, Lawrence County. Inside, they found 26-year-old Kenzie Houk in a bedroom, dead from a gunshot wound. A mother of two, Kenzie was pregnant with her third child. In fact, Houk's four-year-old daughter was the one who alerted a man in the area trimming trees that something was wrong with her mother. STEVE CABLE, CALLED POLICE: We had a little girl that come to the door and told us that her mommy had passed away and we're trying to -- I called 911.
WILLIS: It's been a difficult day for friends and family members who know and loved Kenzie.
HOUK: And the thing that hurts me the worse that I can't remember the last time I really told her I loved her and that will hurt me the rest of my life.
WILLIS: Who, in two weeks, was expected to bring a new life into the world.
(on camera): Kenzie Houk's other two children are staying with their grandparents. The coroner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
Reporting from Wampum, Lawrence Country -- Marc Willis, Channel 11 News.
NGUYEN: Well, police have not given a motive in this case but the boy is charged with criminal homicide and homicide of an unborn child. He is now in county jail. Investigators say he used a used model shotgun in the shooting.
HOLMES: All right. We turn back to the economy. And, usually, when you hear that, you're expecting to hear some bad news.
HOLMES: But some -- more encouraging stuff here, especially for those looking for a job out there. When we come back, we'll show you a place that actually has thousands of openings.
NGUYEN: That is good to hear.
Also, former President Bush got a job offer. Yes, indeed, he did. But he probably never expected this one. We'll have the nuts and bolts of that story coming up.
HOLMES: Also, I don't know how up you are on some of your trivia, but here are a few tidbits for you, maybe you didn't know about. Shortest ceremony -- in 1929 last 15 minutes!
NGUYEN: That's it?
HOLMES: The longest -- '02, four hours and 18 minutes. I wonder what the ratings were on that one. We'll be looking at some trivia throughout the morning, and a brief walk down memory lane with a look at the most recent best picture winners.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is so great that you're here. We got a great forecast around a good part of the country especially the center of the U.S. Top to bottom from the U.S.-Canadian border, clear down to the Gulf coast, it's just going to be just fantastic.
However, on the other end of the country, in parts of the northeast and parts of the west, it could get kind of rough especially in portions of the northeast -- scattered showers, some snowstorms possible. Right now, though, a shot of the Statue of Liberty -- it looks OK. Take a look. Here is a live image. You got gray skies, 39 degrees currently at the base of the statue, and expecting highs to climb into the 40s.
As we go back to the weather computer, we're going to show you the potential of some fairly heavy snow at the highest elevations and some places could see around 10 inches of snowfall, coupling that with winds of anywhere from 15 to 30 miles an hour. And we're going to breeze our way back out to the west where we're going to be seeing there some heavy rain along the coast from San Francisco northward to about Redding, there could be a chance of some flash flooding along the coast.
But in the higher elevations at the Sierra Nevada, we're looking in snow from anywhere from two to maybe even as much as four feet of snow above 7,000 feet. And also, wind gusts are going to be quite strong, 70 or 50 miles per hour.
In terms of your high temperatures, on the west coast, we're going to start on the west and make our way to the east. From Seattle to Portland to San Francisco, mainly low to mid to upper 50s; and 70s in L.A.; 59 in Denver; 43 in Kansas City; 62 in Dallas; 64 in Houston; 47 in Atlanta; and New York, the high today, 40; Boston, 42; Miami and Tampa, mainly into the low to mid to upper 70s.
That is a look at your forecast. I'm meteorologist Reynolds Wolf. You're watching CNN SUNDAY MORNING. See you in a few.
HOLMES: Well, who sank my battleship?
NGUYEN: Or your yacht?
HOLMES: Yes, or your yacht. It turns out he did -- at least what police are saying. A Seattle man, that beautiful boat you see there, that yacht -- well, it's not in so good of shape after police say Brian Lewis sunk it himself, that he drilled a hole in it. They also found that parts of the engine had been beaten with a hammer.
Why would somebody do this? Well, according to police, he got upset of having to maintain the thing and it was a little expensive, and now, he's being charged with insurance fraud. He had just put the boat up for sale not too long ago, and it was going for about $30,000. But now, he is under arrest. He has not boat. He has no insurance money and he might lose his freedom. NGUYEN: Yes, that's kind of interesting because if he was just frustrated with maintaining it, why would you file the insurance claim on it? Why not just give it to somebody if you were just done with the boat, the yacht I should say?
HOLMES: Yes. You want to get something for it. Don't know if he was still paying on it. Who knows?
NGUYEN: Yes. But if they find out what you did, you're in a lot of hot water.
NGUYEN: That little problem there.
HOLMES: All right. We got some other news we can bring you now, some good news. A company that is hiring, and hiring a lot of folks, hiring thousands of employees.
NGUYEN: Yes. Our Josh Levs is here to tell us about that and about how you can send in your good news stories. You know, we do need some good news.
HOLMES: We do.
NGUYEN: These times when people have faced the job losses, a lot of people are looking for jobs, they want to know where they are and bring us back (INAUDIBLE), Josh.
LEVS: Exactly. And you know what? It's a perfect lead into what we're doing today. We're really excited. We saw the story today, and we spotted it from our affiliate, News 12 New Jersey. It's the six flags there. They're hiring 4,100 people, guys, for this season.
Now, of course, they are getting a lot of applicants. I want to give you sound from two of them. One who lost her job at a car dealership, and then a 14-year-old who wants to help out her family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE ROBINSON, JOB FAIR ATTENDEE: I figure I'd use the opportunity to do something that I've always wanted to do, and that's work with the animals and work with people.
TONY WHITE, JOB FAIR ATTENDEE: Sometimes, I can't go places because like there's not -- like I can't pay to get in, but because you don't have cash right now. But I'll have my own cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: So, see -- it's got a positive side to it. And that leads us right into what we are talking about today. You know, we always have so much negative news -- the foreclosures, there's unemployment. You know, there's so much and it seems to keep growing. We want to know, not in a cheesy way, but in a reality check way, what are the great things going on in the world that we should be paying to. We have a graphic for you here.
I mentioned this to our executive producer. And she said, "You know what? Do that on Facebook." So, there it is. We are on the Facebook bandwagon as you know. Betty and T.J. are a lot better than I am right now. But you can find my page, Josh Levs CNN. Write us and tell us. I'm going to keep an eye on this all week long.
What are the great things going on in the world that you think we should be paying attention to, that you think, just say great things about our time, and you can see on the board here behind me, some people are already weighing in here at Facebook. But it's become kind of an intellectual exercise.
Well, I'll show you one quickly and we'll get out of here. Who's this one? From Jeff Clark wrote, "Wow, your right. Yes, this is a tough one." He said, "Well, Tiger Woods is returning and that's something and finding the fossils out in the L.A."
So, people are looking for the good where they can find it. Send them along. And, Betty and T.J., here is the goal. I'm going to follow this all week long, and hopefully, we'll get a ton of really great stories, and next weekend, we'll be able to stop this and say, "Hey, look at how many awesome things are going on in the world right now even against the backdrop of this economy."
NGUYEN: Just like a breath of fresh air. I'm looking forward to that. Thank you, Josh.
LEVS: Thanks, guys.
NGUYEN: Speaking of Facebook, we've been asking you this morning, our e-mail question. What would you say to Congress, especially when you're dealing with this financial mess - the mortgage meltdown and all of that -- if you had a chance to go before Congress, what would you tell them? Well, we've gotten a lot of responses. And you can e-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our Facebook pages.
John on my Facebook page says, "I'll tell them to start focusing their efforts on looking at what works and what doesn't. Instead of bailing out the old and inefficient broken systems, let them fail and then spend the money on retraining and the development of new businesses."
So, we're getting a lot of good information.
HOLMES: We're getting a lot of responses, getting a lot -- some of them tongue in cheek and some of them some serious responses as well. Someone said they would say "May God have mercy on your souls."
HOLMES: Another is asking if they'd be willing, Congress, looks them dead in the eye and see if they'd be willing to take a pay cut. NGUYEN: Good luck with that fun.
HOLMES: Also, to those furloughs we've seeing.
HOLMES: I think they actually have that in California, would you be willing to not take your pay a little while? I wonder what the response would be, probably silence in the House of Congress.
NGUYEN: Yes, absolutely.
But we do want those questions coming. So, please send them in email@example.com or go to our Facebook pages.
HOLMES: Also, we have an interview coming up this morning that you do not want to miss. Next hour, our John King is sitting down with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. We'll talk to him about what's coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION." We'll be talking to John not the governor.
HOLMES: But he'll be here with us live telling us about his interview with the governor.
NGUYEN: We're also talking Oscars this morning. Mickey Rourke could complete a phenomenal comeback with a best actor Oscar tonight. We have a look at the top nominees and their chances of winning.
NGUYEN: So, what do you do if you're a former president in a situation like this when, you know, so many people are losing their jobs, people needing a job? Well, what he does is he gets an actual job offer. Yes. Former President Bush dropped in on Elliott's Hardware Store in Dallas.
In fact, the store wrote an open letter to Mr. Bush, inviting him to apply for -- get this -- position. Can you imagine? A greeter position. You know? Could you go into a store and envision former President Bush standing there going, "Welcome to Elliott's Hardware"?
HOLMES: I bet he'd be good, seriously.
HOLMES: But he's just that kind of personable, outgoing guy. He'd be nice a nice face to see when you walk into a store, politics aside.
NGUYEN: I was going to say, I have a feeling he's probably not going to take them up on that job offer. But they listed the jobs as having perks, as being flexible, a part-time schedule ...
HOLMES: Yes, a part-time schedule. NGUYEN: ... a short commute, ample parking and an employee discount -- which I know Mr. Bush is really wanting that.
HOLMES: Yes. We are working to get the owner of the store, to get them on the with us and see what they were thinking and what a job like that pays after, you know, after leaving the White House, what that part time job will pay.
NGUYEN: Exactly. What are the health benefits to that plan?
NGUYEN: All right. So, we'll try to get that to you a little bit later this morning.
But, in the meantime, our chief national correspondent, John King, host of "STATE OF THE UNION," he joins us live. It's a big day.
HOLMES: Big day for you, John -- always on "STATE OF THE UNION." You got a full-time job right now. You're not looking for any extra work, are you?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not at the moment, although, you know, President Bush likes to chop wood down at the ranch and clear brush. He's got a brand new house in Dallas. He might need that employee discount at the hardware store.
KING: That might not be such a bad thing to have right now in the tough economy.
HOLMES: Well, a lot comes with that employee. You got to some with all that Secret Service. So, you also will be greeted by like seven people when you walk in the door.
NGUYEN: And don't even try shaking his hand, OK? That's really not going to work. Secret Service will not allow that, I'm sure.
All right. Let me ask you this. You know, this is a big week. And we've seen a lot happen, in fact, in this past week when it comes to Roland Burris.
NGUYEN: I mean, this has turned into a scandal.
KING: And this is -- this story just will not go away. I mean, it traces back to Governor Rod Blagojevich, now the former governor, and Roland Burris was the man he put into Senate seat, that was Barack Obama Senate seat before he became president. Many Democrats didn't want to seat Roland Burris, but they felt they had no choice. And now, his story has changed. Did help the governor raise money? Did he cut some kind of deal? And so, now, there are reports he actually sat down and met with federal investigators. He will be back in Washington when the Senate comes back into session.
He says he did nothing wrong, that his story is not inconsistent, even though some people think certainly has some new wrinkles. The Senate Ethics Committee is looking into this. A prosecutor in Illinois has been asked to look into this. The federal investigation of Blagojevich continues and apparently, they want to talk to Mr. Burris as well.
So, this is a drama that will not go away. And here in Washington, most Democrats say that it's -- if nothing else -- embarrassing for them.
HOLMES: All right. Let's actually turn to the president now. He's had press conferences, taking questions, he's done interviews. He's got all kinds of surrogates out there speaking on his behalf. But still, big day on Tuesday. What does he have riding on the speech before Congress?
KING: Well, it's a big speech for the president because even as we've seen -- it's not technically a state of the union address new presidents give annual -- give a first address to a joint session of the Congress.
Look. He is trying to sell the stimulus plan. He's trying to convince the American people, yes, it's a lot of money but it will create jobs, be patient, those jobs are coming. He's going to put out a new budget this week that's going to cut some spending on Iraq and Afghanistan.
He's going to make some other tough choices the administration promises. And he has to sell this financial industry bailout. He has to see his new housing plan. Some people think maybe those who are playing by the rules, they're going to give tax dollars to help those who, maybe, bought a house they couldn't afford -- a long, huge list of challenges for the president.
We know that he is personally very popular. So, this is a great platform to address the American people. And maybe even try to turn a page. Remember how partisan the stimulus fight was? He didn't get that bipartisan beginning he wanted. Maybe he'll reach out -- we know he'll reach out in the speech and maybe try to turn the page.
But if you look at the issues coming up down the road, there's a big philosophical divide between the new Democratic president and Republicans in Congress. So, another big moment for the president on Tuesday night -- without a doubt.
NGUYEN: Yes. Well, tonight, he's going to be bringing some governors together, in fact, at the White House for a big dinner -- and some pretty good entertainment, if I do say so myself.
(LAUGHTER) KING: Are you an Earth, Wind and Fire fan?
NGUYEN: Yes, I love Earth, Wind and Fire.
KING: Well, maybe you should come up for the dinner.
NGUYEN: Yes, OK. Somehow, I lost the invitation in the mail.
KING: I'll tell -- I'll call the White House and say T.J. and Betty want to come up and see Earth, Wind and Fire. Look at that.
NGUYEN: I know you have that kind of pull, gun.
KING: We got it right here. We got it right here. Look at that. I used to have a suit just like that one!
KING: This is a big annual event. It's a big time actually -- it's an interesting time because most of the governors are grateful for that stimulus money and they'll be grateful for a free meal at the White House tonight. But some of the Republican governors -- the governor of Louisiana, for example, says, "I don't want that money because it comes with too many strings attached."
So, it's a great -- you have 50 governors who, all of them, think they should be the next president of the United States. That's at the president's house tonight. And so, it'd be an interesting conversation. We're going to have several of them actually here on the show today and to talk to them about, you know, seriously, they face some huge challenges.
And we'll have the governor of Mississippi, the governor of Massachusetts, and then the governor of California in the "STATE OF THE UNION" house here before they're going to have dinner with the president. But that would be a fascinating meeting to be at. These guys, the chief executives have to make the tough decisions in this tough economy.
HOLMES: Yes. Governor of Mississippi, I'll be interested to hear from Governor Barbour saying he's one that says he's not going to accept part of that stimulus money.
KING: That's right.
HOLMES: A small percentage but still, to say you don't -- not taking money when all these states are hurting like they are, I wonder how that's going to play in his state.
HOLMES: Now, you can ask him some good questions on that, John. Good to see you, as always, my man.
KING: We'll give it a try. You, guys, have a great day.
HOLMES: All right.
NGUYEN: You, too. "STATE OF THE UNION" is coming up at the top of the hour. Don't miss it right here on CNN.
In the meantime, are you headed to church today? Well, if you are, your neighbor may be bringing a Bible ...
HOLMES: Yes, I have the Bible.
NGUYEN: ... along with a gun.
NGUYEN: This is in your home state.
HOLMES: Yes, you had to throw that in there. But, yes, we'll get into that debate coming up in our "Faces of Faith" this morning.
But also -- Oscar trivia.
HOLMES: I don't know how good you are. But we've been throwing some stuff out there. Only three films have swept the top five categories for best picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay. What are they, Betty?
NGUYEN: "Silence of the Lambs."
HOLMES: How did you -- oh, Betty.
NGUYEN: Because I read very well. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," it says next up there, though. And "It Happened One Night."
NGUYEN: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes. It's 8:30 here in Atlanta, Georgia; 5:30 out in Los Angeles, California.
Well, tomorrow, President Obama, he's hosting someone on fiscal responsibility, as it's being billed. As part of it, he's meeting with governors to talk over the stimulus plan. They're already in town their at D.C. for an annual convention they hold. Some of the governors say they are approaching the plan with a bit of caution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ED RENDELL, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: I was asked by somebody, "What's the mood in Pennsylvania about the stimulus package?" And I said, "10 percent of the people don't like it very much, 10 percent of the people are enthusiastic, and the other 80 percent are waiting to see how it works."
GOV. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: The direction I gave everyone in my agency is to make sure, first of all, that when you spend a dollar, are you saving a job or creating a job? If not, are you digging a hole deeper?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, certain Republican governor are worried that the stimulus will waste too much money and some governors, particular those in Louisiana, South Carolina, and also, Mississippi, suggesting that they will turn down at least a small percentage of the money.
Well, we'll turn to another story that broke here over the weekend. A law enforcement official saying that DNA links a man already in prison to the murder of former Washington intern Chandra Levy; Levy disappeared back in 2001. Her body was found about a year later in a Washington park.
Person close to the investigation says police are expected to arrest Salvadorian immigrant, Ingmar Guandique in connection with the murder in the next few days. Levy's mother talked with our Don Lemon about this eight-year-old murder case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: What are you hoping to get from this? I know that, you know, it's tough because your daughter --
SUSAN LEVY, MOTHER OF CHANDRA LEVY: I want justice. No matter what, it's a bittersweet situation for me as a family member, a mother of a daughter who is no longer here, but I want justice. I want to know that the person that did it is in jail and will not ever do it to anybody else.
LEMON: Can you tell our viewers what you've been doing and what's that's been like for you and your family?
LEVY: Well, every day the elephant is there, every day you get a knot in your stomach. It doesn't go away. It's a life sentence for the families and relatives that miss their loved ones. So we have life sentences of hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, the other major player in this story was former California Congressman Gary Condit. He said he's glad the Levy family is finally getting some answers. Condit and Levy had a romantic affair and police questioned him several times in connection with the murder.
He was never officially a suspect however in her death. The negative publicity was cited for his defeat in the 2002 elections. BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the big show will go on and "Slumdog Millionaire" could be the Cinderella story at tonight's Academy Awards.
We are live in Los Angeles with a preview of all the hot races.
NGUYEN: Take look at this picture. This is former President Bush at Elliott's Hardware. This is right down the street from where he lives in Dallas. And in fact, he showed up one day after getting an open letter inviting him to apply for a greeter position at the hardware store.
We have on the line with us Kyle Walters, President and CEO. Mr. Walters, you sent this open letter out to the President. Are you just totally floored that he showed up at the hardware store?
KYLE WALTERS, PRESIDENT, CEO, ELLIOT'S HARDWARE: Well, we're not totally floored. We thought that he probably would show up.
WALTERS: We were very excited that he did on Saturday.
NGUYEN: And I take it that he didn't take you up on the offer as becoming the next greeter for the hardware store?
WALTERS: No, he didn't. And my understanding was -- I wasn't there on Saturday, I was out of town -- But I understand he walked in the door and said, "Hey, I'm here for a job." Anyway, he's got a great sense of humor and we appreciate that.
HOLMES: Mr. Walters, you talk about a sense of humor there. But really, why do it in the first place? What was really the objective?
WALTERS: Well, he was -- we knew he was moving back to town and many years ago, he had shopped with us some. And we've got a lot of greeters that have had executive positions in different companies before, and so we just thought, you know, what a great -- what a nice thing to offer him, a position as he moves back to town.
NGUYEN: But, obviously, you weren't taking this seriously, correct?
WALTERS: Well, we made a very serious offer, but whether or not he would take it or not, we didn't know.
WALTERS: Well, what were the perks of this offer? I mean, what were you throwing out there to entice the former President?
WALTERS: Well, we offered him a part-time position because we know he is going to be busy working on the library and he's got his place down in Crawford which is about 95 miles South of Dallas.
And so, we knew he wouldn't want to work full-time, but certainly thought that if you wanted to work part-time it would work out great for us.
NGUYEN: You also had ample parking, --
NGUYEN: -- it was close to his home and generous employee discount?
WALTERS: That's correct, that's correct and we know he likes to work outside and we've got plenty of products he can work with though.
HOLMES: Well, a couple of things here. Tell us, one, did he actually fill out an application? And what does a job like this pay?
WALTERS: Well, it's -- I guess it pays less than what he has been making and it's -- I guess it would been negotiable. But no, he did not fill out an application.
NGUYEN: Yes, that's kind of a hard thing. How much do I pay a former President?
WALTERS: That's exactly right.
NGUYEN: All right. Kyle Walters, President and CEO of Elliott's Hardware, thanks so much for your time this morning.
Hey, you know what, sometimes, you just have to ask, right?
HOLMES: You do. And you know what? He's got a pretty good salary history. I mean, his last job was paying him 400 grand as the President --
HOLMES: -- and before that, he was an executive. He is making a good salary, you know.
NGUYEN: All right. So we are about 8 hours and about 23 minutes away from tonight's Academy Awards. From the slums of India to a Joker from Gotham City, there are some nominees who practically have a lock on their trophies.
HOLMES: All right, but Oscars always has some underdogs and some surprises and we have some comeback kids as well.
One of our own comeback kids, CNN Entertainment correspondent, Shannon Cook, and she is live in Los Angeles with a break down.
SHANNON COOK, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Just as I need to make a comment, where did I go?
HOLMES: Well, you come back to our show from last weekend is all I was referring to. You know what? Why should I watch?
HOLMES: Why should I watch the Oscars tonight? Why would somebody tune in?
COOK: Well, for a start, Hugh Jackman is going to be an entertaining host, so you should watch for that reason. But also the big story, the big Cinderella story of the Oscars this year is "Slumdog Millionaire.
And this picture is probably going to take best picture and people are certainly rooting for it. Here's a story, a beautiful story about triumph of the human spirit and the film itself is a huge triumph. It's done incredibly well especially when you consider that it features pretty much no-name actors, it was made on a small budget and it almost went straight to DVD.
I think this is going to take best picture for sure and look out for Danny Boyle, the director of this film. I think he's going to take home best director and deservedly so for creating such an intensely thought-provoking film.
It's going to be a Slumdog night, I reckon.
NGUYEN: Yes, it does seem like the odds are on Slumdog but you know when it comes to the best actor category it almost seems like, you know, hey, it could go a few different ways.
COOK: Sure, sure. Well, this is really interesting, too. I think it's going to be a tossup between Sean Penn for his role in "Milk" and Mickey Rourke for his role in "The Wrestler."
I am rooting for Rourke and here is why. His performance in this film was absolutely heart-wrenching. And the whole art imitating life aspect is really, really interesting. Here's a guy who is trying desperately to revive his acting career while playing a wrestler who is trying desperately to revive his wrestling career.
And I love that he's portrayed as this gentle giant. He's a big brawny guy who really is a big softy. And Rourke is like that in person too. Here's a guy who you know, he's known for his bad boy antics, yet over the past week, he's been quietly mourning the death of his pet Chihuahua.
NGUYEN: Yes, he is a big dog lover. And he said his dogs are actually his friends and they help him get through the tough times in his life. So he does credit them.
HOLMES: All right and so far, and we want to go into the best actress category.
HOLMES: Meryl Streep is always one you wouldn't necessarily bet against.
NGUYEN: Right. HOLMES: You're saying in the best actor category it's really down to two guys maybe and "Slumdog" is going to run away with it. Are there going to be any surprises --
HOLMES: -- on this evening. Talk about best actress but still are we going to see any surprises?
COOK: I think in the best actress category we're not going to see any surprises. I think that's definitely going to go to Kate Winslet for her turn in "The Reader." Momentum is on her side. She won the Golden Globe. Everybody is talking about her.
I don't think this was her best performance necessarily. I think she did better in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Revolutionary Road," but I think she's going to get it.
I think it should go to Meryl Streep. Her role as this very prickly nun in "Doubt" was brilliant and I think she should get it, but I think it's Kate Winslet night --
NGUYEN: So when it comes to the supporting actress though, Shannon we've got some toss-ups there, I mean that's where really --
COOK: That's tough, that's really, really tough and the person -- anyone could take it, Penelope Cruz.
The person I'd like to see take it is Viola Davis. For her role in "Doubt," she was only in the film for about seven to ten minutes yet she was so unbelievably captivating in that short time and she really added something to the film. I'd like to see her triumph in that category for sure.
NGUYEN: All right, well, we will be watching tonight.
Hey, T.J., that may give you a little more incentive to watch.
HOLMES: Yes, yes.
COOK: I hope so. At least go and see some of these films because some of them are fantastic.
NGUYEN: Maybe the Red Carpet. Maybe you'll like watching that part. We've got it all covered. Speaking of the Red Carpet, thank you Shannon --
COOK: Thank you.
NGUYEN: CNN is on the Red Carpet tonight for the glitz, the glamour and all of the possible drama that could break out. We do have a whole bunch of celebrities in one place. And of course, we will be checking out what everyone is wearing which is T.J.'s favorite part.
HOLMES: Yes, of course, yes. Yes, Betty. OK, don't miss the Gold Rush -- I won't -- 7:00 Eastern tonight. Now, before the awards tonight, you can check out CNN.com for all things Oscars where you can click on the link that says Oscars. Good name for it. And vote for your favorite nominees. There are also some clips from the nominated movies on the site for you to watch.
NGUYEN: In the meantime, though, from the best of the best to the worst of the worst.
HOLMES: See, these are usually more interesting sometimes.
NGUYEN: That's right.
HOLMES: The Razzies and these are ones --
NGUYEN: That's good acting; I don't know what you're talking about, right.
HOLMES: She's just running. I know anybody should be running.
Ok, that's Paris Hilton and she took home the best, excuse me the worst actress award for the movie called "The Hottie and The Nottie.
NGUYEN: Well, you don't have that on DVD at the house?
HOLMES: I have no idea what that movie is about. Also Mike Myers in "The Love Guru," I don't know of you've seen that --
NGUYEN: I never watched that one either.
HOLMES: But he had three awards as well. That's for the anti- Oscars.
NGUYEN: And more incentive not to watch.
OK, here is a church bulletin for you this morning. Someone in your pew could be concealing a weapon.
HOLMES: Yes, probably not a rod and staff like biblical terms, we're talking about guns.
HOLMES: We'll show you where it might soon be OK to pack and pray.
HOLMES: Well, for all of you headed to church in my home state of Arkansas, including my parents, you might want to listen up. The person sitting next to you in that pew could soon be packing. The Arkansas house approved a bill this week -- actually last week -- allowing concealed handguns in churches. The bill will now head to the state senate.
Joining me live is state representative Jane English, who co- sponsored the bill, also Mark Deymaz, he is a pastor there in Little Rock. Kind of on different sides of this issue but sitting there together right now so I do appreciate both of you being here.
Representative English, this is not an issue necessarily for both of you; nobody wants guns in churches. It's just a matter of whether or not the churches should be allowed to make up their own minds. And right now, Arkansas law does not allow people to carry concealed weapons in churches. So Representative English, let me ask you why does that law need to be changed?
REP. JANE ENGLISH, ARKANSAS STATE HOUSE: To give churches a choice of whether or not they want to have concealed weapons in their -- in the church. And if they don't want to have a concealed weapon in the church, then all they have to do is post a sign outside or within a distance of the church that would say, "We don't want to have churches or concealed weapons in our church."
HOLMES: Is there anything for you, Representative English, that just doesn't sit well? I guess a lot of people would say, "It just doesn't seem right?" It just doesn't sit well that someone would be allowed to carry a gun in the church, no matter what makes the decision, it just shouldn't be allowed.
ENGLISH: No. I believe that there are a number of ministers who feel -- that are in my district -- who feel strongly that we ought to have that choice. And, in fact, my own pastor has a conceal and carry and his wife as well has a conceal and carry. And he feels very strongly that if something were to be attacking his flock that he would want to be able to respond.
HOLMES: All right.
And Pastor Deymaz here, you certainly don't want the law to be changed. You want churches to remain, those sanctuaries that people consider them being but she makes the point and certainly many do argue, that we had a rash of church shootings. Maybe not rash -- it's a strong word there but certainly out in Colorado, many people will remember back in '07, a couple of churches -- church shootings out there.
What is wrong, in your opinion, with people being able to protect themselves in houses of worship where we have seen them become targets before?
PASTOR MARK DEYMAZ, PASTOR MOSAIC CHURCH: Of course, it's the right and responsibility of the state to protect and defend its citizens and this responsibility extends into planes, into public places, public spaces, into schools and that responsibility extends into the church as well. Likewise, it's the responsibility of a shepherd to protect his flock and not the sheep themselves.
The fact is in the state of Arkansas, we already have the right, as pastors and churches, to have concealed weapons in our church in a form of safety and people that have been trained specifically to deal with instances that arise. Of course, no one can ensure whether there are concealed weapons broadly in the church or just as it exists now with security. No one can ensure that criminal acts do not occur in churches. We feel that the most safe and responsible way for churches to protect their flock and pastors to protect their flock is for trained security and people trained specifically for this to be armed and we already have that choice. We already have that right here in the state.
HOLMES: In your opinion, does it, even with armed security whether it's armed security guards or whether it is people carrying their own concealed weapons, parishioners there, does it fly into the face of putting your faith in God and, instead putting your faith in guns? Does it fly in the face of the message a bit even if you are using armed security and people aren't carrying their own concealed weapons?
DEYMAZ: Well, absolutely. Theologically, it's a bit of problem, a bit troubling to me that potentially people who are presumably coming to worship God and to pursue him by faith would somehow otherwise feel the need to carry a gun into the church in fear of man. Essentially, the church is to perform culture, not the culture to inform the church.
In these matters again we already have the right to protect and defend our flock. It is also the right of the state to protect and defend and this right extends into the church. It does not in any way violate the church and state separation. That, of course, primarily relates as a doctrine to the creation of state religion.
This is a matter of gun owners' rights and we don't believe that it's in the best interest of a large population of people gathered in a public place that people could be armed.
HOLMES: And I've got to go here. But Representative English, I want you to have the last word just to rebut when what you are you heard there since he took a little more time. So I just want to give you the last word here if you can in a few seconds.
ENGLISH: That's OK. I think it is a matter of choice and church and its flock ought to have that opportunity to make that decision for themselves.
HOLMES: All right. Things have been -- might be changing there in Arkansas since I went to church there growing up.
Representative English and again, Mark Deymaz, the pastor there in Little Rock; thank you all for taking time of being here with us. We will continue to watch this debate. You all take care. Thank you so much.
ENGLISH: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right -- Betty.
NGUYEN: It is very interesting, nonetheless. In the meantime though, keeping track of Congress practically every minute of the day: when politicians Twitter, is it a good thing or just a case of TMI?
NGUYEN: Everyone who uses Twitter knows you can't post more than 140 characters at a time. So you might think it would be a bad fit for our long-winded lawmakers but, in fact, it is catching on and some are using it for more than just talking about their points.
CNN's Kate Bolduan has that.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twitter, the social networking craze has made its way to Capitol Hill in a big way.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: The way I think of it is we now have a new public bulletin board.
REP. JOHN CULBERSON, (R) TEXAS: It goes to my 6,400 followers who can then send it to their hundred or thousand or two thousand followers who send it to their hundred or thousand followers and it's geometric. Just like this immediately.
BOLDUAN: Missouri Democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill and Texas Republican, Congressman John Culberson are two of an estimated 71 members of Congress Twittering. They have two of the largest Twitter followings posting in committee, from the House floor and on the way to preside over the senate.
Even Twittering during our interview.
What are you posting now?
MCCASKILL: Just an interview with CNN, I'm twitting.
CULBERSON: First time in our history we are empowered as free people through the Internet to see and hear and participate in our government.
BOLDUAN: Senator McCaskill updates her more than 4,000 followers on everything from the economic stimulus to her laundry and often spontaneous tweets, she says, not a task in the message-managed life of an elected official. So we ask could all of that Twittering be viewed as playing instead of working?
SEN. MCCASKILL: I don't think anybody in Missouri expects me to be reading legislation 24 hours a day. I think they expect me to be honest and authentic and candid and truthful. And I'm trying to do that in a measured way that reflects what my day is really like.
BOLDUAN: The whole Claire McCaskill?
SEN. MCCASKILL: The whole Claire McCaskill. Not just the official side.
BOLDUAN: And that is exactly what the Sunlight Foundation advocating greater transparency through technology hopes for.
CONOR KENNY, SR. EDITOR, SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION: It is a way of really opening up the mystery in a black box that is Congress to constituents back home and as well as revealing the human side of members of Congress.
BOLDUAN: Now Twittering isn't always well received. Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Twittered his whereabouts while traveling through Iraq. And now those posts have prompted the Pentagon to review its policy of releasing travel itineraries as they say looking into their instruction to include new communication technologies.
Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.
NGUYEN: I don't know. I think you have to move with the technology especially if you're getting your information out there to your constituents. It's probably one of the fastest ways to do it whether it's Facebook or Twitter or MySpace or whatever page you have.
HOLMES: They don't have to look anything up. It's coming right to them in their palm device, very easy. We're not there yet and just getting on Facebook.
NGUYEN: We're just managing Facebook as it is. And that's a bit challenging for us.
Stimulating the economy and creating new jobs. Stopping home foreclosures and getting a budget together. That's a whole lot of stuff on the to-do list. No governor faces a bigger challenge than California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
HOLMES: Governor Schwarzenegger plus the governors of Mississippi as well as Massachusetts will talk about all of those issues just ahead. They are all guests this morning on CNN's "State of the Union" with John King and that is coming your way in just a second.
Don't go anywhere. We have the headlines for you right now.
Pennsylvania police say an 11-year-old boy shot and killed his dad's pregnant girlfriend at point-blank range. He's been charged as an adult with two counts of homicide. The victim is 26-year-old Kenzie Houk. Police say she was eight months pregnant when she was shot while in her bed. Also police say the young man, after shooting her, got on a bus calmly and went to school.
We turn now to Australia; a national day of mourning there to honor and remember more than 200 people who died in huge wildfires earlier this month. A ceremony you're seeing here in Melbourne. The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised to rebuild the cities and towns that were devastated. As we know, hundreds of people were killed as those wildfires ravaged parts of Australia.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying good-bye to Asia and hello to Washington; she is on her way back to D.C. This is her first trip overseas as America's first diplomat as we know. Not customarily the place where the diplomat goes first. But it was her first trip. She touched on the issue of human rights issues and emphasized the global financial slump as more pressing of a priority. She did also hit on the human rights issues that also often come up in dealings with China right about now and said you can't let some of those things in the way of progress on the economic front.
Just some of the headlines there for you.
CNN's "State of the Union" with John King is coming up right now. Don't you go anywhere. He's got a full line-up for you.
We'll see you soon.