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AMERICAN MORNING

Obama Visiting Middle East; Abortion Doctor Killing: Who's Really Responsible?; Navy Launches Investigation over Missing Money at Sea; New Clue on Missing Air France Plane

Aired June 2, 2009 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And as we cross the top of the hour, it's 8:00 Eastern. Good morning. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. It's Tuesday. It's the 2nd of June. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Here's what we're working on this morning. These are the stories we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

A morning show exclusive. We're going to be speaking with Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele in just a couple of minutes.

Right now, the U.S military is using some of its satellites to search for Air France Flight 447. That plane with 228 passengers on board was on its way to Paris from Rio de Janeiro when it hit thunderstorms and vanished.

This morning, there are possibly some new clues that could signal where this plane went down.

Later today, President Obama leaves for the Middle East. He's hoping to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim and Arab world. Earlier, John spoke to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about some of the challenges he faces on this trip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: What he has to do and I believe will do is to, in fact, make clear that the West, us, we are not at war with Islam generally. That we have to understand what Muslims believe, that they also want to get rid of extremism and people that kill. And to really begin that dialogue. But he has a complicated job because he has many audiences to which he has to speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: President Obama will also address the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. And in a moment, we're going to take a closer look at what he is expected to say.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney taking the position that seems to place him to the left of President Obama. Cheney says that he supports same-sex marriage saying there should be freedom for everyone. He does say, though, that it's up to the states to decide. Again, President Obama says he supports same-sex unions, not gay marriage. Can Cheney get his fellow conservatives to agree on that issue?

First, though, the mystery of flight 447. The plane with 228 people on board. It disappeared Sunday night about four hours into the flight. The U.S. Government is now scouring satellite data trying to pinpoint the jet's last location.

And this morning, there are some new details about what another airline pilot saw in the ocean.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Paris. That was the intended destination of that flight.

Paula, what have you found out so far?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, a Brazilian commercial pilot does report when he landed in Brazil, did report that he did see burning wreckage. He pinpointed that location, and that is the concentration where there are several ships and Brazilian and French airplanes in the air right now searching. It is just coming upon daybreak over those waters, Kiran.

But what is starting to filter through to the families and relatives here in Paris and in Rio is the daunting task ahead of them. We've had French officials on the air here all morning saying exactly how difficult this search is going to be.

Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. Paula Newton for us this morning.

Thank you.

ROBERTS: Today, President Obama leaves for the Middle East. His first stop, Saudi Arabia. He'll then give a speech in Egypt on Thursday designed to repair U.S. relations with the Muslim world.

Speaking to national public radio yesterday, the president addressed whether the previous administration's terror policies complicate efforts to mend ties with the Middle East.

President Obama also plans to lay out his vision for a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But what can the president really expect to accomplish in this war-torn region?

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kiran and John, the president's Cairo speech is intended to emphasize the commonality of interest between the U.S. and Muslims, but anyway you look at this, it's an uphill climb.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CROWLEY (voice-over): If you listen on the streets to the Palestinian city of Ramallah, you understand the enormity of expectations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything in life needs to change between Americans, the United States and the Middle East, especially between Arab and Muslims.

CROWLEY: President Obama's speech in Cairo, Thursday, is another in a series of efforts to do just that. Reset the U.S. relationship with Arabs and Muslims.

HISHAM MELHEM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL ARABIYA: Definitely he is creating a more conducive environment in the Arab and the Muslim world for a different beginning, for a different page. And I think that's why millions of Arabs and Muslims are going to watch every word he utters in Cairo on Thursday.

CROWLEY: They wait to hear the president's words on the area's most intractable problem, the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He needs to deliver a message of reassurance, of that he means peace in the Middle East. A fair and balance peace between us and the Israelis.

CROWLEY: It is not just about Ramallah. It is key to the entire region, this from the heart of Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): His speech is for bringing the Palestinians and the Israelis together. We wish that he will be fair with the Palestinian people.

CROWLEY: Experts think in his speech, the president will, in some way, affirm the U.S.-Israeli relationship, but continue to pressure Israel to stop all construction in West Bank's settlements. They do not believe he will ignore, however, the Arab side of the peace equation.

STEVEN COOK, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The president, as is his will, is likely to hold the mirror up to the Arab and Muslim world as well, and suggest to them that incitement, the kinds of things not recognizing Israeli's legitimate right to exist in the Middle East.

CROWLEY: This speech is not just an outreach to Muslims and Arabs. It's for the folks back home. In a new CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll, 21 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Muslim countries. More than twice as many, 46 percent, have an unfavorable view.

Better relationships could mean a more stable oil supply for the U.S., and maybe diplomatic backup while dealing with Iran, but far more than that.

MELHEM: The radicals, the anti-American groups are using the festering, long festering Arab-Israeli conflict to mobilize support and to whip up anger and resentment against the United States. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: But even a whale of a speech, which the president is certainly capable of giving, can make much of a dent. In addition to low U.S. opinion of Arab countries, a new Gallup Poll shows only one in four people in the Arab world approve of U.S. leadership.

Kiran and John?

CHETRY: Candy Crowley for us. Thanks.

Well, the families of two American journalists detain in North Korea are making public pleas for their release. Laura Ling and Euna Lee go on trial, Thursday, on charges of spying.

Last night on Larry King, Lisa Ling spoke about her sister's treatment by the unpredictable and secretive North Korean government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Do you have any idea how they're being treated?

LISA LING, LAURA LING'S SISTER: Well, Swedish diplomats have now seen them three times. In fact, we just, as we were flying here today, heard word that the Swedish ambassador was able to get in and see them for the third time. And he says that they look healthy, and I talked to my sister once.

KING: He talks to you?

LING: He actually sends word through the State Department.

And I talked to my sister once. And when I asked her how she's been treated, she said, I'm being treated fairly. And for that, we are truly grateful. But, by the same token, she also said that she is -- is terrified. She's extremely scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The women were reporting on the plight of North Korean defectors living along the border with China and North Korea when they were taken into custody back in March.

ROBERTS: Well, the late night torch has been passed to Conan O'Brien. The Boston-born funny man took over hosting duties of "The Tonight Show" last night on NBC. Conan spent most of his monologue talking about how he's adjusting to the glamorous L.A. lifestyle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": Just the other night I went to the Lakers game with some of my famous pals. We had a blast. Check it out.

OK, there is Jack, right there. And there is Greg Kinnear. And, man, we were having a good time.

There I am. Check out where I am, folks! Check it out!

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Check it out, because it's Conan time!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Not quite the courtside seats, at least not yet. Will Farrell claim the honor of being Conan's first guest. The actor said he made the entrance seen here just to be sure that he didn't upstage the host.

CHETRY: There you go. It's just strange to see Will Farrell with clothes on. Usually he's running around naked in all of his movies.

ROBERTS: Well, thank goodness he had his clothes on last night.

CHETRY: With the body like that he shouldn't cover it up.

ROBERTS: Conan is probably going to do a good job. We will see how Leno does when he moves to primetime as well.

That will be a big challenge.

CHETRY: Yes. Different timeslot, different mirrors.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

CHETRY: Hey, still ahead, we're going to be speaking with Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele. We got a lot to talk to him about today.

He is not happy with the General Motors bailout. We'll hear his thoughts on that. The confirmation hearings of Judge Sotomayor, as well as some of the interesting comments on gay marriage by our former vice president.

Ten minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Today, General Motors and Chrysler have been given some $85 billion of your money, and now they have to explain to Congress how they're going to use it and eventually pay it back. Meantime, President Obama is defending the move by the federal government to step in and try to save the auto industry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis, the collapse of these companies would have been devastating for countless Americans and done enormous damage to our economy beyond the auto industry. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And the GOP is now firing back. They have a Web ad out dubbed GM government motors and called President Obama America's new CEO.

Joining us now from Washington in a CNN exclusive is Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele.

Great to have you with us this morning.

MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It's good to be with you.

CHETRY: So President Obama said he has no interest in actually running General Motors, but, you know, U.S. taxpayers now as we know hold a 60 percent stake in the company. You called it a government grab of a private company and another handout for the union cronies.

So if not the president's plan, what do you think we should have done when it comes to the auto industry?

STEELE: Well, I think you let happen what has happened with major corporations like GM before. They go into the market. They work out their situation in the market. They go through bankruptcy.

Look, we spent $20 billion to keep them from going into bankruptcy. So I'm sitting here now and asking myself, why did we spend $20 billion if that's ultimately where they were going to end up. Everyone stood in the doorstep preventing GM from declaring bankruptcy six, eight, ten months ago. And now this is where we are. So the reality for me was this is very short sided planning by the administration, that clearly, you know, the ultimate goal was bankruptcy. So why are we doing it now as opposed to earlier in the process. Let it work itself through.

Get rid of the bad assets, streamline the product, get a competitive business plan in place and go back into the marketplace very much like Harley Davidson did, very much like Chrysler did 20 years ago and make yourself a competitive force.

(CROSSTALK)

But this government intrusion to me is just offensive to the market.

CHETRY: But question, though. If we spent the billions as you said, it's already gone. We talked about that with the banks as well with a lot of the bailout money already gone.

So is it better at least that the government will have some oversight of we are as, you know, taxpayer's having some 60 percent share.

STEELE: Where is the oversight?

CHETRY: Isn't it better that we can help drive it perhaps to a better place?

STEELE: Tell me what we're driving. What are we driving towards? I mean, we're driving towards a government telling us what kind of car we need to buy, what kind of car GM is going to make. What are we driving towards? I don't know what the plan is here.

And the more important question for me is, you know, we had a rush by the administration to put a timeline in place to get out of Iraq. I want to know what the timeline is to get out of GM. What is the timeline to get out of our bank accounts? What is the timeline to get out of the business, the private sector business of this economy and let the small entrepreneur, the small businessman and woman who create the wealth in this nation, who employ 70 percent of this nation's work force? Let them get their hands around this economy and put it back to work.

All we need the government to do is to create the appropriate incentives so that availability of capital and credit is in place. We don't need any other intrusions, certainly not to the degree that we've seen. And I just think, you know, if I'm a bondholder or a shareholder of GM, I've been diluted out of business here.

What do I have? I have worthless stock. Unions have a greater stake in GM than a bondholder or a shareholder. This is the new economy that we're trying to create? I don't think so.

CHETRY: All right. Well, I want to ask you about some comments Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday. He was speaking at the National Press Club. And here's what he said when it comes to supporting gay marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Freedom means freedom for everyone. And as many of you know, one of my daughters is gay, and something that -- that -- we've lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: He went on to say, you know, gay marriage is OK, as long as it's up to the states -- individual states to decide, not the federal government. It seems to go further than even President Obama who said he supports civil unions, not gay marriage.

What do you think of Cheney's comments?

STEELE: Well, I think the vice president brings a very personal perspective to this issue and to the question of gay marriage and gay unions. And I think his comments are appropriate reflection of his family and a situation with his daughter.

You know? My view, personal view is, you know, marriage is between a man and a woman, very much in line with what the president has said. And I think that this battle should be appropriately worked out at the state level.

The states are the ones that are defining the question of marriage, and so they will be the ultimate arbiters, I think, of what constitutes marriage in a given state. So it is the appropriate reflection of the attitude and the culture of a particular community for that debate to take place. And I think the vice president has a legitimate point there.

CHETRY: All right. Well, you've certainly called for civility as have other Republican senators when it comes to questioning at the confirmation hearings of Judge Sotomayor. However, there are others within the Republican Party who have not taken that tack.

People like Rush Limbaugh who had gone as far as to call her a racist or a reverse racist. Other people coming out and saying that, you know, perhaps some of her comments do suggest perhaps that she could be racist.

Where is the Republican Party headed in terms of how Sotomayor will be handled at her confirmation hearings?

STEELE: Well, I've made it very clear from the very moment of this announcement of Judge Sotomayor's nomination -- that we wanted to take a very detailed and appropriate look at her judicial record.

She has 17 years of judicial experience. 3,600 cases that have come before her that we need to examine. And I think that any rush to judgment at this point is immature and inappropriate. I don't think that -- rather premature. I don't think that we need to jump on hot rhetoric at this point.

You know, we are celebrating very much as the rest of the country, and particularly Hispanic community, the elevation of a Latina American to this very prestigious opportunity. But that still does not take away the responsibility to look very closely at her record. Her comments, her public comments are a little bit disconcerting with respect to, you know, whether or not a Latina has a better judgment -- can make a better judgment than a white male. She needs to explain that.

And there are a lot of other things that she needs to go into some detail about and to put into proper context. And we will be very vigorous in examining that.

CHETRY: All right. Well, it's good to talk to you this morning. RNC Chairman Michael Steele --

STEELE: Thank you.

CHETRY: Thanks for being with us.

STEELE: It's good to be with you.

CHETRY: Nineteen minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Coming up on 21-1/2 minutes after the hour. And a quick look at the AM rundown, and stories coming your way in the next few minutes.

The Navy now investigating how $30,000 disappeared during the rescue mission of Captain Richard Phillips.

Why a man linked to the Mumbai attacks has been released from jail overnight. And who are the 25 fittest guys in the world?

We'll tell you coming up real soon.

We've seen it all too often. The emotionally charged debate over abortion leading to violence. Police say the man suspected of gunning down Dr. George Tiller acted alone, but did anti-abortion rhetoric also play a role in fueling his anger?

Carol Costello joins us now from Washington. She's got that part of the story.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of comments on our blog about this subject, John.

There is no doubt Dr. George Tiller had become the public face of late-term abortions -- procedures done beyond the second trimester. The kind of procedures that evoked extreme emotion in an already emotional debate.

Some say a long, vicious war of words hastened Tiller's death. Others say it was the act of one unbalanced man.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Hundreds gather to mourn Dr. George Tiller, a man they called caring and loving. There is anger here, too, at the man who allegedly physically killed Tiller and at those who they say demonized him.

ELEANOR SMEAL, FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION: To those who stir up the pot and then now they say they feel sorry, well, I'm sorry, they bear some responsibility for having demonized him unfairly, ridiculously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Tiller known as Tiller the Baby Killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiller is executing fetuses.

COSTELLO: Liberal blog sites like the Daily Kos agreed, pointing a finger of blame at Fox talk show host Bill O'Reilly who's debated for years whether Tiller should be allowed to practice.

RANDALL TERRY, OPERATION RESCUE: George Tiller was a mass murder. COSTELLO: Others who support abortion rights point the finger of blame at abortion opponents like Randall Terry who founded Operation Rescue, and often lead protests at Tiller's abortion clinic.

TERRY: And George Tiller was a murderer, and he was doing something that was literally demonic. So how can you not demonize something that is so intrinsically evil?

COSTELLO: Terry says he doesn't condone killing abortion providers, but says Tiller's death shouldn't preclude telling the truth.

Criminologists we talked would say it's unlikely words alone could drive someone to kill, and until we know more about the accused killer, it's best not to speculate.

But many anti-abortion groups are clearly on the defensive.

Frontline Pregnancy Centers issuing this statement: "Violence against abortionists is not pro-life." And the National Right to Life unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation.

CYNTHIA GORNEY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY: Right to Life movement...

COSTELLO: Cynthia Gorney who wrote a book on the abortion wars says these groups are likely truly sorry Tiller has been killed. It's the last thing the anti-abortion movement wanted to happen.

GORNEY: They're going to get a huge backlash against Right to Life. You're going to get a lot of people now saying, see, those people are all crazy. They all advocate violence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: And on his show last night, Bill O'Reilly said this, "60,000 potential human beings were aborted by the man, Dr. Tiller, who made millions of dollars doing it. To me that's unconscionable. As an American, I have a right to say that."

O'Reilly went on to say, "clear-thinking Americans should condemn the murder of late-term abortionist Tiller, because what he did was legal."

ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, clearly, you know, regardless of where you are in this debate, a tragedy that a person has been killed by it.

All right. Carol Costello for us this morning.

Carol, thanks so much.

And for more on the story, you can read Carol's blog.

Where to find it? Cnn.com/amfix.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: It's 27 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

A developing story out of Washington now. The Navy investigating how $30,000 disappeared during the rescue of the "Maersk Alabama's" Captain Richard Phillips.

Chris Lawrence is live at the Pentagon with more on where the money came from and also when the money was discovered missing.

Hey, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran. Well, it's the money that the pirates stole, and it came right out of the locked safe of the "Maersk Alabama."

Now a Pentagon spokesman is telling us that the NCIS is investigating how and when that $30,000 went missing.

Now, we believe the money was on board the lifeboat where four pirates held Captain Rich Phillips hostage. Now one pirate surrendered. Then a team of Navy SEALS snipers on board the "USS Bainbridge" shot and killed the other pirates and rescued the captain. NCIS is talking to anyone who may have had contact with the cash and that could include the crews of the "Maersk Alabama," the crew of the Bainbridge and the Navy SEALS who rescued Phillips.

Kiran?

CHETRY: So do we know that the money was even still onboard the lifeboat, even able to be taken at that point?

LAWRENCE: Yes, we think we do, because the U.S. government is filing federal charges against this one remaining pirate. There is a criminal complainant on record in which an FBI agent says the pirates put a gun to Captain Phillips head, they walked him to a ship safe, forced him to take out about $30,000. Then the pirates started splitting it up among themselves and got on board that lifeboat.

But the only items listed as evidence that were recovered from that lifeboat are AK 47s, ammo, cell phones and radios. No mention of the money. And that's the big question right now.

CHETRY: Chris Lawrence for us this morning at the Pentagon.

Thank you.

ROBERTS: Coming up on the half hour. Checking our top stories now.

New developments in the search for a missing Air France jet. Brazil's Air Force is investigating a report by commercial pilots who claim they saw what looked like a series of small fires in the Atlantic Ocean yesterday. Meanwhile, the relatives of the 228 people on board now being told to expect the worst. Two Americans are among the possible victims.

The leader of a Pakistani group linked to the Mumbai terror attacks was released from jail today in Pakistan according to a court official. His attorney had submitted a petition calling his detention illegal. India voiced what was called, quote, "serious doubts about Pakistan's sincerity in dealing with terrorism after the suspect's release."

Getting leaner and greener already. General Motors this morning confirming that hummer has a buyer. GM has announced a preliminary agreement to sell the gas-guzzling brand to an undisclosed buyer, not revealing the price. At least not yet.

That would be not -- yes, or not now. Whatever word I said.

President Obama is set for a major Mid-East trip aimed at improving U.S. relations with the Muslim world. The centerpiece of the trip is a long-awaited speech to Muslims. That's going to happen on Thursday in Cairo. But the president's first stop is Saudi Arabia. He's going to meet with King Abdullah on Wednesday.

And joining us now to preview the trip is Craig Unger. He is the author of, "House of Bush, House of Saud"; also, a contributing editor at "Vanity Fair" magazine.

Craig, it's great to see you this morning.

CRAIG UNGER, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, "HOUSE OF BUSH, HOUSE OF SAUD": Good to see you, John.

ROBERTS: So, ahead of this upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, "The New York Times" said that President Obama will, quote, "deliver a wish list." not just for himself but from Israeli and Palestinian officials as well.

How do you expect all of this is going to go?

UNGER: Well, I think for the Palestinians, he's going to want the Saudis to come up with some economic aid. I think he's also going to want the Saudis to help out with the Pakistan, which is very unstable and a nuclear power.

I think, perhaps, most difficult of all, he's going to want for the Israelis, for the Saudis, to at least offer an olive branch. That is whether it's offering a few visas, offering an office in Tel Aviv this coming just after Netanyahu was in Washington, of course. And Obama said no to more settlements in the West Bank.

ROBERTS: Now, you have written in great detail about the relationship between the Bush family and the house of Saud, including King Abdullah. They couldn't get King Abdullah to make those concessions. Do you expect that President Obama will be able to?

UNGER: Well, Bush Sr., of course, was very, very close to the Saudi Royal family. George W. Bush antagonized a lot and became very unpopular in the Arab world, of course, after the Iraq war. And partly, because I think he never really put pressure on Israel with regard to the Palestinian peace process.

ROBERTS: Right. Well, you know, in terms of the peace process, could this trip potentially revitalize that? You know, the Saudis had a peace plan back in 2002 which they called for Israel to retreat to within its 1967 borders. Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected that; he's also not onboard with this idea of two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living in peace side-by-side.

So, are we expecting any movement on that front?

UNGER: Well, predicting peace in the Middle East would be a very dicey prediction. And, of course, Netanyahu, as you say, is going to be very, very resistant. So, the question is: Will this lead to a confrontation between Obama and Netanyahu further down the road? And that's quite possible.

ROBERTS: Do you see Obama playing a bigger role in brokering a peace deal than his predecessor, President Bush? You know, President Bush left it alone for a long time and then started to come to the idea that this is really an important thing, but couldn't make anything happen. What do you say as the level of commitment of this administration and bringing these parties together?

UNGER: Well, I think any president, especially, Obama, has to deal with it immediately in his first term when he has a lot of political capital. I think what we're seeing evolve now is the tying together of two major issues. You have the nuclearization of Iran and the Israeli/Palestinian peace process.

And what we see has some potential here is a moderate Arab coalition with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the gulf states and so on -- putting pressure on Iran. But in return for that, they want the United States to play hardball with Israel and really put some meaning behind those words when they say freeze the settlements and get back on the peace ...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: What about a potential Israeli response to what's going on in Iran? Do you see potential conflict there?

UNGER: Absolutely. I mean, that's a real problem. I don't know if the Israelis are bluffing, but you hear them talking about it, hacking Iran by the end of the year. That has the potential for a major conflagration. Iran is a much more difficult customer than Saddam Hussein was and they have the ability to close the Persian Gulf -- and that would send up oil prices through the roof.

ROBERTS: Yes. On the point of oil prices, you know, the Bush administration arm-wrestled with the Saudis a lot, trying to get them to do something about price of oil -- nothing ever got done. Price of oil relatively low now compare to where it was last year, but creeping up as are gasoline prices. The economic recovery may be on the horizon here.

Do you expect that there will be discussions over the price of oil and could potentially President Obama say to King Abdullah, "Look, we don't want anything to jeopardize the economic recovery here because it's very important for the entire world, not just the United States. So, can you help us out here on buffering the oil prices?"

UNGER: Absolutely. Oil is always a topic when you're talking with the Saudi Arabia. Right now, the target price is around $75 a barrel. I think oil is around $69 or $70 today. But, again, the big threat out there is if there was war with Iran -- that would send oil prices through the roof.

ROBERTS: All right. Craig Unger, it's great to see. Thanks for coming by this morning. Appreciate it.

UNGER: Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: All right. Stay tune to CNN tonight, because at 8:00 Eastern, Campbell Brown is going to be talking with former GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney who is blasting President Obama ahead of his Middle East trip. Find out why Romney says the president is giving the U.S. a bad wrap.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Still ahead, we're going to find out the 25 fittest guys in the world. We're paging Dr. Gupta. He has the list. Is he on it, though? Hmm, could be.

It's 35 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Yes, New York. Not back in black, always in black. It's the uniform -- winter, spring, summer or fall. If you wear black in New York, you fit right in. Even though it's going to be 80 degrees today. So, there will be a little bit of heat on. Some scattered thunderstorms are coming our way as well.

It's 39 minutes now after the hour.

Let's fast-forward to stories that will be making news later on today.

Keeping an eye on Wall Street today -- will stocks continue Monday's rally? Hoping. The Dow is now near the break-even point for the year, raising hopes that a global economic recovery may, indeed, be brewing.

The auto industry recovery tour begins today. Obama administration officials will travel across the Midwest to discuss federal auto recovery efforts in communities that needed to survive. First up, hard-hit areas in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

And Hollywood's Annual Black Film Festival starts in Beverly Hills today. It is the 10th anniversary of the event, sometimes called the Black Sundance. There will be more than a hundred screenings over the next six days, stars like Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker and Spike Lee have all been part of it in the past.

Time to check on the nation's weather today -- Rob Marciano at the weather center in Atlanta.

And we got some stuff happening across the midsection of the country today, it would seem, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We do. On the border between hot and cold, that's what we see things fire up, that's for sure. And where the heat, is from New York all the way to the south -- cities like Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and even D.C., near 90. And some of these areas will see some ozone levels at the surface that will be high, so air quality alerts are in effect.

We mentioned some showers and thunderstorms. Some garden variety types heading into the New York area just for a couple of hours this morning and also some showers heading from Chicago back through Kansas. So, this all be sinking down to the south, including Dallas, which is get a pretty good line of thunderstorms right now swinging through the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area.

All right. Little treat for you, trying to get Atlantis back from Edwards Air Force Base to Cape Canaveral, and they got to put to piggy-back it on this 747 retrofitted by NASA. Old school. Remember, they used to do that all the time when they first started launching these things. Had to stop in El Paso yesterday because of weather -- and you saw those thunderstorms rolling across Texas today. So, still unsure as to what they are going to be doing as far as getting that shuttle back to where it belongs. If you're flying by plane, not all of us can fly on the shuttle.

New York metros will see a couple of hours today, maybe some delays there, Philly, Baltimore and D.C. as well, and Miami and Dallas and afternoon thunderstorms potentially.

And here's the haze across Atlanta. There is the capitol building. Already, only June 2nd, we're talking about air quality alerts. Hang back and kind of early to be sipping lemonade and looking for an excuse not to cut the grass, but I guess today is one of those days to do it, going south.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Rob, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

MARCIANO: All right. See you.

CHETRY: Some breaking information just in to CNN right now, about the fate of Air France Flight 447, the jet that disappeared yesterday with 228 passengers and crew. We're hearing now from the Brazilian air force that wreckage has been found about 435 miles north of the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

This is -- we're going to Google Earth into the -- change to it right now so you can see this area. It's about a thousand miles off the coast of Brazil. This is an area where they lost contact and where some automatic signals showing that there were some electrical problems and failure started coming in. This is when they lost contact.

Again, we are hearing from the Brazilian air force and various media outlets in Brazil that there has been the spotting of some wreckage that could, indeed, be from that Air France flight. So, we will keep you posted on the developing news out of the area as they continue to search and find out what went wrong on this flight carrying 228 people.

It's 42 minutes now past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

JON STEWART, TV HOST: I will say this, they are insanely glamorous, the romance, the charisma -- if only there was a way for the rest of us to experience just a little.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The desire! Amber. Passion. The dove.

Isn't it time you showed her you're the most powerful man in the world?

POTUS!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: No (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: We laugh, but I can see that just around the corner for some reason.

So, what did Hugh Jackman, LeBron James and Robert Downey, Jr. all have in common? Well, they're on the list of the 25 fittest men in the world.

And we're paging Dr. Gupta to find out some of the other men that got that title -- CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in Atlanta.

And I've also heard rumors that John is on the list as well. You two in your spare time with your romance enjoy some biking together?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're working our POTUS! The little cologne there.

CHETRY: Yes. I mean, you switch from Polo to Drakkar Noir and now, POTUS. I love it.

GUPTA: John was actually number 26. So, next year, when they have 26, the 26 fittest men, John will likely be on the list. He's actually in pretty good shape. Seriously speaking, biking there. He stays in shape that way. A lot of people stay in shape different ways.

And the 25 fittest men, it was interesting to look at them and to figure who they were and how they stay in shape. Rafael Nadal, the tennis player, he topped the list actually. And this is somebody that a lot of people finally watched this past weekend as well in the French Open. He stays in shape playing tennis for the most part, but in the off-season, hits the gym a lot.

LeBron James, you mentioned -- obviously, a basketball player, but also in the off-season, does a lot of yoga and Pilates, which surprises a lot of people. Singer Akon does more than 500 push-ups, sit-ups, dips, before each concert. And Manny Pacquiao does about 1,000 sit-ups a day for the two months leading up to a fight. Look at those abs.

Those are all pretty young guys. Hugh Jackman, you mention, older guy. Kick boxer, that's how he stays in shape, taking up tai chi and yoga as well. Robert Downey, Jr., on the set of his movies does a combination of intense cardios, swims, he surfs, he dog sleds, as well -- I thought that was interesting.

Richard Branson is 59 years old and he kite boards, as part of his exercise routine as well. Which I can tell you, from personal experience, a very good workout as well.

But that's just an example of some of those guys, Kiran.

CHETRY: Wow. All right. So, a lot of -- a lot of these celebrities have busy lives. A lot of them actually get paid to stay in shape. How about any regular folks on the list?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, I was very interested in that as well. There's a guy, his name is Richard Roll. He's a lawyer. He's 42 years old now. When he was about to turn 40, he said he was overweight. He said, "Look, this is enough. I'm about to turn 40 and I need to make some major changes."

What's so inspirational about him is he started off slow, about 45-minute run, maybe one day, do a swim, do a bike ride and he's gradual working out and made some dietary changes -- and even at his age with virtually no sort of athletic experience, look at him.

He looks fantastic. And he's one of the 25 fittest men in the world. A great inspiration -- go ahead.

CHETRY: No, I was going to say. It really was -- my neighbor is -- he could probably be my dad, you know? I mean, no offense to him, Michael. He is in such incredible shape. He kayaks every day. He bikes. He swims.

It seems like it's a huge time commitment to look, you know, to look that great and to be considered fit, isn't it?

GUPTA: It is a time commitment, but you can do it as well and maybe you don't need to spend all that time. Richard Roll, you know, 45-minute runs, you know, he gets the biking and swimming in. He does it every other day. You have to make it a priority.

I'll tell you another thing. I'm actually having a big birthday this fall. I've been twittering about this at amFIX. I have made a commitment to try and get in the best shape of my life as well. You just got to make a commitment to it in some way and then you're forced to do it.

ROBERTS: Hey, Doc, did you say -- did you describe Hugh Jackman as older guy?

(LAUGHTER)

GUPTA: Older than me is what I meant.

ROBERTS: Well, do you know how old he is?

GUPTA: Forty-six.

ROBERTS: No. He's 40.

GUPTA: No, he's 40. My page says 46!

ROBERTS: How old are you going to be?

GUPTA: Wait a second! I'm going to be 40. Big 4-0. Wait. I thought Hugh Jackman is 46. We'll check that. We'll check that.

ROBERTS: "Older" guy Gupta!

CHETRY: Yes, I know. Big 4-0, we're going to have to see what happens. You know, 40 chasing life. You got you got 60, 70 ...

GUPTA: Cheating death, chasing life.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Don't listen to him! He's an older guy!

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: By the way, how slow are you biking to keep up with his running?

ROBERTS: Oh, he's fast. He is for an older guy!

(LAUGHTER)

GUPTA: I deserved that. I deserved that!

CHETRY: I was way behind you guys on rollerblades saying, "Wait up, wait up!"

GUPTA: All right.

ROBERTS: Look, the older guy is right here.

GUPTA: We need to kill that video. We need to get rid of the video, not show it anymore.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Doc. Love you.

GUPTA: Thanks, guys.

CHETRY: Happy Birthday.

It's 50 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

ROBERTS: President Obama getting to work today. Before he heads to Saudi Arabia later tonight, he's got some beautiful weather to experience today. It's 63, mostly cloudy right now, isolated thunderstorms going up to a high of 88 today.

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor meets with senators on Capitol Hill today. One controversy, a ruling that she made against white firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, is certain to come up at her confirmation hearings. But before she gets in the hot seat, the Supreme Court itself could weigh in on that case.

Jason Carroll is here now with us to explain.

Good morning, Jason.

JASON CAROLL, CNN CORRESPNDENT: Timing is not the best for Sonia Sotomayor. It's a case that has left bitter feelings on both sides. It does center on a group of firefighters. Judge Sotomayor's ruling on the case has been heavily criticized by some.

Now, legal experts are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will reverse the ruling, and what effect that may have on her confirmation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROLL (voice-over): It was a controversial decision. As an appellate judge, Sonia Sotomayor is siding with the city of New Haven, Connecticut, throwing out results of firefighter promotion exams because none of the black applicants qualify.

Some white firefighters say it was a case of racial discrimination. Mark Marcherelli (ph) says he worked hard to do well on the test, but it was hollow victory.

MARK MARCHERELLI (ph), FIREFIGHTER: It was robbed from me on the basis of my race.

CARROLL: Marcherelli (ph) may still get his victory. Some legal experts are predicting the Supreme Court will overturn that ruling and if only to allow the white firefighters lawsuit to continue.

TOM GOLDSTEIN, CO-FOUNDER, SCOTUSBLOG.COM: It's either going to be very close, 5-4, or the Supreme Court's ruling is going to be narrow and it will say, "We don't know who wins or loses in this case. We just think you need a harder look at the evidence."

CARROLL: Even if the high court reverses the ruling, it wouldn't be the first time a Supreme Court nominee wound up in that kind of spotlight. John Roberts and Samuel Alito both had cases pending before the high court when they were just being considered. All nine justices came up through the appeals court.

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: All appeals court judges have the opinions reviewed by the Supreme Court. And most appeals court judges, at some point, have their views overturned by the Supreme Court.

CARROLL: Attorney Tom Goldstein has argued 21 cases before the Supreme Court and examined Sotomayor's legal record.

GOLDSTEIN: She has had 3,000 cases while on the court of appeals and has gotten reversed in only a handful or so. And that's a pretty good record.

CARROLL: For Sotomayor, it may be more a problem of timing.

TOOBIN: The Supreme Court may reject her interpretation of the law, just on the eve of her confirmation hearings. That could be embarrassing. It probably isn't enough to sink her nomination, but it's not something that you want.

CARROLL: If Sotomayor is confirmed, she is not likely to alter the ideological balance of the high court. She knows all of the justices and joining them is not expected to be a difficult adjustment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Legal experts say, if you look at Sotomayor, she has a history, by eight-to-one, of rejecting discrimination claims and favoring employers -- in many situations, siding with judges appointed by Republican presidents. You know, we also talked to legal experts, and they say, if you want to judge a judge, you know, read their opinions. And I think, in this particular case, a lot of folks looked at the opinion that was written dealing with the New Haven case and didn't think there was a lot of there.

ROBERTS: Right.

CARROLL: What's going to be interesting is to see what the opinion is, you know, is reached by Supreme Court. Reading the opinion is what's really going to determine, you know ...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Yes, timing is everything, you know? If they reject her, it's, you know, bad timing.

CARROLL: Right.

ROBERTS: But if -- also, if they uphold the decision, too. We won't know for a long time.

CARROLL: Yes.

ROBERTS: All right. Jason, thanks so much. Kiran?

CHETRY: Right. Well, still ahead, if you're a gaming fan, get ready. If you love the Beatles and gaming, you're really in for it.

It's 56 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHETRY: You want a revolution in a video game? Well, it's here. The Fab Four back together again, I guess you can say. The Beatles rock band, it will be available on X-Box, on Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii in September. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono on scene yesterday, they were promoting the new interactive game. There you see it.

Here's a look.

(VIDEO CLIP OF THE BEATLES)

CHETRY: There you go. It looks fun, I guess. I mean, you like the Beatles, of course, but John and I, we said we're not video game guys.

ROBERTS: Or girls, for that matter -- but here I am playing it.

CHETRY: There you go. I think you would get hooked on Guitar Hero. You play guitar and you collect guitars, you get hooked.

ROBERTS: I've tried it. I can play a real guitar better than I can Guitar Hero. But it is interesting to see the Beatles, they are lending their name to that, because they've been very dicey about that sort of thing.

CHETRY: Actually.

ROBERTS: Yes.

CHETRY: They must think it's pretty cool.

ROBERTS: Yes. It will be.

Continue the conversation -- it would be lucrative for them.

CHETRY: Yes, that's true.

ROBERTS: Continue the conversation, by the way, in today's stories. Go to our blog at CNN.com/amFIX.

CHETRY: Yes. And thanks so much for being with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll be right back here tomorrow.

ROBERTS: Right now, here's "CNN NEWSROOM" with Heidi Collins.

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