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President Obama Leaves G8 Summit Disappointed; Why is Ghana Only African Stop for President?; Dark Picture of Jackson Pill Use

Aired July 10, 2009 - 15:59   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, President Obama heads to Africa after a summit left him a bit weary and disappointed. This hour, what he gained and lost in Italy and his private talks with the pope.

Disturbing new evidence of Michael Jackson's prescription drug use, the confidential document that claims he once took as many as 40 anti- anxiety pills a day.

And they risk their lives on the battlefield, but should troops risk their lives by smoking? The pros and cons on a proposed ban on a habit that even the commander in chief hasn't been able to break.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world.


We're standing by for President Obama's arrival in Africa within the next hour. And we just got a readout of his final stop in Italy after the G8 Summit. That would have been a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI. We're told they exchanged their strong and starkly opposing views about abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, among other things.

Stand by for more details.

The first lady and the Obama daughters, by the way, also met with the pontiff, and the president left something behind. He delivered a letter to the pope from Senator Ted Kennedy. No word on what it said.

President Obama's calling his participation in the G8 Summit highly productive even though he didn't walk away with everything he wanted.

Our White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president's final stop overseas is Ghana. That's where he's going to be giving a major speech on the importance of democracy. But there was also an important lesson that he learned here in Europe, and that is how difficult it is to get world leaders to agree.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Obama wrapped up the G8 Economic Summit a popular figure, but admittedly a bit weary.

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The one thing I will be looking forward to is fewer summit meetings.

MALVEAUX: This would be his third international summit during his first six months in office, meetings that have grown from the leaders of eight of the world's richest nations to more than 40 heads of state, all trying to get a piece of the action.

OBAMA: What I've noticed is everybody wants the smallest possible group, smallest possible organization that includes them. So, if they're the 21st largest nation in the world, then they want the G21.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Obama suggested it wasn't the most efficient way of getting things done, but it did produce some results -- a September deadline for Iran to show whether it will negotiate giving up its nuclear program...

OBAMA: The international community has said here's a door you can walk through that allows you to lessen tensions and more fully join the international community.

MALVEAUX: ... and $20 billion in aid for struggling farmers to feed the poor. The president made the pitch to his counterparts using a story about his own Kenyan roots.

OBAMA: I have family members who live in villages. They themselves are not going hungry, but live in villages where hunger is real. And so, this is something that I understand in very personal terms.

MALVEAUX: But Mr. Obama also acknowledged some disappointments.

OBAMA: We did not reach agreement on every issue, and we still have much work ahead on climate change.

MALVEAUX: The president failed to get developing countries who are also big polluters, like China, India, and Brazil, to commit to a specific goal in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.


MALVEAUX: As for the global economic crisis affecting all of these countries, world leaders were cautious, giving their own economic policies more time to try to turn things around -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much.

A reminder -- stay with CNN. We're going to have live coverage of President Obama's arrival in Ghana a little bit more than an hour or so from now. That according to the schedule.

Some people are asking why the president is visiting this African nation and why now.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse is joining us now from Ghana, Accra, the capital, with more on what's going on. All right. Give us the background a little bit.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, while the rest of the continent is asking, as you rightly said, why Ghana, people here are celebrating the fact that they are the first Sub-Saharan African country to host the first African-American president.


MABUSE (voice-over): From welcome posters, paintings, T-shirts, trinkets, cloths, and flags, Ghana is spellbound by President Barack Obama's visit. His pictures are posted almost everywhere you turn in the capital, Accra. But while people here celebrate, others on the continent are asking why Ghana for Mr. Obama's first presidential trip to Sub-Saharan Africa?

Former president John Kufour believes it's a fitting privilege.

JOHN KUFOUR, FMR. GHANAIAN PRESIDENT: He wants to use Ghana as a bastion to address the whole of Africa, pointing at good governance, pointing at, I presume, economic development. Pointing at absence of conflict.

MABUSE: When it comes to Africa, Mr. Obama may have a tough act to follow. His predecessor, George W. Bush, who visited Ghana in February of last year, poured billions of dollars into the continent, and his AIDS relief fund has won praise. And the Clinton administration sought to boost trade with some African countries. By choosing Ghana as the country from which he's expected to outline his Africa policy, it's believed Mr. Obama is trying to send a message that under his leadership, investment and aid will be linked to good governance.

(on camera): Besides its history of peaceful transfers of power, Ghana also has strong and vibrant pillars of democracy, like a free press, and it is the importance of that Democratic institution in ensuring accountability on the continent that President Obama is likely to highlight during his visit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll deliver a nice policy statement (INAUDIBLE) good for opportunities. Then what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a great opportunity for tourism.

MABUSE: The debate in Ghana at the moment is not about what Mr. Obama can do for them, but how they can use his visit to do for themselves. This man is already cashing in on the euphoria.


MABUSE: Well, some Ghanaians are hoping that the spotlight, the current spotlight on the country, is going to increase tourism and investment, but we'll have to wait and see, Wolf, if that happens.

BLITZER: We'll see.

Nkepile Mabuse, thanks very much for that report.

She's in Accra. That's where the president is about to land.

Don't forget, Anderson Cooper is going to be in Accra with the president. He's going to have a special interview with President Obama that will air Monday night on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: There's an old saying, Wolf -- payback's a bitch. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor ruled against a promotion test for firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, because not enough minorities scored well enough on the test to qualify for promotion.

Now, last week, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, and next week it will be the firefighters' turn. Republicans plan to call two of these firefighters who did not get promoted to Washington to testify during Sotomayor's confirmation hearings next week -- the white firefighter who originally claimed reverse discrimination and the lone Puerto Rican firefighter who joined the lawsuit later, and incidentally did very well on the test.

This will make equal opportunity the focus of, at least, part of the confirmation hearings and will no doubt serve as a source of some embarrassment to the nominee. The hope is to establish that appellate judges may be influenced by personal and political views such as a belief in racial preferences for minorities. The GOP also has 12 other witnesses on their list. It ought to be standing room only -- ought to. Democrats plan to call 15 witnesses, many of them Republicans, in hopes of defending critics and convincing the 19- member Judiciary Committee that Sotomayor is a mainstream judge worthy of becoming the first Hispanic and third woman to be seated on the high court.

So, here's the question: Can firefighters from New Haven, Connecticut, derail Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to be justice of the United States Supreme Court?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Those historic hearings will begin 10:00 a.m. Monday morning. We'll have wall-to-wall coverage right here on CNN.

Thanks very much for that, Jack.

Shocking new allegations about the extent of Michael Jackson's prescription drug use. CNN has obtained a confidential memo that contends Jackson once popped dozens of anti-anxiety pills a night.

Also ahead, we're following up on allegations that African-American children were turned away from a private swim club. Now the director of the pool is speaking out. And in our "Strategy Session," he fought hard to get and keep this controversial Senate seat. Why Democratic Senator Roland Burris won't try to get re-elected to the job.


SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: Serving in public life is not easy, friends. It is a noble and rewarding calling.



BLITZER: Right now, pictures emerging regarding what Michael Jackson allegedly would do just to try to get some sleep. There are new and very disturbing details about prescription drug use and Jackson allegedly taking doses that are extremely high for any human to take.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have right here a confidential police document from 2004. It's from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. And I can tell you that we are not naming the people involved in this document, but these interviews were done with two of Michael Jackson's former security guards.

This is a confidential document, so we're not going to name those guards. But according to the document, one of them told investigators that Michael Jackson was taking "10-plus Xanax pills a night." And he said that when he expressed concerns to another one of Jackson's employees, he was told, "Jackson was doing better because he was down from 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night" -- 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night.

Now, one of the security guards did tell investigators that he would get Xanax prescriptions at pharmacies for Michael Jackson under "fictitious names" actually, including even the security guard's own name. He also named three other employees who he said were doing the very same thing.

Now, the other security guard questioned in the document that we have also backs that up. According to him, he said that he had also picked up prescriptions for Michael Jackson in someone else's name.

Now, we're not going to name the doctors who are mentioned in this, but I can tell you that one of the security guards interviewed by investigators named five doctors that he said were writing prescriptions for Michael Jackson. Again, not all of those prescriptions in Michael Jackson's name.

The security guard said in several states across the country including New York, California, Florida, he personally drove Jackson to different doctor's offices to get prescriptions. That really paints a picture here of doctor shopping. Now, that is also in line, of course, with what our sources are telling us that he told us that investigators want to interview every doctor who Michael Jackson ever really came into contact with.

Also, I want to mention that one of the security guards described Jackson as sharp and "in tune" before he went into the doctor's office for those visits then afterwards, the security guard said he would come out and he was "out of it and sedated."

That is all from this confidential document from the sheriff's department where two of Michael Jackson's former security guards were interviewed. That is the very latest on the Michael Jackson investigation.


BLITZER: Randi Kaye, thank you.

Let's get some analysis of what's going on with our CNN contributor, Bryan Monroe. He was the last journalist to interview Michael Jackson.

Were there indications that you knew about, that you had heard about of this amazing use of Xanax, either 10 pills a night, or even 30 or 40 pills a night, way, way beyond any normal use?

BRYAN MONROE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Wolf, when I interviewed him back in 2007, in September of 2007, I both spent -- over the course of three days, I didn't see any evidence of drug use, that he was out of it. In fact, what I saw was the opposite.

He was sharp. Randi's report about the security guard alluding to him being on top of it. And when I sat down and talked with him, he talked for a good hour and a half, easily, on a range of topics, and there was no slurring of words, he was very much on top of it.

But, you know, I talked to people who have been working with him, and, in fact, one of his health advisers, during the trial, just before that, and said that there were times, particularly towards the end of the trial, when he would really be wiped out. That trial took a lot out of him.

And we know that before, by his own words, he admitted that he had been addicted to prescription drugs back during -- just after the fire incident where his hair caught on fire after filming a Pepsi commercial, and that sort of started the process. But that trial was really, really a difficult thing.

And in fact, I was told at the end of the trial he was so wiped out, he placed a call to his adviser who came and saw him. And, in fact, at 5:00, they were going to escape from the big media hoard and go -- he, his driver and Michael were going to go and drive up to San Francisco to check into a hospital because he was so wiped out.

They got about 20 minutes outside of Santa Barbara and turned around, and instead, ended up at a small hospital, Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. And they just walked in by themselves, no entourage, checked in him at 5:00, laying on a gurney in the emergency room.

They hooked him up to i.v. fluids, and for the next 12 hours, from 5:00 p.m. to 5:15 a.m., when we checked on him again, he was still taking i.v. fluids. He was that dehydrated. And, in fact, the doctor at the time was said to have told this adviser that had he not been brought in, he may have been dead.

BLITZER: Amazing. Really dehydrated.

All right. Listen to Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father. He gave an interview to ABC News, and he had this exchange. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you think should raise these children now that Michael is gone?

JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FATHER: Their grandmother, Katherine, and I. Yes, there's no one else.


BLITZER: Now, obviously, Katherine, the grandmother, has custody, but there's been some concern about Joe Jackson, given the charges that his own son Michael made that he was abusive to him as a little boy.

MONROE: Well, you know, Joseph has played a strong role in Michael's upbringing. In fact, I asked Michael about Joseph, and he went from both praising Joseph -- you know, Joseph had his own beginning as a steelworker. He also had a little music group on the side called The Falcons -- and Joseph taught Michael and the brothers about stagemanship.

In fact, he remembers Joseph telling Michael, you know, "Never let them see you cry on stage." And in the same breath, he would also talk about how Joseph would have a belt in his hand while they were practicing.

And Michael said, in fact, he didn't get beat during practice. It would have been after the rehearsals when he would get his whoopings. And so, it was a very complex, tense relationship there.

But Joseph and Katherine have been living in separate homes. Joseph lives in Las Vegas, Katherine and the family lives in Encino. And I think, ultimately, it's going to come down to what the judge thinks is in the best interest of those children.

Now, I think it's with Katherine, with those nine brothers and sisters and that extended family, all those cousins, and Grace, the nanny, hopefully playing a role in that structure, because that's where they belong.

BLITZER: As you know, Monday there is a custody hearing out in California. Debbie Rowe, who's the biological mother of the two older kids, we don't know if she's going to seek some sort of custodial rights. MONROE: Yes, we don't. You know, she initially, right in the middle of when the story was breaking, initially said that she wanted to be back in their lives. Then her lawyer came out said hold on, we're still working that out.

So we don't know exactly what she will be saying, but, again, she really hasn't played much of a role in the lives of those kids, particularly over the last few years, I'm told. And I think, ultimately, those kids should be with the Jackson family. Now, if Debbie wants to have visitation or see them, you know, at the end of the day, with three little kids, you can never, ever have too much love in their lives.

BLITZER: Absolutely. All right, Bryan. Thanks very much.

Bryan Monroe is our CNN contributor.

Hints about why Sarah Palin is stepping down as governor as the father of her grandchild is now speaking out.

And there are bright red flames and clouds of white smoke over the skyline. The latest on that massive building fire in the heart of London.




Happening now, Iran takes an American into custody. Meanwhile, wait until you see the disturbing new video of those disturbing new tactics by the pro-government militia. They're dispersing protesters with a new form of a surprise ambush.

Could the slogan become "Uncle Sam Wants You to Stop Smoking"? The U.S. military is considering banning tobacco in the United States military. And one government official simply warns -- and let me quote -- "There's going to be trouble over this."

AIG, the bailed-out insurance company that ignited a firestorm when it paid employee bonuses, now set to hand out more bonuses.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A new warning this week that homemade explosive devices are the number-one threat to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. According to Pentagon figures, those attacks have increased by more than 1,000 percent since June of 2005. The danger clearly on the rise as the United States increases its military strength in Afghanistan.


BLITZER: Joining us now, the special U.S. Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke. Mr. Ambassador, welcome back.


BLITZER: It looks like this situation in Afghanistan is going from bad to worse. Is it?

HOLBROOKE: Well, the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated dramatically in the last four or five years.

President Obama came to office pledging to reverse that, because our national security interests are directly at stake. This isn't some remote place. This is the area from which the men of 9/11 planned to attack the U.S. And they say they're going to do it again.


BLITZER: But it seems to be deteriorating almost on a weekly or monthly basis.


HOLBROOKE: Well, I would -- I think what is true is that it has deteriorated steadily, and that the enemy increased its forces. This is why President Obama made what he himself has called in his recent interview with "Newsweek" the most difficult decision in his presidency, to send a 17,000 troops and 4,000 military trainers there to reverse the trend.

BLITZER: Another 21,000, on top of the many thousands who are already there. And...

HOLBROOKE: A total of 68,000 Americans...

BLITZER: Sixty-eight thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

HOLBROOKE: Plus a lot of NATO allies, over 100,000 troops.

The Taliban are getting supported by al Qaeda. They pose a direct threat to the United States. We here in the middle of an Afghan election campaign. It's a very difficult situation, but it is one in which the American and international resources are increasingly steadily.

BLITZER: It seems to be coming increasingly dangerous for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with these IED attacks increasing so dramatically.

HOLBROOKE: It is dangerous.

BLITZER: There is concern, though, that the Afghan army itself is not stepping up to the plate.

HOLBROOKE: Well, the Afghan army has not been a sufficient part of the current offensive, as General McChrystal has said.

BLITZER: Well, they have the most at stake, the Afghan people right now.


BLITZER: Why are they MIA?

HOLBROOKE: They are -- they're not MIA. It's that -- that they weren't fully integrated into the military plans of the current offensive. They will be.

And I -- and I think these issues about the Afghan army are related to a much deeper point, which is, we need to strengthen the Afghans' governmental capacity, militarily and economically.

So, what we're -- we're doing, we're dramatically increasing agricultural efforts, because we have to take the young youths away from the Taliban by getting jobs.


HOLBROOKE: This is an agricultural country.

BLITZER: You have confidence in Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan?

HOLBROOKE: He's the president of the country. We're working with him closely. In a month and 10 days, there's going to be a hugely important election in Afghanistan. There are other candidates in the race.

We don't have a candidate. We don't support, we don't oppose anyone. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, our former NATO commander, our brilliant new ambassador there, has been meeting with all the candidates.

BLITZER: There's been some excellent reporting by our Michael Ware in neighboring Pakistan. And he sat down with representatives of the Pakistan military, the Pakistan intelligence.


BLITZER: They seem to be making deals right now with the Taliban, and they want the United States...



BLITZER: ... to get involved in this.

I want you to listen to this clip. This is -- this is the Pakistani military spokesman, Athar Abbas.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's where Pakistan can perhaps provide valuable assistance to the American mission?

MAJOR GENERAL ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTANI ARMY SPOKESMAN: I think, yes, that can be worked out. That's possible.


BLITZER: Now, he's saying on the record he wants to work out some relationship, if you will, between the U.S. and the Taliban.

HOLBROOKE: No, I don't know what he's talking about.

The Taliban and al Qaeda are linked like this. And, unless the Taliban repudiates al Qaeda publicly, this is a nonstarter...


BLITZER: But he -- he -- he is also confirming on the record that there's a relationship that continues between the Pakistani government and the Taliban.


BLITZER: Let's listen to this. Listen.


ABBAS: No intelligence organization in the world shuts its last door on any other organization.


HOLBROOKE: Oh, I don't know...

BLITZER: Because you know there is a long history of the Pakistan intelligence service working with the Taliban. And he says they're not shutting the door.

HOLBROOKE: I don't -- I don't know what he's specifically referring to, not shutting the door.

The United States and President Karzai have long said that Taliban reconciliation is part of our program, people who work with the Taliban, who support them, who want to lay down their arms and participate, the door is always open.

It's not going to -- this war is not going to end on the decks of the USS Missouri, like World War II did. This war is going to end when the Taliban lay down their arms and reintegrate into society. And that's always been an option.

And President Karzai has spoken publicly, in interviews with you, I believe, on that same subject.

Let me be clear on this. We are not in favor of bringing people into the government who advocate the denial of rights to the women, who are murderous, and who are closely allied with al Qaeda.

But people fighting with the Taliban include vast numbers of people,, probably three-quarters, who just pick up a gun, get paid, and go off and do these things. And there's always room for them to be reintegrated. Many have come back. That program kind of fell apart. We're going to revitalize it.

After the elections, you're going to see a very dramatic increase in our policies across the board. And this will be one of them.

BLITZER: After the Afghan election?

HOLBROOKE: Sure, August 20.

BLITZER: Good luck.

HOLBROOKE: Well, I should say one more thing. It's a runoff situation, so, if nobody gets 50 percent on August 20, then there will be another -- a second round in about a month.

BLITZER: We will be covering it.

You have got a tough mission. And we wish you success.

HOLBROOKE: Well, thanks, Wolf.


BLITZER: And we're going to have much more from our interview with Ambassador Holbrooke on our weekend edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. That airs tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Allegations of racism at a swimming pool -- is an apology enough to wash the hurt away? Just ahead, the swim club president tries to explain what happened.

Also ahead, he's the phoenix rising again in California politics. But, once upon a time, he was known as Governor Moonbeam -- Jerry Brown's latest comeback.

And do Americans care if their president occasionally goes out for a smoke? See how your views square with our brand-new poll.


BLITZER: The NAACP compares what happened at a Philadelphia-area swim club to shameful episodes from Jim Crow segregation.

Pennsylvania officials will investigate claims of racial discrimination. Now the president of the Valley Club is explaining his version of the events.

Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, has been following the story.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kids whose parents belong to Valley Club were back in the water and having summer fun one day after controversy kept them away. And youngsters who got to use that same pool for only a day got an apology from the swim club, but no invitation to return.

JOHN DUESLER, VALLEY CLUB PRESIDENT: It's just really unfortunate, and we apologize deeply. We regret deeply that this had to happen.

CANDIOTTI: Here's what happened. A day care center catering to mainly minority black and Hispanic kids paid $1,950 for the kids to use the pool once a week for an hour-and-a-half. But, after one visit, their check was returned, and summer swim trips canceled.

J. DUESLER: We severely underestimated the number of children and our capacity to handle these groups. We were not prepared for it. And that's the only reason. It was a safety issue. And that's the only reason that the children -- we felt it was not safe for them to be here.

CANDIOTTI: The day care center calls that a lie. It claims the club pulled the club because of racist complaints from some white members.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The children came running down the hill saying, "Ms. Wright, Ms. Wright, those people up there are saying, what are those black kids doing in the pool?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just kind of, like, sad that, like, people are still thinking like -- thinking like this, when I felt like these days was over.

BERNICE DUESLER, WIFE OF VALLEY CLUB PRESIDENT: If someone said that, I -- I don't know. I didn't hear it. People are going to say things, but it's not our -- one person saying it is not the position of the club or the board, certainly not how we raise our children.

CANDIOTTI: The club flatly denies it discriminates, and says two other day care centers were also canceled after one visit.

J. DUESLER: It's just unfortunate that this had to turn into such a firestorm, because this has been totally misrepresented in terms of our club and -- and how welcoming we are.

B. DUESLER: He doesn't deserve this. He is a kind, tolerant person that -- that would do anything for anyone, and -- and teaches our children, teaches me, you know, that everything can be resolved with conversation.


CANDIOTTI: But, considering the gap between both sides, conversation alone may not resolve this controversy -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Susan Candiotti, on top of the story, thank you.

Meanwhile, crunch time out in Sacramento -- banks like Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase are refusing to take any more of California's IOUs. The state has a $26.3 billion budget deficit. It also has a governor's race next year.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, has been looking at one of the reasons that race is heating up right now -- Jessica.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they say there are no second acts in politics, but Jerry Brown could be the exception. He's already been governor of California twice, run for president three times, for U.S. Senate once, and been mayor of Oakland.

And now, it seems, Californians could send him back to the governor's mansion.

(voice-over): Governor Moonbeam is back. Will he get a chance to put his once-radical ideas into action again?

JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I could contribute in a very positive way of getting to this more enlightened state, this more accommodating, collaborative state of representation.

YELLIN: Now the state's attorney general, Brown hasn't even announced if he will run for governor, but he's already pulling well ahead of the Democratic field. And it's an open secret he wants the job.

BROWN: I like the -- the combat. I like the -- I like the conflict and the exploration of trying to deal with these conundrums.

YELLIN: It would be an astonishing comeback. As a two-term governor in the '70s, Brown was mocked for dating Linda Ronstadt, driving his own car, and sleeping on a futon here. He earned the nickname Moonbeam for new age ideas like his push for alternative energy...


BROWN: About a year ago, when we talked about using wood chips for energy, people laughed.


YELLIN: ... and proposing putting a weather satellite in space, now a common practice.

BROWN: The policies that we started, I mean, I started in a very dramatic and forceful way that set the pace for the whole country.

YELLIN: All but laughed out of office, Brown licked his wounds, studying Buddhism in Japan and visiting India.

BROWN: I'm very drawn to anything that will get at the deeper aspects of life.

YELLIN: Brown believes that what California and its political crises need is a touch of his Zen philosophy.

BROWN: Action and contemplation joined together is what I would call the highest path that we can follow. YELLIN (on camera): Politics is full of ironies. And here's one. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who's already in the race for governor, is poised to keep Jerry Brown, the onetime renegade, as a retread. After all, Brown is now 72, married, and adept at the game of politics.

This will be a race to watch -- Wolf.


BLITZER: And we will watch it, indeed.

Jessica, thank you.

World leaders or U.S. leaders, in terms of working with them, President Obama's asked to compare the two.


QUESTION: Do you find it more complicated or less complicated to deal with that than with the American Congress?



OBAMA: On -- on the second question, it's not even close.


BLITZER: So, how will members of Congress react to that upon the president's return to the United States?

And some of you are wondering why Sarah Palin is resigning as governor of Alaska. Wait until you hear what the father of her grandchild is now saying.


BLITZER: Roland Burris made it official today. He's not going to be seeking reelection as the senator from the state of Illinois.

Let's talk about that and more in our "Strategy Session."

Joining us now, our CNN political contributor the Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, and Republican strategist John Feehery. He's a former spokesperson for the former House Speaker Denny Hastert.

I will play a little clip, and then we will discuss.


SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: Today, I have returned to the place where my political journey began back in 1978, back to the South Side of Chicago, back to my community and my constituency, to announce, my friends, that I will not be a candidate in the 2010 election. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: How surprising is it, do you think, Hilary?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, not surprising. He -- he -- his -- this seat for him was doomed from the start.

BLITZER: Because he was adamant a few weeks...

ROSEN: And...

BLITZER: ... ago, you know, before a lot of this erupted that, you know, he was in this to win it.

ROSEN: It's a sad cap to a -- to a nice career that he had as a public servant before. But he -- he should never have accepted this seat, and he never would have had a chance to win reelection.

The -- the best part for me, though, about the Illinois Senate is that the Republicans consistently shoot themselves in the foot. What's more interesting, on the Republican side yesterday, the moderate Republican, Mark Kirk, just decided that he wasn't going to run because the Republican Party has decided that they wouldn't support him because he voted for President Obama's energy bill.

So, that he was looking for solutions for this country for energy, you know, negates him as a candidate for the Republican Party.

BLITZER: He's a congressman...


ROSEN: They're going to go now with a conservative choice, and, you know, I -- automatically lose this election.

BLITZER: You worked for an Illinois congressman, Denny Hastert.

What do you think?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I -- actually, I thought Mark Kirk was still running. I hadn't heard that he had dropped out.

ROSEN: Yes, he dropped out.

BLITZER: He could change his mind, though...


FEEHERY: He could change his mind.

But Mark would definitely be the best -- best candidate to run. And I think that he did take kind of a vote on cap-and-trade that might have hurt him down south, but he still is the best candidate.

And, on the Democratic side, they -- with Lisa Madigan not running for Senate, that's actually... BLITZER: The attorney general.

FEEHERY: The attorney general. That's actually very good for Republicans, because the -- the lead candidate, Alexi Gian -- Gian -- Giannoulias, I think, is how you say his name, has some real ethical problems tied up with Tony Rezko and other things that really will make the field better for a Republican.

I think we have still have a real good shot...


BLITZER: But I think it's fair to say there will be a -- a very intense Democratic primary and probably a Republican primary, as well, in the state of Illinois.

What do you think?

ROSEN: Well, I -- there will be an intense Democratic primary. But the Democratic registration in Illinois now favors the Democrats, so that they -- they can almost afford to have a primary, because they need, you know, to have a lot of support behind their candidate.

There are a couple good candidates, Chris Kennedy from the...

BLITZER: Robert Kennedy Jr.'s son.

ROSEN: Right -- is -- is going to be a strong candidate, too.

So, you know, the crazy thing, though, is that the Republicans seemed to have just blown their best chance. And, so, I'm looking forward to another Democrat coming back from Illinois.

BLITZER: There must be another moderate Republican out there that, in a -- in a sort of liberal state like Illinois could do well.

FEEHERY: Well, there are. There's several members of the House that I really like. Peter Roskam, Judy Biggert, and John Shimkus all would be great candidates. All could win statewide.

The question is, who is going to jump in and who's going to actually run it? Because this is a great opportunity for Republicans because Madigan stepped aside. And we shouldn't blow it.

BLITZER: All right, the president was asked this question, and had a quick response at his news conference in Italy earlier today.


QUESTION: After the six months wheeling and dealing with these international forums, G20, NATO, and G8, do you find it more complicated or less complicated to deal with that than with the American Congress?

OBAMA: Oh. Well, the...


OBAMA: On -- on the second question, it's not even close. I mean, Congress is always tougher.


BLITZER: Always tougher than the G8, NATO, all these forums, the G20, the G8 plus five, plus one.

What do you think?

FEEHERY: Well, the president's kind of expressed some frustration with all these G8 things and these G20 things he's got to go to, although, looking at the pictures, he seems like he's having a good time.

You know, I -- obviously, he's got a lot of hard work to do in Congress. They have got energy legislation that came out the House. They have got health care. That's a big bugaboo for the -- for the Democrats right now.

And they actually probably need him back in the country if they want to get any of this -- this stuff done.

BLITZER: I think he could have followed up and refined the question in this, say, is it more difficult to deal with the G8, let's say, or with Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate?


BLITZER: Because he's got problems with liberal Democrats, who want either a single-payer or a major government-sponsored health insurance plan, and he's got moderate Democrats...

ROSEN: Right.

BLITZER: ... who are closer to the Republicans on a lot of this.


ROSEN: Congress is its own branch of government. And these guys get elected on their own.

I -- you know, I think the good news is that, when -- in the end, the president will get the -- particularly the Democratic leadership together in Congress. And I think we will see a health reform bill, and we will see an energy bill.

But, in the meantime, you have a lot of independent chairmen there who don't think they have been elected just to ratify, you know, what gets handed to them. And -- and the White House is smart about this. They're letting Congress write the bills. And -- and then they're going to go in and -- and help shape them.

FEEHERY: And some frustration with guys like Charlie Rangel, who say, you know, the White House is cutting deals with the Senate, and they don't like it, and they're saying, we're -- they're going to walk away.

You have got Blue Dogs, you have got moderate Democrats, you have got conservative Democrats saying, we don't like this package.

So, it's going to be tough -- tough for the president to get this done. And he needs to be back in the country and do it.

BLITZER: He's going to be back in the United States Saturday night. He's got a lot of work to do if...


BLITZER: ... he hopes to sign this by the end of August.

ROSEN: It's going to be a busy summer.

FEEHERY: I don't think it's going to happen.

BLITZER: You don't think it's going to happen.

Do you think it's going to happen?

ROSEN: No...


ROSEN: ... not by the end of August.

BLITZER: All right. Well, he's got some time.



ROSEN: All right.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thank you.

So, what killed the king of pop? Police say murder has not been ruled out. We're going to bring you the latest developments in the investigation.

Iran cracks down even harder on dissent, and now there's word that an Iranian-American scholar, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, has been detained.

And don't smoke them if you have got them. Will the Pentagon tell U.S. military forces they can't light up?


BLITZER: On our "Political Ticker" right now, several stories.

The former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has undergone surgery to treat a serious leg infection. The 85-year-old Republican now is recovering over at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here in Washington. Dole's office says doctors found open sores on both of Dole's legs, performed several procedures on the left one.

In a statement, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee says he's recovering nicely and hopes to be out of the hospital by his 86th birthday on July 22.

We wish him, of course, a speedy, speedy recovery.

New friction between the Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, and her teenage daughter's former fiance. Levi Johnston says Palin is quitting her job this month, he says, to cash in on her fame. Johnston says he heard the governor several times earlier this year say how nice it would be to take advantage of lucrative offers, including a book deal and a reality show.

Palin's spokeswoman says Johnston is working on a piece of fiction while honing his acting skills.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, you can always check out

The stimulus package, the money is being spent in states across the country, including in Ohio.

We asked CNN's Jim Acosta to go there to find out how the money is being spent.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vice President Joe Biden came to Cincinnati to defend the stimulus right outside the home turf of one of the program's biggest critics.

Just up the road from Cincinnati is the district of House Minority Leader John Boehner. And, as we found out, some stimulus dollars are starting to arrive in his district.


(voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden jumped back into campaign mode, setting his sights on Republican critics of the stimulus.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the talk about how we're going to waste all these money? That's a dog that ain't barked yet.

ACOSTA: It appeared to be a direct shot at House Minority Leader John Boehner, who posted this Web video featuring a bloodhound on the hunt for stimulus jobs.

But some stimulus money has already found its way to Boehner's own district.

RICHARD JONES, BUTLER COUNTY, OHIO, SHERIFF: The stimulus is working for me here, in Butler County, because I'm keeping my deputies, and I'm not having to lay them off. ACOSTA: Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, a Republican who recently considered a primary challenge for Boehner's seat, got nearly a million dollars in stimulus funds two months ago. He's using the money to hold on to correctional officers he was on the verge of letting go.

JONES: And, if it wasn't for this stimulus money that's coming down right now, we may not be able to have these pods manned or womanned. You know, you have got to have people to watch people that are in jail.

We have...


ACOSTA (on camera): So, that means what? You wouldn't be able to hold as many people here as you...


JONES: I wouldn't be able -- without people, I would not be able to hold as many people in our jail. They would be out on the streets and...

ACOSTA: Causing trouble?

JONES: Hey, hey, it's -- it's just dangerous.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Just up the road from the sheriff, the Ohio Department of Transportation is days away from starting repaving work on this portion of Interstate 75, also in Boehner's district. The sign at the work site shows it, too, is a stimulus project.

Still, Boehner's office argues the stimulus is taking too long to make a difference, saying in a statement to CNN, "The entire process has been absurdly slow-moving just as Republicans warned it would be last winter."

BIDEN: What would they do? What would they do?

ACOSTA: Mr. Biden taunted his Republican critics in front of an abandoned warehouse that's slated to get $1.6 million in stimulus money for a project that would turn the building into apartments.

While the vice president said the project will create jobs, the developer told us he's still waiting for millions in financing from the bank -- no financing, he acknowledged, no project.

(on camera): So, you haven't quite gotten all of the financing for the project yet; is that correct? Or how is that going?

STEVE BLOOMFIELD, PROJECT DEVELOPER: It -- it -- we're very close to working things out with a local lender. And they have also been working very hard to make this happen.

ACOSTA: With polls showing voters in Ohio losing patience with the president's economic plan, Vice President Biden called for patience.

A case in point, the Cincinnati riverfront. It's slated to receive $22 million in stimulus funds for a revitalization project, but local officials say the project is just getting under way.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Cincinnati.