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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Typhoon Rescue Effort Continues in Taiwan; Health Care Turning Point?
Aired August 14, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: President Obama's big push for health care reform, is it now make or break? Can he counter the town hall critics, or will he and all us end up with watered-down reform or no change at all?
The president taking questions today at a town hall in a state, Montana, where presidents rarely visit, even if they're doing what he is, taking the first family to nearby Yellowstone National Park. But Mr. Obama came because, when it comes to passing reform, right now, the road truly runs through Montana.
"Raw Politics" tonight from Ed Henry.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Montana is a nice place to visit this time of year, but the president had more on his mind than just fly-fishing. He also came for urgent business, buttering up the state's senior senator and chairman of the Finance Committee, Max Baucus, who could hold the fate of health reform in his hands.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: first of all, the man who is working tirelessly to make sure that the American people get a fair deal when it comes to health care in America. Please give Max Baucus a big round of applause.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HENRY: In private, top presidential advisers acknowledge the fight reached a critical stage, because the opposition has gained some steam, capitalizing on anger over federal bailouts and debt at many congressional town hall meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does that state that the government has these powers to take over health care?
HENRY: By comparison, the president's town hall here was pretty tame, though he did get one pointed question that reflected the strong opposition he's facing.
RANDY RATHIE, QUESTIONED PRESIDENT OBAMA AT MONTANA TOWN HALL MEETING: We keep getting the bull. That's all we get is bull. You can't tell us how you're going to pay for this. The only way you're going to get that money is to raise our taxes. You said you wouldn't. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, you are absolutely right that I can't cover another 46 million people for free.
HENRY: But the president did not shrink from the challenge and vowed again he will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for the difference.
OBAMA: When I was campaigning, I made a promise that I would not raise your taxes if you made $250,000 a year or less. That's what I said. But I said that for people like myself who make more than that, there's nothing wrong with me paying a little bit more in order to help people who've got a little bit less.
HENRY: But many agree that is easier said than done. And, so, that leaves it to Baucus to figure out the pesky details of how to pay for reform.
White House aides privately acknowledge his panel is the last, best hope of getting a bipartisan deal. The weeks of negotiations in Washington have thus far come up empty.
COOPER: Ed, where is the White House on this now? What do they think they can actually get?
HENRY: Well, they are still hoping to get a deal. They insist they want to get all the president wants in terms of a public option and whatnot.
But it is looking increasingly like they are going to have to meet somewhere in the middle to get this done, because there has been very little movement. The bottom line is that White House aides in private say they know, when Congress comes back in September, the window is going to close very fast on getting a bipartisan dole. They have got to move on other business, like climate change legislation, et cetera.
And, so, that's why they have got to move pretty quickly in the fall if they're going to meet the president's deadline of the end of the year -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, didn't they also want to try get something by even in October, so there could be a full year before midterm congressional elections that they could go out and campaign on this?
HENRY: Absolutely, because they realize also that if you don't get it done by October, November, whenever Congress finally wraps up the session for this year, once you get into 2010 and you have got those midterm elections coming up, the division we are already seeing, some of the anger, the back-and-forth, it is only going to get sharper in an election years as both sides gear up. You have got every member of the House, one-third of the Senate up on the ballot. The president is not on the ballot, but some of those conservative Democrats, for example, who are nervous about whether taxes are going to be raised, and whatnot, their positions are going to only harden in an election year. That's really why they're pushing so hard right now, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ed Henry, thanks.
COOPER: All right, let's dig deeper now with our panel, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, "Chicago Tribune" columnist Clarence Page, and Nia-Malika Henderson, White House reporter for Politico.com.
Clarence, you said that health care reform could become Obama's Iraq. Is it as bad as -- as some Democrats fear right now?
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": I think they were caught off guard by the -- at least the visible theatrics, if you will, of the town hall protests. It's thrown them off-message. They haven't had anything positive to sell as far as specifics go because the legislation is still being worked out.
But it is very easy to attack the overall concept. So, they have been knocked on the defensive. They are trying to get their footing again. It is not too late, but there are remarkable similarities to the way Iraq went wrong very early.
COOPER: David, the president essentially today was saying that the media coverage of these town hall meetings is inaccurate and that we are focusing on the most dramatic exchanges, and that kind of is -- is giving more power to the loudest people than there should be. Do you think that is fair?
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think you are seeing the workings of democracy as the country works its way to a compromise on this enormous issue.
Look, Democrats remember 1994, too. There is no way that they are not going to not pass something that they can call a victory. Now there is a possibility, with this rising trend of public opposition to the House bill, to work out something more like a real compromise, not to do this with the kind of muscle that they were hoping to do it in the spring, to scale back some of their ambitions, and to work out something that is acceptable to 75 percent of the country, which is the way you should do something this big.
COOPER: Nia-Malika, though, some would call that reform-lite, though.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes. And it looks he probably is on track to disappoint some of the progressive Democrats who were really pushing for a public option. It looks that might be watered down in any final legislation. So, I mean, he is going to rankle -- rankle the left. But, in some ways, he has been doing that since he has been in office, so that won't necessarily be a surprise, if that ends up being the case with this final legislation.
COOPER: Well, Clarence, is it possible, though, that -- that the White House would then just give up on the notion of trying to get some sort of bipartisan bill and just go for, you know, having it be an all-Democratic vote, rather than trying to water things down more?
PAGE: Well, they can't get all the Democrats, meaning the Blue Dogs, if they don't get some Republican support. The Blue Dogs are just too skittish about passing a bill that is that polarized.
And my colleagues are correct. This is the way democracy is supposed to work. But if there is not a public option or something that looks an awful like one, then a lot of people are going to wonder what's the point because the whole thing initially was try to -- try to insure the uninsured and to bring down costs. And it is not headed in that direction yet.
FRUM: Here is the point. If you pass a measure that includes, for example, new regulations of insurance companies, so they can't drop people after they are sick, which is a major point for the White House, if you create this health exchanges, so that self-employed people can buy insurance with after-tax -- I'm sorry -- with before- tax dollars, the way employed people can, if you do some reforms for efficiency in Medicare, that is a -- that is a big achievement and it's one that can command a lot of support.
COOPER: It is interesting, Nia-Malika, when you talk to the people who are very angry and talking at these town halls, what you hear repeatedly is, even if it is not the issue of health care, it is this overall feeling that the government has just exploded in size and just throwing money at a problem and spending more money and these deficits are growing and growing and growing.
Does the White House see that as perhaps their biggest vulnerability come these midterm elections, the allegation that they are just growing government and -- and ballooning these deficits?
HENDERSON: Well, I mean, one of the things you hear from senior aides is that they are not going to be able to please everyone.
And I think ,in a lot of ways, a lot of these people you're seeing at these town halls and so upset about expanded government and health care specifically are probably the same people who you may have seen a year ago at McCain and Palin rallies.
So, I think, certainly, there is some vulnerability going into the 2010 election. But if they do get something passed with health care and it works, then I think they will certainly be less vulnerable going into 2010.
COOPER: It's interesting, David, because that is essentially what Bill Clinton was saying, that there will be a lot of anger and stuff, but, once they get a bill passed, Obama's approval rating will go back up a year from now, when people start seeing some sort of results. Do you buy that?
FRUM: His approval ratings will go up if there are more jobs and the economy is better. But I think there's no way that debt is not the big domestic issue of the 2010s. It's a real concern, and it will weigh on all aspects of government, all aspects of politics in the coming years.
COOPER: And, Clarence, is that why already we are hearing from President Obama more in the last day or so than previously emphasizing that his plan or that whatever plan is approved, emphasizing savings, that it will pay for itself, which is a hotly disputed claim?
PAGE: Yes. There is a lot of anxiety about the growing deficit. People balance -- have to balance their checkbooks at home. They expect the federal government to do so, too.
But I also agree with David that, if the economy is doing well next year, that tends to really smooth over a lot of other ills. And then you find that the federal deficit doesn't matter as much politically if the economy is doing well. If it is not, however, then people are going to beat him up for being inefficient and a spendthrift.
COOPER: We are going to have to leave it there.
Clarence Page, David Frum, Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks a lot.
PAGE: Thank you.
FRUM: Thank you.
HENDERSON: Good to be here.
COOPER: Well, our conversation continues right now online. Join the live chat at AC360.com. I just logged on myself.
Coming up next: President Obama told stories today of people doing the right thing, paying their bills, then losing their insurance right when they needed it most. We are going to hear more from a former insurance company executive-turned-whistle-blower.
And later: They were drowned, electrocuted, forced to fight to the death. We're talking about Michael Vick's dogs. Now that he is out of jail and back in the NFL, how are they doing? We have got an update you will be glad you stayed up for -- tonight on 360.
COOPER: Well, even as President Obama was holding his town hall, hundreds of the 47 million Americans without health insurance were packing the Inglewood forum where the Los Angeles Lakers used to play getting free medical care. As the president reminded a questioner back at the town hall, even having insurance is no guarantee you will actually get the care you need. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you do the responsible thing, if you pay your premiums each month so that you are covered in case of a crisis, when that crisis comes, if you have a heart attack or your husband finds out he has cancer, or you son or daughter is rushed to the hospital -- at the time when you're most vulnerable and most frightened, you can't be getting a phone call from your insurance company saying that your insurance is revoked.
It turns -- it turns out once you got sick, they scoured your records looking for reasons to cancel your policy. They find a minor mistake on your insurance form that you submitted years ago. That can't be allowed to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: But it does.
With us now is a man who once knew that reality firsthand, not as a patient, but from the other side, as a former senior executive at the insurance giant CIGNA.
Wendell Potter was the company's top spokesman. He also held similar positions at Humana and a large hospital chain in Tennessee and once served as press secretary for a Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Thanks for being with us.
You say that insurance companies intentionally -- and I quote you -- "confuse their customers and dump the sick, all so they can satisfy Wall Street investors."
How are they intentionally confusing customers and dumping the sick?
WENDELL POTTER, FORMER EXECUTIVE, CIGNA: Well, they confuse customers by not just being transparent, by not providing the information that -- a lot of us need.
A lot of people don't know that their insurance is inadequate. And that's why so many people are finding that they are in the ranks of the underinsured, because they just don't have any idea that their -- their coverages are not good enough.
They dump the sick by purposely looking at applications when someone files or has medical claims, whether you have a major illness or a major accident. If you buy your insurance through the individual marketplace, outside of your employer, you have to disclose whether or not you have had a preexisting condition.
If you leave something out, if you forget something, or don't even know something that is relevant that might be in some doctors' notes, the insurance company will use that as justification to cancel your policy.
COOPER: The forms I have seen on my insurance things are incredibly complicated. They make your head hurt. Are you saying that is intentional?
POTTER: It is very intentional. These companies make billions of dollars a year. They could certainly make these forms a lot clearer and a lot more easily understood. But it's not a priority.
COOPER: CIGNA, for the record, denies that they dump customers.
And they told us -- and I quote -- that "CIGNA complies with all regulatory requirements regarding setting rates and policy terms, consistent with our mission to provide individuals with a path to health, well-being and sense of security."
COOPER: Is that kind of statement you used to write?
POTTER: It is. And I'm not surprised.
For one thing, the regulations are not adequate to protect consumers. That's one thing. And it should be part of reform to keep this kind of from happening.
Senator Rockefeller, in the Senate, has asked CIGNA and I'm sure probably other insurers to come and make sure that they are telling the truth, because you can look through transcripts when these executives talk to Wall Street analysts, and you will hear them use the word purge. So, it is there. They -- they -- they acknowledge it. They say they do when they're talking to analysts, but they say they don't when they are talking to other people.
COOPER: You are also alleging that the health care industry right now is engaging in what you say are dirty tricks to stop health care reform from being passed.
What kind of dirty tricks are you talking about? And just specifically, to be clear, are you accusing CIGNA of engaging in these tactics?
POTTER: Not CIGNA. I'm talking about the industry, because, during my career, I served on a lot of industry committees through the trade associations and on a lot of trade groups that were funded by the -- oh, excuse me -- front groups that were funded by the industry.
The way it works is that the industry will hire big P.R. firms that create these front groups that have names that have no association with the insurance industry, and it is these front groups that do the things that you are seeing right now, that try to destroy health care reform by using terms like government takeover of the health care system, or we are heading down toward a slippery slope toward socialism, or we're going to kill your grandpa because of this health care reform bill.
COOPER: You're saying that language is written by insurance companies? POTTER: Absolutely.
COOPER: But, I mean, the folks who are showing up at these meetings, I mean, they are not being backed by -- they're not being paid to go there. I mean, there is a legitimate anger. There is a legitimate opposition, concern not just about health care, but about massive deficits and government intrusion.
POTTER: Yes, the other thing that they do, the other way that they work is the P.R. firms have very good connections with people that those folks listen to.
They have very close ties with the conservative radio talk show hosts and commentators and editorial page writers, and they feed the talking points. They feed the...
COOPER: Did you used to do that?
POTTER: I did, absolutely.
COOPER: What do you mean feed talking points to radio talk show hosts?
POTTER: Well, these P.R. firms have very close ties, they have good relationships with the producers, with the talk show hosts themselves, that will say, look, you need to understand this about health care reform or you need to know that, if this bill passes, then this is going to represent a government takeover the health care system.
It is not true, but it is the kind of language that the talk show host will welcome, because it is ideologically in synch with their world view.
COOPER: Interesting discussion.
Wendell Potter, we would like to have you back. Thank you very much.
POTTER: Thank you very much.
COOPER: As always, we're bringing you all the angles here at AC360.com, where you can find answers to your health care questions from our own 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
Just ahead: caught on tape, a woman Tasered twice in front of her kids. She what she is now doing about it. And was this justified at all?
Later, how our correspondent and badly needed help got over a raging river and into a village leveled by one of the worst typhoons in recent memory.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Two senators, each one old enough to remember the golden age of radio, got in a Twitter fight today, Arlen Specter tweeting Charles Grassley to stop scaring seniors about health care reform -- his words -- Grassley tweeting back, in so many words, am not.
They were fighting over the notion that reform might lead to pulling the plug on grandma or denying her care, in a word, rationing.
Fact or fiction?
Let's ask 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson a term that comes up a lot when talking about health care reform is rationing. What exactly does that mean?
Well, we came here to this intensive care unit at Southern Regional Hospital to try and find out. And what we heard was a tale of three sisters.
(voice-over): At 78, Thelma is the youngest. And then there is Carolyn, who is 80, and Helen, who is the oldest. She is 82.
(on camera): Are you worried with health care reform? A lot of people have been talking...
CAROLYN MCCOY, HAD HIP REPLACED: I -- I'm concerned with it.
GUPTA: Tell me why.
MCCOY: I try not to worry.
Well, I have read some things that says that, as you get older, you are liable to wait and wait and wait before you can have surgery. I have heard that they are going to look at the older people, and you are going to wait longer than the younger people.
GUPTA (voice-over): It's not true, though a lot of people think so. A look at the reform bill in Congress, there is no mention of that, no mention of rationing, no mention of the government making so- called end-of-life decisions for seniors.
So, where is this notion coming from? From a provision in the House health care bill providing for end-of-life counseling. Republican Chuck Grassley says his Senate committee dropped that provision, for fear it would be misinterpreted.
KEN THORPE, HEALTH POLICY EXPERT, EMORY UNIVERSITY: I think people are freaked out because there's a lot of bad information and misinformation being put out there by opponents of health care reform, by saying that we are somehow going to pull the -- the plug on grandma. Those are just sort of fear-mongering out there for opponents of reform.
GUPTA: Misinformation, yes. And, yet, that fear is only growing.
(on camera): Are they are saying that older people aren't as valuable as younger people?
MCCOY: Oh, certainly, certainly.
GUPTA: You feel that for real?
MCCOY: Well, I don't personally feel that, but I feel like the government thinks so. I have had two knees replaced. I have had a hip replaced. I have had spinal stenosis. And that was done at this hospital. That was back in 2000.
GUPTA: So quite a few operations.
MCCOY: Yes, I have.
GUPTA: How are you doing?
MCCOY: Oh, I'm doing great.
Here is where it gets a little bit difficult. Helen, the older sister, 82, also had a hip replacement, but now she is in intensive care unit with problems with her heart and problems with her kidney, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm doing the best I can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
GUPTA (voice-over): The three sisters have had more than 13 operations, over the years costing close to $250,000.
I asked Carolyn, is it worth it?
MCCOY: I say, if you pay your premiums, you ought to get the same service that the younger person does.
THORPE: There is no change in any of these pieces of legislation that would take the power away from the patient and the physician ultimately making whatever choice is best for them.
(voice-over): Dr. Radhakrishnan Nair is Helen's doctor.
(on camera): Should there be a cutoff at some point, just say, look, this person is and too old?
DR. RADHAKRISHNAN NAIR, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON, SOUTHERN REGIONAL HOSPITAL: The cutoff needs to be decided based on general health, their ability to go for rehabilitation after surgery, and ability to withstand surgery.
GUPTA: So, Anderson, as you can see here, as much as we talk about the policy of health care reform, all the numbers surrounding health care reform, a question that keeps getting asked of us, what if this were your mother? What if this were your grandmother? It is the art of medicine -- back to you.
COOPER: Different decisions.
Coming up: A simple traffic stop takes a stunning turn when a young man gets Tasered twice in front of her kids. We will show you the video ahead. Judge for yourself.
But, first, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, hundreds in California forced to evacuate, as wildfires plague the state. Flames have now ripped through the Santa Cruz Mountains, damaging more than 4,100 acres of wilderness. From Santa Barbara up to Sacramento, more than 125 square miles now scored. So far, though, no reports of injuries.
There are new details tonight in the deadly Hudson River plane crash that killed nine last weekend. Investigators say only two of the five air traffic controllers scheduled for duty on Saturday were in the control tower when the crash took place. Two others were on break. A third, the manager, left the facility just eight minutes before the private plane and helicopter collided.
Regulators have closed Colonial Bank, after a federal judge froze its assets. The bank, which has 346 branches, most of them across the Southeast, will be bought by rival BB&T. It's the largest bank failure of the year, six largest in U.S. history.
And Eunice Kennedy Shriver honored in a private funeral service today. Her daughter, Maria Shriver, offering a moving eulogy, as those in attendance celebrated the life of the Special Olympics founder, a truly unconventional life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA SHRIVER, FIRST LADY OF CALIFORNIA: Mummy was our hero. She was scary smart, and not afraid to show it. She was tough, but also compassionate, driven, but also really fun and funny, competitive, but also empathetic, restless and patient. Curious and prayerful, she liked to hang with the guys, but all her heroes except for her brother Jack, were women.
She had a husband who was totally devoted to her in every sense of that word, a man who marveled at everything she said and everything she did.
He didn't mind if her hair was a mess, if she walked around in a wet bathing suit, if she beat him at tennis or challenged his ideas. He let her Rick. , and he let her roar, and he loved everything about her.
Add that to five kids who adored her and loved to be with her, and you have the ultimate role model. Mummy was all of our best friends. And it was an honor for all of us to be her children and a special privilege for me to be her daughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Eunice Shriver's sole surviving brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, who is battling cancer, was unable to attend, Anderson.
COOPER: An extraordinary, extraordinary life.
Just ahead tonight, we're going to show you the extreme rescues from Taiwan's extreme and deadly encounter with a typhoon.
And, later, how Michael Vick's dogs are doing, now that their former master is back on the playing field and the dogs are no longer part of his animal cruelty operation.
COOPER: A grim reality in Taiwan, feared more than 500 people may have died in that massive typhoon. Hundreds are missing right now, as anger grows over the government's slow response to the crisis.
Rescue workers, some 20,000 of them, are battling raging rivers, dense fogs in the search for survivors. Take a look at these images.
Even then, the journey to safety can be terrifying.
Senior international correspondent John Vause is in Taiwan with the latest.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before Typhoon Morakot hit, getting to Taiwan's remote mountain villages was tough. But now it's nearly impossible. Major roads are blocked by mudslides and debris. Some are partly washed away.
And then there's this bridge. It is simply gone, brought down during the storm, completely cutting off the village of Shing Ki. The river is still swollen and rapid. A few who tried to cross there were swept away, plucked to safety by rescue crews.
So, the only way in and out is by this harness.
(on camera): This is how they have been getting villagers out of Shing Ki, so far more than 100 people. So, they say it is pretty safe.
(voice-over): But it is still a long way down.
(on camera): It's probably about a 200-foot drop straight down onto the rocks down there. This water is moving pretty quickly. All that is really holding me right now is this one hook there which is connected to these three cleats. OK. OK. OK. (voice-over): The sign reads, "SOS, 32 people died here," and a local official coming out of Shing Ki, says bodies have been left rotting for days.
Walking into the village, the road has collapsed in places. Power lines are down. There's been no electricity or running water for a week. But there is mud. Lots of it. Just getting across is not easy.
(on camera) It really is just like walking through quick sand.
(voice-over) This village has been all but abandoned except for one family refusing to leave. Everyone else, almost 300 people, have made that perilous journey to safety.
"I'm not sure I'll go back," says this young man. "We'll wait until the roads are clear and try to clean up."
But by day's end getting out was not so easy.
(on camera) So basically they said that...
(voice-over) So the safest way they said was across the river. The same river where others had earlier been swept away. They said that the rope was starting to sag and that if we tried it, both cables could snap. So I realized I had no choice but to do this. It seemed worse from up there than it did down here.
(on camera) And this is now life here for so many villages and houses cut off by mudslides and debris. It will be a long time before the people of Shing Ki will ever be able to go home again.
COOPER: John, how are rescue efforts going right now?
VAUSE: Well, it is still slow work. And to be honest, Anderson, there probably isn't any rescuing to be done. There are still some people who are isolated that need to get out, maybe 1,000, maybe a few more.
And as for the recovery of the bodies, well, now they're saying that many of the bodies will be left where they are, because that is the wish of some of the relatives, buried under that mud. They want to make those kind of areas a memorial.
Just to give you an idea of just how difficult all this is, where I'm standing right now, this was once a main two-lane highway, 45 feet wide. But with the rains from Morakot this river just over here rose up. It burst its banks. It dumped piles of mud and rocks and other debris all across here.
This heavy moving equipment is actually using the rocks and gravel to try and build another temporary road just over there. They're trying to get this open. They've got an old tunnel which they've reopened. It was built by the Japanese during the '30s. And this is crucial, because they need this access to get up to some of those isolated villages in the mountains, Anderson.
COOPER: That is so sad. John Vause, going to great lengths to get the story. John, thank you very much. Stay safe.
Typhoon Morakot dumped a massive amount of rain on Taiwan. Here's the raw data. More than 80 inches of rain fell during the storm last week. Eighty inches. Nearly seven feet of rain in just two days.
In comparison, about ten inches fell in New York's Central Park in the entire month of June, which almost set a new record. Whenever we New Yorkers complain about rain this summer we should think of the people of Taiwan.
Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.
Ahead, a remorseful Michael Vick. Seemed remorseful, at least. So he says. Fresh off his new deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, the quarterback asked for a second chance. His dog-fighting days may be behind him, but what about the animals he treat so brutally? How are they doing? We have an update.
And a traffic stop gone horribly wrong. A mom tasered by a sheriff's deputy in front of her kids, twice. What happened? Find out.
COOPER: Michael Vick is asking for a second chance. Just last month, the former Atlanta Falcon completed a 23-month sentence for running dog-fighting -- a dog-fighting ring. But today as he announced his new deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, a remorseful Vick vowed to make up for past mistakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL VICK, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER: I was wrong for what I did. Everything that happened at that point in time of my life was wrong and, you know, it was unnecessary. And to the life of me to this day I can't understand why I was involved in such pointless activity and why did I risk so much at the pinnacle of my career. And I was naive to a lot of things. But I figure if I can help more animals than I hurt, then, you know, I'm contributing, I'm doing my part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Here at 360 we're really less interested in what happens to Vick to what happens to the dogs he once groomed to fight to the death. We can report that most of the dogs are now doing amazingly better.
Randi Kaye has the "360 Follow."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Don't let those sharp teeth fool you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're making a very scary face.
KAYE: That's Jhumpa, one of 51 pit bulls rescued from football great Michael Vick's dog-fighting ring back in 2007. Two died of disease. Two others were put down. One for medical reasons, another too dangerous.
But the rest are thriving. They had to be socialized and housebroken, even taught how to walk up stairs. But today half of them are either in permanent homes or foster homes. The rest are in an animal sanctuary in Utah. None are in shelters.
And look at Jhumpa. She was adopted by Kathleen, who didn't want us to use they are last name and now lives in New York. She has company, too. Two other pit bulls, a black lab, a terrier and five cats.
KATHLEEN, JHUMPA'S OWNER: One of the things that brought her out of her shell so much was the other animals. And her learning from them and watching them and watching them trust me and learning that, you know, living in a home was actually a really good thing.
KAYE: Jhumpa lives the life of luxury. When she's not on the couch, she sleeps in her pink bed. She walks or runs about five miles a day and snacks on doggy bonbons. Her favorite, though, is cheese.
Jhumpa's owner says she's great with children and loves to be around people and other animals.
(on camera) Like the other pit bulls who were adopted by families, Jhumpa was closely evaluated to make sure it was safe for her to be around people, especially young kids. All she need was time, Kathleen says, to understand the world is a better place than she'd known before.
KATHLEEN: The real truth of the matter is that she's taught me far more than I will ever teach her about repair and trust and growth and how, you know, how we can -- how we can aspire to things that are bigger and better than we had ever, ever imagined. So I'm very, very fortunate to have her in my life.
KAYE (voice-over): And just like Jhumpa, Kathleen says the man who abused her deserves a second chance, too.
KATHLEEN: I think that, in spite of everything he's done to these dogs, I think he deserves a second chance. And I think he needs a chance to show the world that he, too, can repair. I hope that he's -- I hope that he has the tools to do that.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: And joining us now is Jhumpa and her adoptive mom, Kathleen.
So how old is Jhumpa? KATHLEEN: She's about 4.
COOPER: And how much -- how much has she changed since you've had her?
KATHLEEN: Entirely. When she first came to live with us, she didn't do a lot of standing up like this at all. She crawled on her belly and kind of moved her eyes side to side. And it took her quite a while to figure out that she could trust the world around her.
COOPER: She's still kind of scared around strangers.
KATHLEEN: She's nervous. Yes, she still gets nervous.
COOPER: I have cheese in my hand which is why she's being so friendly to me.
But you know, pit bulls get a bad wrap. I think they're great -- they're great dogs.
KATHLEEN: They are. They're excellent dogs. They do get a bad rap. I mean, I think that when they get into the hands of people who want to do bad things with them, that -- you know, that they end up getting a reputation that doesn't at all represent the breed. The breed is a very friendly breed. And yes, they're very social.
COOPER: And how long did Michael Vick have her, do you know?
KATHLEEN: You know, we don't exactly know. I think she was about 2 1/2 when she came out of his -- came out of his yard.
COOPER: And had she already -- had she actually fought, or she was just being...
KATHLEEN: We don't know. We don't know.
She did come with some scarring on her back and her face and her legs, but that could have been because she was bred. And we do think that she had had a couple of litters before.
COOPER: And how do you rebuild confidence in a dog? I mean, how do you rebuild the trust?
KATHLEEN: Time. Time and experience and exposure to things like this, and she gets out every single day on walks. And I socialize her. I take her to places where most people don't take their dogs. We do a lot of, you know, going into stores that allow dogs and things like that where she can get exposure to a lot of different kinds of people and experiences. Yes.
COOPER: I'm out of cheese.
KATHLEEN: Yes, I know.
COOPER: I think we're out of time. Thank you, Jhumpa. Thanks for coming by. KATHLEEN: Thanks for having us.
COOPER: Thanks. It's amazing. Great work.
COOPER: Out of cheese, out of time.
Coming up, an update on the breaking news we brought you last night. Michael Phelps involved in the car crash. What happened? Who's at fault? We'll have the details.
And President Obama gets a grilling from an 11-year-old. We'll talk to Damon Weaver about what he asked the president.
COOPER: Well, as exclusive interviews go, the president of the United States is a pretty good get. And as someone who's been through the process, I can tell you it's sometimes quite daunting.
So major props tonight to reporter Damon Weaver of Kathunke (ph), Florida, for his exclusive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON WEAVER, STUDENT REPORTER: Do you have the power to make the school lunches better?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we want to do is make sure that there are more fruits and vegetables in the schools. Kids may not end up liking that, but it's actually better for them. It would be healthier for them. And those are some of the changes that we're trying to make.
WEAVER: I suggest that we have French fries and mangoes every day for lunch.
OBAMA: See, that -- you know -- and if you were planning the lunch program, it would probably taste good to you, but it might not make you big and strong like you need to be.
WEAVER: Everybody knows that you love basketball. I think it would be cool to have a president that can dunk. Can you dunk?
OBAMA: Not anymore. I used to when I was young. But I'm almost 50 now, so your legs are the first thing to go.
COOPER: French fries and mangoes? That's Damon Weaver, 11-year- old Damon Weaver. He show know about dunking. His other big interviews for his school's TV station, Damon Wade of the Miami Heat and Vice President Joe Biden, who we hear likes Dunkin Donuts. Ba- dum-bah.
More from Tom Foreman.
WEAVER (voice-over): Hi. I'm Damon Weaver, and I'm here at the White House to interview President Obama about education.
OBAMA: Nice to meet you.
WEAVER: First I was nervous. Like, I'm nervous and I was shaking. I wanted to bring a friend but my mom told me to stop. So when I sat down my legs was trembling, and then it just stopped. Then I got relaxed and then I asked him my questions.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You asked him your first question.
WEAVER: All across America money is being cut from education. How can education be improved with all these cuts?
OBAMA: Well, you know, we've actually here in the administration tried to put more money into schools.
FOREMAN: What kind of fellow did he strike you as?
WEAVER: A nice young man that we will see in the future.
FOREMAN: Do you think he's a smart man?
WEAVER: Yes. I think President Obama is a smart guy. He's a good person with a good personality.
Now that I interviewed you, would you like to become my home boy?
WEAVER: I feel like we can be very close friends. And I thought that, since I made him my home boy, I should see him often.
FOREMAN: These are the questions you prepared ahead of time. Right?
FOREMAN: "As the president you get bullied a lot."
WEAVER: Were you ever bullied in school?
OBAMA: You know, I wasn't bullied too much at school. I was pretty big for my age.
FOREMAN: Do you think he gets picked on a lot as president?
WEAVER: Well, by Republicans.
FOREMAN: Now why do you suppose they do that?
WEAVER: Because he's a Democrat.
FOREMAN: That's it?
WEAVER: They're on different sides.
FOREMAN: I notice here he actually signed your questions on here, gave you a little autograph here.
WEAVER: Mm-hmm. I thought it was nice to have the president's autograph. I'm going to go frame it and, let's see. I might not sell it, but I might.
FOREMAN: You're not going to sell his autograph.
What -- did he strike you as what you thought a president would be like?
WEAVER: Pretty much. Mm-hmm. Yes, he did.
FOREMAN: What would you like to see him do more of?
WEAVER: I would like to see him do more outside time with his kids and his dog and his wife. Have more family time.
FOREMAN: Would you like to be president one day?
WEAVER: I would love to be president one day.
FOREMAN: Would you be a good president?
WEAVER: Pretty much, if they just serve mangoes and French fries at the -- if the chef serves mangoes and French fries.
FOREMAN: That's it. If the chef gave you mangoes and French fries you would be a good president?
FOREMAN: What would you do if you were president?
WEAVER: As president I would, like, help homeless people try to get home, and tax -- bring taxes up a little to help the homeless and the poor.
FOREMAN: What do your friends think about you going around and talking to people like the president?
WEAVER: Well, they think that is cool, but they think of me as the same way -- as the same Damon I was before I got the interviewing job.
FOREMAN: Is it a hard job?
WEAVER: Not so hard, as long as I get paid with French fries and mangoes.
FOREMAN: Everything comes back to that.
Thank you very much. We really appreciate your time.
WEAVER: You're welcome.
FOREMAN: Good luck.
WEAVER: To you too.
COOPER: I love how he likes French fries and mangoes. He's obsessed.
Coming up, my tough assignment today: chatting with Nancy Grace and her 21-month-old twins. It is tonight's...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, what you do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Plus, Bob Dylan's run-in with the law. No direction home. How does it feel? What happened to Dylan when he decided to take a walk?
COOPER: As always, a lot happening tonight. Let's get a quick check of some new headlines. Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, and we begin with an interesting piece of video. Take a look at this woman yanked from her minivan in upstate New York during a traffic stop. Tasered twice by a sheriff's deputy. This all happened with her two kids in the car. It happened back in January.
Well, the woman has now filed notice that she plans to sue the local county sheriff's department for wrongful conduct. She was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and speeding. Her lawyer says those charges were dropped after the D.A. saw this video.
The Charles Manson follower convicted of trying to kill President George -- Gerald Ford in 1975 is a free woman tonight. Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme has been released now from a Fort Worth, Texas, prison hospital after more than three decades in custody.
And a "360 Follow" tonight, Baltimore police say Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is not to blame for a car accident he was involved in last night. He will, however, be cited for driving without a license. Seems the swimmer gave cops an expired Michigan license. As for what caused the crash, cops say the other driver ran a red light. And we are just getting word of another big-name run-in with the cops. Check this out. This time legendary musician Bob Dylan. He was in Long Branch, New Jersey. Happened a few weeks ago but the report is just now surfacing. He was out for a stroll, looking at some houses before a show he was playing that night, and a 24-year-old cop approached him.
They'd gotten some calls about a guy wandering the neighborhood. She asked him his name. He said, "It's Bob Dylan." When asked for I.D., he said, "I don't have any."
The second cop arrived, also in his 20s. He didn't know who Bob Dylan was either.
HILL: But they gave him a ride to the hotel, where he was staying. The tour staff vouched for him, apparently. Everybody was very nice.
COOPER: Did you see my interview with Nancy Grace and the kids?
HILL: I was glued to the TV, my friend.
COOPER: Yes, I filled in for Larry King. We're going to play that as "The Shot" tonight.
HILL: It's good stuff.
COOPER: Yes, it is. Now our "Beat 360" winners. How about that? Our daily challenge...
HILL: That is good stuff, too.
COOPER: ... to viewers, a chance to come up with a caption better than one that we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day. So tonight's picture, White House butler Von Everett pumps up a basketball for President Obama.
Our staff winner tonight is Steve. His caption: "Hey, it could be worse. Reagan rode horses."
(SOUND EFFECT: GROANS)
COOPER: Our viewer winner is Jason from Dallas, Texas. His caption: "Republicans got guns; Democrats got balls."
(SOUND EFFECT: "Oooh!")
COOPER: Jason, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
HILL: No comment. COOPER: Coming up next, one of my most challenging interviews to date. I sat down with Nancy Grace and her 21-month-old twins. It got completely out of control. I still don't know what happened.
HILL: You're recovering still, aren't you?
HILL: You should take the weekend off.
COOPER: "The Shot" tonight is my play date with Nancy Grace's 21-month-old twins. We sat down on the set of "LARRY KING" tonight. I thought it was just going to be an interview with Nancy, and then the kids came out. And...
HILL: Totally different.
COOPER: It became something else entirely.
GRACE: Anderson, are you ready?
GRACE: Who should I try to let them -- baby, you better come hold them. Here they go -- here he goes. Here he goes.
COOPER: A walk about.
GRACE: Here he goes.
GRACE: Anderson, what did you do to him?
COOPER: I didn't do anything.
COOPER: What's the matter? Here's another fish for you.
GRACE: And of course, the stars are Lucy and John David. But you know, Anderson, try to work with two children. It's not easy.
COOPER: Tell me about it. I'm sweating here, like dripping.
GRACE: And I have a lot of help. My husband, my family helps a lot. And it's hard. And I wonder about what mothers go through who don't have help I do. I know it. Anderson Cooper did it. Mommy had nothing to do with this. Don't go to a therapist and tell them your mommy did it.
COOPER: I need a therapist after this hour. That's right. I'm making origami fish on national television. It got down to that.
HILL: I was impressed, by the way. And...
COOPER: I didn't know what else to do.
HILL: You remember that, still, from first grade?
COOPER: I learned that in first grade. And it's a trick I used all around the world with kids.
HILL: I love it.
COOPER: You make them a little origami fish, and they love it.
HILL: You add that to the "Jeopardy" champion, and I mean, really, is there anything you can't do?
COOPER: I -- I honestly had no idea what she was talking about the last ten minutes, because I was nervous, like, trying to stop these kids from, you know, getting too upset.
HILL: Right. It seemed to work fairly well.
COOPER: I -- you know, I need heavy sedation. Yes, that's what I need.
HILL: For you, not the children.
COOPER: No. Yes.
HILL: They just need French fries and mangoes, and they'll be fine.
COOPER: I'm going to sedate myself for this entire weekend to recover from that.
You can see all the most recent shots at our Web site, AC360.com. Very adorable kids.
Coming up at the top of the hour, President Obama taking some questions, defending health-care reform. Is this really his last, best chance to get what he wants? We'll be right back.