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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Cost of Health Care; Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Swine Flu Vaccine; Visa Security Gap
Aired October 12, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: The health insurance industry is taking sides very publicly, slamming the Senate's version of health care legislation, claiming the bill will cost your family $4,000 more than the status quo plan or the self-serving hatchet plan as the White House is trying to call it.
And don't ask/don't tell, then candidate Obama promising to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military under that policy. Now the president again saying -- he will get rid of it again, just the latest campaign promise either broken or not yet delivered upon. We'll have the list for you.
And Al Gore's global warming claims challenged again. His movie "An Inconvenient Truth" called one sided and full of mistakes, but won him an Oscar. Mr. Gore is now being challenged face-to-face. We will show you the confrontation over nine mistakes.
Also, swine flu fears. Who is really at risk? And is there any reason not to get the vaccine? We'll have the answers to the questions most important to you about swine flu and vaccination here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Monday, October 12th. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
A hatchet job -- that's what some Democrats are calling the report put out by the health insurance industry today. One day before the Senate Finance Committee votes on its health care legislation, a study by -- commissioned by the country's health care plans is attacking the legislation claiming it would significantly drive up the annual cost of health care for families.
The White House calls that report self serving and it is now clear that the sometime allies are decidedly on opposite sides of this debate -- Brianna Keilar reports.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back in March, the CEO of insurance industry's top lobbying group told the president at the White House. KAREN IGNAGNI, PRESIDENT & CEO, AHIP: We want to work with you. We want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good. Thank you, Karen. That is good news. That's America's health insurance plans.
KEILAR: Now America's health insurance plans says a key health care overhaul bill would cause health care costs to skyrocket 111 percent by 2016. The same report commissioned by the lobby says costs would climb only 79 percent if Congress does nothing. White House spokeswoman Linda Douglas says it is hard to take the report seriously.
LINDA DOUGLAS, WH HEALTH REFORM SPOKESWOMAN: This is an insurance industry study that is designed to benefit the insurance industry. It was paid for by them.
KEILAR: And a spokesman for the Finance Committee said the report excludes all the provisions that will actually lower the cost of coverage.
KEILAR: So why now? Why release this report a day before a key vote on this health care plan? Well Democrats certainly feel it is sabotage. But a spokesman for this industry lobby said it's not that at all. They're taking advantage of this critical moment as far as health care reform goes to make sure that there are not unintended consequences from overhauling health care, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, certainly that charge would be, I suppose, political fair game. But also, what about -- the Senate majority leader saying no matter what happens in the Senate, they're going to vote on the -- on government-run health care, the so-called public option, in conference, and that the final legislation will have that absolutely indifferent to whatever happens in the Senate.
KEILAR: There is a sense though, Lou, that even among some moderate Democrats there just may not be the support for that public option that government-run insurance plan. There are many moderate Democrats, certainly a few, a critical number who say either they just are not on board, or they have serious concerns. And we're going to start to see that play out tomorrow during the vote.
DOBBS: All right, Brianna, thank you very much. We'll look forward to it. Brianna Keilar.
As Brianna reported, the White House is slamming that critical report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers questioning the timing and calling it self-serving. But some are charging the White House is a bit self- serving itself. Just last week, President Obama hosted a health care summit at the White House. It was an invitation-only event. It was put together so doctors from across the country could be present for the photo opportunity as the president discussed health care legislation. But all of the doctors you see there -- not exactly a fair representation of doctors nationwide. Doctors for America, as they now call themselves, is actually an organization that supports government-run health care.
During the presidential campaign, they had a little different name. It wasn't Doctors for America. It was Doctors for Obama. The White House aides were even seen and photographed here as you can see, handing, handing out white lab coats to the doctors, self-serving, dramatic effect, decide for yourself as they say.
President Obama says he will make good on his campaign promise to overturn the "don't ask/don't tell" policy, the ban on gays serving openly in the military. The president addressed gay rights supporters over the weekend repeating his intention to change that policy. But as has been the case often in Washington, that may not be quite so easy. Ed Henry has our report.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let's face it, it is pretty unusual for the president to essentially serve as an opening act for pop star and gay rights activist Lady Gaga.
(MUSIC & SINGING)
HENRY: Saturday was not a typical night. Mr. Obama becoming only the second president to ever address the human rights campaigns annual diner.
OBAMA: I will end "don't ask/don't tell". That's my commitment to you.
HENRY: The most direct promise a vow to push Congress to pass legislation repealing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military. But the president disappointed some liberals by still not setting a firm deadline while conservatives are already lining up in opposition.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Well my question back to the president is why? We have got a program that is working within the military. It's been very effective.
HENRY: Some fellow Democrats are opposing the president's call to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have said in the past I don't think that's the way to go.
HENRY: This is why the president's broader theme was that change come slowly. OBAMA: It is not for me to tell you to be patient any more that it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago.
OBAMA: But I will say this -- we have made progress and we will make more.
HENRY: But there is impatience on the left, just ask Lady Gaga, who was among thousands at a national equality rally Sunday in Washington.
LADY GAGA, SINGER/ACTIVIST: Obama, I know that you are listening. Are you listening? We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality. We need change now.
HENRY: Now, I have spoken to some gay activists in the last couple of days who say the worst thing the president could do is try to rush this through, not build a consensus. It could end up backfiring and he could lose momentum on this issue, but as you can see from that tape, other activists clearly feel the president made some bold promises in the campaign has not yet moved forward on it. It has been studied and studied and they want few see some action, Lou.
DOBBS: Well they want to see action. Lots of people want to see action or they want to see some result. But again health care is another example of why there was a press for a deadline. August 1st was the deadline the president put forward. There's this peculiar sort of statement that something is going to be done and very little seems to be occurring. Is this getting to be a serious concern on the part of the White House staff?
HENRY: Well the White House staff insists they're not concerned about it because they insist the president is working at his own pace and they believe that he is going to get a lot done. But as you can see some of his own supporters are nervous because as you say there have been deadlines set, for example, on health care, deadline after deadline that's been missed on Capitol Hill.
They keep moving the goal post around and so they want to see action. They heard a lot of promises in the campaign. You know the White House will push back and say, look, a lot of people have been saying he has got too much on his plate, so he can't take something like "don't ask/don't tell" right now. That it's got to be done down the road, but again, this is part of the challenge when you make this many promises in the campaign. You say you're going to tackle so many issues. People, especially supporters who voted for you want to see action. There's a difference between campaigning and actually governing, Lou.
DOBBS: Yeah, is it a distinction that you think is becoming increasingly clearer to the staff of the president?
HENRY: Well I think it is very clear to them that they're facing pressure on, I think this is a microcosm, frankly on the gay rights issues whether it be Defense of Marriage Act or the "don't ask/don't tell", those policies. This is a microcosm of a whole range of issues where the White House staff, the president himself under great pressure to show some action. And they are certainly feeling that heat, Lou.
DOBBS: Action in this case means creating actual results, actual achievements.
HENRY: Yeah, well in this case he cannot just sign an executive order. He actually has to build a consensus on the Hill and get an actual law to overturn "don't ask/don't tell". If you go back to the first week of this administration, the president signed an executive order to close down Guantanamo Bay, the prison there, the military prison. We're now hearing a lot of people in the administration saying the deadline to close it in early January is not going to be met. So there would beep another example where there was a promise made and actually signed the first week in office has not yet been done.
DOBBS: All right, thank you very much -- Ed Henry reporting on the president. Well as Ed just suggested there are a lot of promises for this president to deliver upon that he has not. Here are just a few examples.
Then-candidate Obama announced his quote, "sunlight before signing pledge". That pledge in which he claimed he would not sign any non-emergency bill without a five-day, public review period. President Obama has already signed three major bills without any public scrutiny.
Also, President Obama promised that no lobbyists appointed to serve in his administration would be able to work on issues directly related to their previous employment for two years. The president has already granted several waivers to that promise.
And president Obama declared he would close, as Ed Henry just said, the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. The Obama administration is already conceded that deadline will not be met.
"The New York Times" big lead story today -- foreigners overstaying their visas in this country and then disappearing -- the Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement neither knowing where they are. Well, what "The New York Times" isn't telling you is the subject of what we will tell you here next.
Also analysts saying any health care overhaul would be totally incomplete without limits on medical malpractice lawsuits. So why did the president simply say, point-blank, it isn't going to happen. Is it political pay back for attorneys?
And the swine flu -- great concern tonight about vaccine shortages and questions about who is the most at risk. We will answer all of those questions here tonight. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: A warning tonight from health officials about children and swine flu -- the Centers for Disease Control now saying that a record number of children have died from the swine flu virus, the highest number since the first outbreak last spring. The CDC says all children are at risk even those who are healthy. Health officials are recommending that all children over the age of 6 months be inoculated against the swine flu. But only a third of all parents say they plan to vaccinate their children. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nineteen children died of influenza last week, 16 of the deaths from so-called swine flu. The CDC reports 76 such deaths in children since April. It says the majority had an underlying medical condition, but 30 percent did not.
DR. ANN SCHUCHAT, CDC: It is only the beginning of October. Of course the flu season often will last all the way to May and so it is very early for us to predict exactly what is going to happen in the weeks and months ahead.
PILGRIM: Compare that to the pediatric deaths for seasonal flu in the last three years. For the entire year, deaths only range from 46 to 88. The recent swine flu mortality rates for pregnant women are stunning. In the first four months of the outbreak, 100 pregnant women were hospitalized in intensive care units. Twenty-eight of them died.
The CDC Web site warns high risk groups, quote, "children less than 5 years of age are at increased risk of complications. The risk is greater among children less than 2 years old." Yet only 35 percent of parents in a recent "Consumer Reports" poll said they plan to have their child vaccinated. That ambivalence was reflected in a New York playground.
YVONNE BILL, UNDECIDED ON SWINE FLU SHOT: I just don't know if it is necessary or if it is something that is being, you know pushed by the drug companies. I mean who knows?
PILGRIM: Mike Ruotolo leans towards getting a vaccination while Laura, four months pregnant, has serious reservations.
MIKE RUOTOLO, UNDECIDED ON SWINE FLU SHOT: We don't know how it was tested. They say it was tested the same way as regular flu was tested, but it was kind of rushed and we don't want to -- she doesn't want to really go into it and I kind of want to roll the dice with it.
PILGRIM: Dr. Paul Offit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has been desperately telling parents they are risking a lot by not vaccinating their children.
DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: For someone like me who works in a hospital, who sees children come in and suffer and occasionally die knowing that we actually have something that can prevent it has been very hard watching people set that aside.
PILGRIM: Now the CDC says the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is being made the exact same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made. They haven't taken any short cuts. But doctors we spoke to today say they think that the high risk groups should get the vaccine because of the increasingly high mortality rates for children and pregnant women. Lou.
DOBBS: All right, well let's clear some of this up. First, who is the highest risk group amongst the population?
PILGRIM: Highest risk is pregnant women and also children under...
DOBBS: Let's go slowly...
DOBBS: ... because this is very important information.
DOBBS: The highest risk group is?
PILGRIM: Well they have five high risk groups, but they say among the top is pregnant women because their immune systems are depressed.
DOBBS: All right.
PILGRIM: Newborns under -- newborn to 6 months can't get any kind of protection, so they're extremely high risk.
PILGRIM: Children under 5...
DOBBS: Well there's nothing you can do about that though.
PILGRIM: Right. There isn't, but...
DOBBS: What I'm talking about is...
PILGRIM: What you can do...
DOBBS: ... what are the highest risk groups who should be looking at this vaccine?
PILGRIM: On the newborn point, though, what you can do is have other people in the family vaccinated. The other thing is children under 5 are very, very high risk group, so you should have those children vaccinated. That's what they're saying, so...
DOBBS: And the next highest group?
PILGRIM: Children under 17, the young adult population.
DOBBS: So basically everyone under 17 to 6 months.
PILGRIM: Pretty much.
DOBBS: All right, Kitty, thank you very much.
If concerns about swine flu aren't enough for parents, there is now a shortage of seasonal flu vaccine as well all around the country. About 77 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine were shipped to the United States, but doctors in at least eight states are now reporting shortages, already -- the country's largest drugstore chain, CVS and Walgreen's also reporting shortages in some cities.
The Centers for Disease Control has said that there should be enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated. That's what they say. But then they say they may have to wait a few weeks. But right now no one knows when that few weeks, when the count starts for those few weeks. This is beginning to be a very serious issue because we're not getting straight answers from our public health officials and agencies.
Turning now to the health care debate -- there is a compelling argument tonight for the inclusion of meaningful tort reform in any health care legislation that might be considered. It is something that of course the president and leading Democrats have resisted and rejected outright. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that limiting malpractice lawsuits could save as much as $54 billion over the next decade. Lisa Sylvester has our report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Congressional Budget Office report agrees with what many Republicans have been arguing. Tort reform can lower the costs of health care. First by reducing the amount doctors have to pay in medical malpractice insurance by as much as 10 percent and second by cutting down on unnecessary diagnostic tests and services, a practice known as defensive medicine. Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, a free market think-tank, says...
SALLY PIPES, PACIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE: We can see a saving -- a reduction in the federal deficit by $54 billion, which is a significant reduction in the deficit.
SYLVESTER: Some states have already implemented tort reform. Texas, for example, in 2003 capped damages from doctors to $250,000 and $500,000 from health care facilities. Plaintiffs can still seek economic damages for lost wages and medical expenses. The American Trial Lawyers Association representing lawyers who usually get a percentage of the damages awarded is downplaying the CBO report, noting that only one half of one percent of the nation's total health care spending. Mike Papantonio is a lawyer and liberal talk show radio host.
MIKE PAPANTONIO, LAWYER/RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And the person who suffers is the person who goes to a hospital has the wrong arm cut off, has the wrong leg cut off, and they say I'm sorry you have to go home. Under the new reform you simply can't recover.
SYLVESTER: Senator Orrin Hatch, a strong proponent of malpractice reform who requested the CBO study said in a statement quote "I think that this is an important step in the right direction and these numbers show that this problem deserves more than lip service from policy-makers."
SYLVESTER: President Obama throughout much of the debate over health care did not mention tort reform. It has only been within the last few weeks that he's even brought it up. He favors a much more limited approach to provide $25 million to states to develop pilot programs to improve patient safety and reduce frivolous lawsuits. Lou.
DOBBS: Yeah, I think we should point out the president outright rejected it. And the only possibility that was raised is through so- called pilot projects to examine what might happen which is the same thing as saying nothing. This is totally off the table as far as this administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress are concerned.
SYLVESTER: Right and that is why Senator Hatch used that very specific phrase, basically paying lip service that they might mention it in passing but anyone who really looks at this closely knows it is a pilot program, it's basically a study to look at something that may never actually happen, Lou.
DOBBS: It is I think what they would call, perhaps, business as usual in Washington, D.C. Thanks very much. Appreciate it, Lisa. Lisa Sylvester.
Coming up next, indoctrination or education -- parents actually taken to the streets outside a New Jersey school where children sang the praises of President Obama, we'll tell you what that was all about.
Also ahead new questions about the threat of climate change. It appears the threat isn't quite what we've been led to believe and Al Gore facing direct challenges on the issue, trying to shut down debate, and we'll be talking with the man, debating him.
Also it may be news to "The New York Times", but we've been reporting here for years on the national security threat of folks overstaying their visas. This just in to the "New York Times" -- we'll tell you about our six years of reporting here next.
DOBBS: Eight years after September 11th and the United States still has no reliable system with which to check foreign visitors and whether they ever leave the country. That security gap was highlighted recently by the arrest of terror suspect Hasseem Smotty (ph) charged with trying to bomb a skyscraper in Dallas. He didn't go back to Jordan when his visa expired and no one knew about it.
We have reported for years on this broadcast on how our national security has been compromised by those kinds of visa overstays and the fact that not one agency is capable of finding and locating those whose visas have lapsed. But one paper that claims to be the source for reliable news is catching up -- Bill Tucker with our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every year millions of people come to the United States on a variety of visa programs -- tourist visas, student visas, guest worker visas. We know when they come in, but we don't necessarily know when or if they leave, the arrest of alleged terrorist Smotty (ph) points out a gaping hole in the security of our visa program, a hole which a certain national newspaper seems to have just noticed. It finally made the first page.
(on camera): LOU DOBBS TONIGHT first reported this story in 2005.
(voice-over): We don't track when a person enters and leaves so we don't know when a person has overstayed their welcome.
(on camera): 2006.
(voice-over): The government of the most powerful nation on earth has no idea what happens to the people who enter the United States on visas or what becomes of them.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Once people enter the country through legitimate visas, they are often never heard from again and we have no procedure for tracking them.
TUCKER (on camera): 2007.
(voice-over): Visa and security experts say that while improvements have been made since 9/11 more improvements are needed and how we police them.
JACK RILEY, RAND CORP.: If there were ways of incentivizing state and local law enforcement agencies to participate in immigration enforcement the process of overstaying a visa might have a little bit more bite behind it.
TUCKER (on camera): The history with the GAO goes back much further.
(voice-over): In May of 2004, the Government Accountability Office published a report titled "Overstay Tracking: a Key Component of Homeland Security." There had been a series of reports since then warning of exactly the same thing. We know when they come in. We don't know if they leave. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TUCKER: The congressional track record is embarrassing and frightening. Since 1996 -- '96 there has been a mandate to create a program called "U.S. Visit to Track the Entry and Exit of Foreign Visitors to the United States" and there still isn't one. President Obama's 2010 budget request, Lou, does not even request funding for the program.
DOBBS: Well, it's -- our reporting on this -- your reporting goes back to -- your individual reporting goes back to what, 2005, 2004?
DOBBS: Probably a little before that. This broadcast has been reporting since 2003 on this very issue. About, by the way, 40 percent of all illegal immigrants in this country are believed to be the result of overstays on their visas. That is after visas lapsed. So we know that there are about a million -- the estimates are about a million people entering the country illegally across the borders.
And do the math on the rest of it and we can see the dimension of the problems. But neither this administration nor the previous administration or the one before that has had the -- has been forthright and acknowledged that we simply don't have the resources and a system in place to deal with these visa overstays. It is -- it's -- it is a major, major security lapse for this country. Bill, thank you very much. It was fun to see your growth through all of those periods. You didn't grow a day older either. That's what's wonderful -- Bill, thanks. Bill Tucker.
Time now for some of your thoughts; Kathryn in California -- "I have disagreed with you for years -- imagine that -- but you voice opinions based on principles that you hold consistently without regard to what political party will gain or lose from what you say. I watch you, Lou, because you dare to say what you believe." And I thank you for that.
Kathleen in Washington said "Keep up the good work. These special interest groups are upset because you inform us of what is going on." Indeed they are upset.
And Jeanne in North Carolina -- "It is time again for America to stand up and say let's get our young military men and women out of harm's way. They need to come home! Let these countries protect themselves."
To that end, I urge you to go to loudobbs.com. There awaits you a petition, which you might consider signing, in support of our troops. Dana wrote in, "Lou, President Obama watched a football game yesterday and was awarded the Heisman Trophy."
We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts. Go to loudobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book "Independents Day" and you'll receive also our brand-new "Independent American" t-shirt.
Coming up next - fallout over that video of elementary kids in New Jersey singing the praise of Barack Hussein Obama. Protestors outside the school say the sing-along was really political indoctrination. And former Vice President Al Gore confronted on his global warming claim. Some say his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" turns out not to be a truth at all. One critic taking on Mr. Gore face to face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not doing a debate here.
PHELIM MCALEER, DIRECTOR, "NOT EVIL, JUST WRONG": No. I just got this question, and he hasn't answered the question. It's (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 10 minutes left for these people to ask questions.
MCALEER: Yes, but I would appreciate his answer to the (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The man who challenged Al Gore is my guest here next. He joins us in our face-off debate on climate change and inconvenient truths.
ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Welcome back. California today is signing a deal with the Obama administration. The point? To speed up renewable energy projects in that state. It is the latest attempt to demonstrate that climate change debate could drive public policy. But some, most notably former Vice President turned filmmaker Al Gore, well he doesn't want to debate at all, as Casey Wian now reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an agreement Monday that will make the state eligible for $15 billion in federal bailout money to fight global warming and boost so-called green energy jobs.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Only with the help of Secretary Salazar we will be able to go and get those permits done by that time so we can benefit from those billions and billions of dollars.
WIAN: Yet the debate over climate change is far from settled. Former Vice President Al Gore whose 2006 Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", considered a turning point in the effort to combat climate change spoke to a group of environmental journalists Friday. He did not directly answer questions from the director of a soon to be released documentary highly critical of Gore's film.
MCALEER: A judge in the British High Courts, after a (INAUDIBLE) hearing, found there were nine significant errors. This has been shown to children. Now, have you - do you accept those findings and have you done anything to correct those errors?
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not going to go through all of those. The - the ruling was in favor of the movie, by the way, and the ruling was in favor of showing the movie in schools. And that - that's really the - the bottom line on that. There's been such a long discussion of each one of those specific things, one of them, for example, was that, polar bears - if I remember it correctly. It's been a long time ago - that polar bears really aren't endangered. Well, polar bears didn't get that word. So -
MCALEER: Well, the number of polar bears have increased, actually, and are increasing.
GORE: You don't think they're endangered, do you?
MCALEER: The number of polar bears have increased.
GORE: Do you think they're endangered?
MCALEER: The number of polar bears have increased. I mean, if - if the number of polar bears increased, surely they're not endangered.
GORE: But there weren't polar bear...
MCALLER: A judge did a (INAUDIBLE) hearing...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. That's it. We have to move on.
MCALLER: No. But - no. I mean, Vice President Gore - Vice President Gore hasn't...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not doing a debate here.
MCALEER: No. I just got this question, and he hasn't answered the question. It's (INAUDIBLE)...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 10 minutes left for these people to ask questions.
MCALEER: Yes, but I would appreciate his answer to the (INAUDIBLE).
WIAN: Conference organizers then cut off McAleer's microphone.
The dispute centers on a 2007 British court ruling that Gore's film had nine significant errors, including its assertion that ice pack melting would cause the sea level to rise 20 feet in the near future and that Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming. Gore's Spokeswoman had said in a statement earlier that the former vice president was gratified by the judge's decision saying that, "Of the thousands and thousands of facts presented in the film, the judge apparently took issue with a handful."
WIAN: Now, we looked into the polar bear question, and it is true that their numbers have increased dramatically since the 1950s, mostly though because of restrictions on hunting. Those who see climate change as a threat point to more recent declines in some polar bear populations as evidence that a warming planet threatens their existence - Lou.
DOBBS: Yes, well the actual point of contention, as I recall - I love the way that Al Gore makes it sound like that was 200 years ago. That was just two years ago, 2007. It involved four drowning polar bears. It turns out they didn't. That's sort of straightforward and a simple fact isn't it?
WIAN: Yes, and it's one of those claims that the film made that this British High Court ruled that, yes, it could be shown in the schools over there, but with the disclaimer that these nine facts asserted in the film were in error, and Al Gore didn't mention that, Lou.
DOBBS: Well - well, we did, didn't you? Appreciate it, Casey. Thanks so much. Casey Wian.
Well, the extent of the threat posed by climate change is the subject of our face-off debate tonight, and, as always, it is an emotional, a controversial issue, and the emotionalism that surround it is in and of itself fascinating - at least to me. Joining me now is Phelim McAleer. He is the director and the producer of the documentary "Not Evil, Just Wrong" - who you just saw, by the way, questioning Al Gore. Good to have you with us. And Fred Krupp. He is the president of the Environmental Defense Fund. Good to have you with us.
FRED KRUPP, PRESIDENT, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND: Good to be here.
DOBBS: I just - let's deal with the first issue. Why is something like in climate change so emotional, such a - if you will - contentious issue. It seems there are straightforward facts that would be there for everyone to either agree upon or disagree, stay away from the ambiguous and deal with the salient and the crystal clear. Why don't we do that?
KRUPP: Well, I think, just like a lot of things in Washington, Lou, climate change has become a bit of a partisan football. But now there is bipartisan pathway forward, and "The New York Times" just on Sunday, both Lindsey Graham, the Conservative Republican senator from South Carolina, and John Kerry agreed on a market-based path forward, the same sort of cap and trade system that was used so successfully in the 1990s to combat acid rain. So hopefully we're getting across that partisan divide right this week. DOBBS: All right. First of all, you were working hard to get a straightforward answer from the former vice president. What drove your - your inquiry?
MCALEER: Well, as the organizers said, this was the first time in four years he agreed to take questions from reporters. That's a disgrace. For someone who says the world is ending, the world is in crisis, that - that he wouldn't put the facts out there and take difficult questions is bizarre. I must - I must believe that he doesn't really believe the world is about to end.
So I went there to ask him. This documentary has been shown in schools across America and across the world to children who get scared about these scare tactics, and I wanted to say, you have a moral duty either to accept the judge's rulings and issue corrections or reject the judge's rulings. But you haven't the moral - you have no right to not - refuse to answer those questions.
DOBBS: What do you think?
KRUPP: Well, Lou, first of all, the vice president takes questions from reporters routinely. He took questions on September 22nd, he took questions from reporters at the UN September 24th, he took questions at this event. So, actually, after Phelim had his say, it was in a desire to take more questions that - there are other journalists who were waiting in time (ph). So the idea that he hasn't taken questions in three years is - is just wrong. He takes questions weekly.
DOBBS: All right. Let's go to a couple of things. The BBC climate reporter this weekend I think probably shook up society there a bit this weekend, talking about the fact that over the course of the - of this new millennia, young though we are, nine years into it, he begins his lead, "You may be surprised to learn that the hottest year recorded is not 2008, not 2007, nor one of the previous - the last ten years, but rather you have to go back to 1998." And I have to say, I think most people would say - what? Because they've been led to believe that the climate is warming almost daily.
KRUPP: Well, Lou, actually if you look at the trend line, it's undoubtedly - definitely rising up. There is year to year variability because of El Ninos. But when you plot the dots on the trend line, we're going up. Since 2000, all eight years, 2001 to 2008, have been eight of the 14 warmest years on record, and 2009, when the data comes in, that this decade will be the warmest decade since we've been keeping records.
MCALEER: No. That's - that's just not true. And let's be honest - the climate models, those quick climate models that say we're all going to die by 2050, missed this cooling period. In fact, if it cools much longer, it will be cooling longer than it warmed. And the same environmentalists who are now saying it is warming, 20 and 30 years ago were saying we're going to have an Ice Age. I'm old enough to be at school and I was told that we're going into a new Ice Age. So - so for them to - for these people to say, for people like Fred to say that - that the facts aren't there, it has cooled. It hasn't warmed in 13 years, and it was warmer before. Britain was warmer. We used to grow wine in Yorkshire, in Britain, you know, (INAUDIBLE) grow wine. But if they did grow wine - you know, grapes were growing there, it has been warmer before and - and these are all part of the natural variability of climate.
And, you know - and who's to say that 10 years ago the climate was perfect then? Why - why are we so obsessed with, you know, the climate is warming or cooling? You know, Helsinki is one of the coldest places on the planet. It's very rich. Singapore is one of the wealthiest places on the planet. It's very hot. Man will adapt. But it's not - this is not - you should not close down the American economy and drive jobs out of America and stop using fossil fuels for fake science.
KRUPP: The good news - the good news, Phelim, is it's not fake science. If you go to the National Academy of Sciences or look at the reports from NASA - anyone on -in our audience can go to the website - you can see that this decade has been the warmest on record.
But the good news is even if we don't convince you of that, and I hear both arguments, maybe it's not warming, and even if it is, so what? The good news is we have a common sense plan that's tried and tested in the United States, a market-based plan that will keep America in the driver's seat for the economy.
Lou, you know, China - China is...
DOBBS: Well, (INAUDIBLE) keep us in the driver's seat. I just have to interrupt you there. This is the driver's seat we're in right now?
MCALEER: Lou, it's a common sense plan by a millionaire head of an environmental organization, with big business to keep smaller competitors out. It's about regulating and keeping big business in the position it's in by these millionaire environmental organizations.
KRUPP: Not so. You know, we have a website...
MCALEER: You know, Fred - Fred earns $500,000 a year. Do the people of America want their future and their economy to be decided by a millionaire lawyer who calls himself an environmentalist working with big business, keeping competitors out and bringing in increased regulations?
KRUPP: There is a website called More Carbon - Less Carbon, More Jobs, where a series of small businesses have come out saying pass cap and trade and the cap puts a driver in place that allows...
DOBBS: So you're supporting cap and trade?
KRUPP: Supporting cap and trade, Lou, because it - it gives the economic incentives to energy efficiency that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. DOBBS: You call that a private - you call that a market solution? That is - it is extraordinarily based on government intervention in the market place. How could you call that a market solution? I'm not discussing the merits of cap and trade, but, my God, if there's - if that's not government intervention what is?
KRUPP: Yes, the government creates a market. That's true. And for these tragedies (INAUDIBLE)...
MCALEER: It's what George W. - George H. W. Bush put in place, the best of the Republican intellectual capital. It creates incentives to get new jobs for Americans.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Phil, thank you. We're just plain out of time. I hope y'all will come back soon. We need a lot more time, obviously. Thank you so much.
Up next, new questions about Secretary of State Clinton's future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you ever run for president again, yes or no?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: We'll tell you why she is laughing, next.
DOBBS: Joining me now the columnist for the "New York Daily News," CNN contributor Errol Lewis, Democratic strategist, CNN contributor Robert Zimmerman, editor-in-chief of "U.S. News & World Report," publisher of "The New York Daily News," Mort Zuckerman, who we could have added three or four more dozen titles there. Good to have you all here.
Robert Zimmerman, we just showed Hillary Clinton laughing at the question she would run for president again soon. Is that -- does that make her a shoo-in for a candidate?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She said she wouldn't run for president again too. And never is a very long time. So I think she, I am sure she meant what she said. But we'll see what the future is six years, or seven years down the road.
DOBBS: Well, going to turn -- sorry, how long?
ZIMMERMAN: Seven, in the first year of the Obama presidency.
DOBBS: You recovered that politically well.
ZIMMERMAN: She is supporting him, there's no question. DOBBS: Right before the vote, health insurance plans studied by PriceWaterhouse saying health insurance would rise by 111 percent in the next decade. This looks like a bit of a shot across the bow.
How is that? You haven't heard the cliche in a long time. What's the impact.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, as shots across the bow go, I don't know if it was all that persuasive, saying their best case scenario is that it will only go up 50 percent. That's the best they have to offer for us?
I think like most people I would say no thank you. What else have we got to talk about?
And if that's the best they're going to do, I would suggest that they start looking forward to a new regime in which their costs will be capped, that there will be competition from something called the public option, and that the world for them is going to change.
DOBBS: The Democrats are calling this a self-serving, and at the same time, the Senate majority leader is saying no matter what the fools in the Senate do, I guarantee you we'll have the public option in conference. Who's the fool?
LOUIS: I think if what they're doing to do is put forward what they did, and it had better be self-interested. If these folks are being true to their stockholders and the people who pay their salaries, it better be self-interesting.
DOBBS: We know they're all so true to the people who pay their salaries.
Turning to a very serious business, and that's Afghanistan -- this president continues to try to review what is an appropriate strategy in Afghanistan. What are your expectations? Are you hopeful? Where are you, Mort?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": We don't know what his quote, unquote, "strategy" is going to be. He had a strategy three months ago, if you recall, which was supposed to have been based on a serious analysis. It was frankly to increase -- not an anti- terrorism program but an anti-insurgent program, and made all these differences which are, as we say, slight in fact but great in politics. We don't know where it's going to come out.
I do know this. I think that part of the world is going to look carefully at what we do. It's a very complicated issue. We cannot walk away.
Maybe he's not going to go as far as his general who was trying to implement the strategy recommended because there are a lot of problems with that, but he cannot walk away from Afghanistan.
ZIMMERMAN: He's not walking away from Afghanistan. The issue is -- ZUCKERMAN: We're not talking moving away, -- he's not going to just move the troops out. But if there is a strategy there that in which he uses drones to go after terrorists, that is a --
DOBBS: We have to come right back to listen to the Zimmerman riposte. Stay with us.
DOBBS: We're back with our panel. Robert Zimmerman, don't ask, don't tell. The president says it's gone. And he says to the gay rights activists, we're with you.
ZIMMERMAN: That's what he says. That's what he said as a candidate, that's what he says as a president.
But in reality, he has not stepped up to show the leadership required to really bring it down. Obviously Congress has to repeal it. While Congress is debilitating, he could issue an executive order and stop the investigations.
DOBBS: Tomorrow the Senate finance committee votes. What do we have to look forward to?
LOUIS: Party line vote. It barely passes, and we move on to the tussle with the House to get a final bill out.
DOBBS: Is it your judgment, Mort, that this is a sensible way in which to proceed with health care, "reform"?
ZUCKERMAN: No, it is not. We are facing a huge fiscal crisis through health care. We have done very little to eliminate all the bad incentives, the incentives for doctors, hospitals, and indeed patients to run up health care costs. We have not addressed that.
And to my mind, the cost thing is absolutely the critical issue here because it could break the bank in this country.
DOBBS: Gentleman, thank you very much, appreciate it. Robert, Errol, Mort, thank you.
Coming up at the top of the hour, "Campbell Brown." Campbell, what are you working on?
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Lou.
You may know, there is an uproar over Rush Limbaugh's bid to become part owner of an NFL football team. Some players vow to boycott that team if Limbaugh succeeds. Others demanding the NF step in and try to stop any sale. We're going to get into the controversy coming up in just a moment.
Plus, our special series tonight, the brain that heals itself. We have this incredible story of a woman who was born with half a brain who is turning medical thinking upside down because what she is able to do. Also ahead, tonight's intriguing person -- we have comedian David Alan Grier -- Lou?
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Campbell. And we'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: And a reminder to please join me on the radio Mondays through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs" show, 2:00 to 4:00 on WOR-710 radio in New York. Go to loudobbs.com to get the local listings in your area.
And there you can sign up for our free daily podcast and sign up for our petition on our troops. You can't also follow me on Lou Dobbs News at Twitter.com.
And thanks for being with us here tonight. Join us tomorrow please. For all of us, thanks for watching, and goodnight from New York.
Up next, "Campbell Brown."