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CNN NEWSROOM

Twin Bombings Rattle Iraqi Government; Puerto Rico Fire Extinguished; Amnesiac to be Reunited with Family; Tea Party Express on the Road Again; Black Students Claim Bar Denied Them Entry; Dallas Police Admits Non-English Speaking Not an Offense; Heene's Former Associate Opens Up; MJ's Big Screen Finale; U.S. Bank Failures Reach Grim Milestone

Aired October 25, 2009 - 22:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, at least 132 people dead from the worst bombing attack in Iraq in a year. What does it mean for troop levels in the war on terror?

The flames and plumes of smoke have subsided in Puerto Rico, but big worries there tonight about what those clouds of chemicals did to the people and the environment. The president has declared it a federal emergency zone.

The Tea Party Express on the road again just as the administration felt it was making progress on health care reform. Now what?

Roaming the big streets of a big city with no memory of who she was. A CNN viewer recognized her and a reunion with her father could happen tonight.

College students denied entry to a Chicago bar. Was it baggy jeans or the color of their skin? We talk to one student who said it was racism.

And a confession of a hoax from the balloon boy's mother. Tonight, for the first time we hear from one of the dad's associates who claims Richard Heene tried to convince him to do a similar stunt, and he has the e-mails to prove it. He joins us live.

And the president plays golf with a woman. We'll tell you why this is a headline tonight.

Hello, everyone, I'm Don Lemon. We begin with a massive and deadly attack killing hundreds of people in an instant, and now threatening to cripple an entire nation's political future. At least 132 people had killed in Baghdad when twin car bombs exploded near three government buildings. More than 500 people were injured.

(VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That devastation covers a wide area not far from the heavily guarded green zone that houses the U.S. embassy. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is at the scene for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here in the heart of Baghdad where two suicide car bombs exploded earlier this morning targeting government buildings. Right behind me you see the Ministry of Justice. The explosion went off at 10:30 a.m. this morning local time. And damaged also in that attack right across from the Ministry of Justice is the Ministry of Municipalities. Now the scene around, this is one of devastation. People milling around. We've seen people going, screaming, crying into the arms of their loved ones. We've seen people picking up body parts.

This attack happened at the time when it was very, very busy in central Baghdad today. Where you have the most amount of people, and really this is something that probably maximized the amount of casualties that took place today.

Now the second explosion happened just a minute after the first explosion. It happened a few hundred meters down the road at the Baghdad governor offices. Now we're seeing around us here today every type of security apparatus. We're seeing Iraqi security forces, Iraqi army, Iraqi police and firemen and ambulances. We're also seeing a lot of U.S. troops. They are here to assess the situation and find out more about what happened.

Mohammad Jamjoom, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Those attacks have raised new questions about the Iraq government's ability to secure the country ahead of the national election scheduled for January. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has visited the scene of the attacks to see the devastation first hand, and he vowed to punish what he called enemies of the Iraqi people who in his words are trying to derail the political process.

President Barack Obama is condemning the Baghdad attacks, and promising the U.S. government support for Iraq and its people.

Our Elaine Quijano in Washington with more on this - Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this afternoon President Obama spoke by phone with both Iraq's president as well as Iraq's prime minister. Mr. Obama expressed his condolences and reiterated that the United States is committed to standing with the Iraqi people.

Now, in a written statement, President Obama said that "These attempts to derail Iraq's progress are no match for the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people and their determination to build strong institutions. The United States will stand with Iraq's people and government as a close friend and partner as Iraqis prepare for elections early next year."

Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a similar statement. She called the bombings despicable terrorist attacks and said they would not undermine the progress that Iraq has made towards stability. She also said that those responsible for these bombings must be brought to justice in accordance with Iraqi law.

Don?

LEMON: Elaine, thank you very much for that.

In Iran, U.N. inspectors have begun their mission to try to uncover any secrets at a long hidden nuclear fuel lab. They entered the bunker-like factory today, taking environmental samples to check for the presence of nuclear materials. The existence of the uranium enrichment plant stunned the international community last month, but Iran says it's just trying to produce energy for the public.

A holy city torn by riots in the shadow of a shrine.

(VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: In Jerusalem, some two dozen masked Palestinian protestors were injured in a brawl with Israeli police. Nine policemen were slightly injured. About 200 of the demonstrators eventually sought cover in a religious compound. They were hold up inside a mosque for about five hours before 18 were arrested. Tonight Jerusalem remains on edge because history shows violent flare-ups can quickly evolve into long-standing conflicts.

Firefighters in Puerto Rico have finally managed to put out that massive fuel depot fire that raged for three days near San Juan. Federal investigators are on the scene trying to determine if someone caused the fire intentionally. Raphael Romo is there for us tonight.

RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Don, it took almost three days, but now the fire is finally over. And now it's time for investigators to determine if this was an accident or if this gasoline storage facility was the scene of a crime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO (voice-over): For the first time the media is granted access to the gasoline storage facility where a firestorm raged for two and a half days darkening the skies of Bayamon sending hundreds fleeing.

This is ground zero, the site of a massive coordination effort by 1,000 police and federal law enforcement to secure the area as 350 firefighters worked around the clock to contain the fire. With the blaze finally extinguished, now the focus turns to the investigation. 30 agents from the FBI and ATF are assisting police in Puerto Rico to determine what may have caused the fire.

LUIS FRATICELLI, FBI SPECIAL AGENT FOR PUERTO RICO: We don't know if it's a crime scene. We don't know if it's accident, so we're not making any determinations at this point until our experts do the work, do their analysis, and then provide input to us as to what they feel happened here.

ROMO: But there's also work to be done to try and bring life back to normal for the more than 600 area residents still in nearby shelters. Puerto Rico's governor, Luis Fortuno, on a tour of the shelter assuring evacuees that their health and safety is his primary concern.

GOV. LUIS FORTUNO, PUERTO RICO: Water was always safe. Air was always safe. We were concerned about nearby water bodies, however, and I believe that we have been able to contain any type of environmental situation stemming out of this accident.

ROMO: The governor takes an extra step to show his commitment as his visit also makes for an emotional photo op. He delivers a special surprise to one 8-year-old girl who had to flee her home.

The girl is overcome with emotion as she is reunited with Brandy, the dog she had to leave behind when she and her family took refuge from the blaze. For Luz Marie Santana a moment of solace in the midst of uncertainty. And for the governor, much more work to be done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMO: Governor Fortuno says all schools and roads will re-open tomorrow. He also says they have enough gasoline for 24 days even without any shipments from this facility.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Bayamon, Puerto Rico - Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Rafael.

A developing story out of Florida this hour where a man accused of profiting in a very big way from Bernie Madoff's investment schemes is found dead in his pool.

Breaking tonight, new details including the name of the teenage girl who turned up in Times Square suffering from amnesia.

And the balloon boy case. The associate of father, Richard Heene, joins me live to talk about the case. When was the plan hatched to try to trick the world to get a reality TV show?

And we want to hear from you. You can get us on those social networking sites right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The man accused of being the biggest beneficiary of Bernie Madoff's investment scheme has been found dead in his Palm Beach, Florida swimming pool. Philanthropist Jeffrey Picower was found today by his wife and rush to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Picower claimed to have lost money in Madoff's phony investments, but as the author Andrew Kirtzman told me of this book earlier, he said that he had been accused of making billions in Madoff's financial schemes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR, "BETRAYAL: THE LIFE & LIES OF BERNIE MADOFF": Jeffrey Picower was seen as a very sympathetic figure, someone who had trusted Bernie Madoff for 20 years and had lost his shirt to a friend. It only emerged later that Picower had made so much money off of Bernie Madoff, and you know there were phantom trades that are alleged by the court-appointed trustee, things that indicated that Picower might have known more than at first suspected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And Kirtzman wrote a book about the Bernie Madoff scandal. Police are saying that they are investigating Jeffrey Picower's death, which they say is standard in any suspected drowning.

A young Jane Doe found wandering two weeks ago in Times Square has been identified. Police in New York say she is 18-year-old Casey Ellis Peterson of Haynesville, Washington. They say the young woman's mother is dead and her father is heading to New York tonight. Officer say a CNN viewer in Maryland identified the young woman.

Susan Candiotti has been covering the unusual story for us. And I spoke to her just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, apparently, she had been living with a family friend at the time she disappeared, Susan, right?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Our affiliate, KOMO, in Seattle tells us that that's what her family is saying. That she had been living with this friend at some point after her mother died. She moved out of the father's house and she began living with this friend. She was also attending high school, but only taking a few classes.

LEMON: Was she reported missing?

CANDIOTTI: Yes. Her dad did go to the police back on October 1st, and then police told him that they were following some bank activity and other evidence. And for that reason police said they did not issue an amber alert. So maybe that explains why there was an apparent disconnect when she went missing here in New York, but no other police department seemed to know about it.

LEMON: Yes, it's a fascinating story that everybody has been talking about. So what happens to her now?

CANDIOTTI: Well, right now, her father is said to be on his way to New York City for a possible reunification, of course, but clearly she needs some counseling police say, and they're asking a lot of questions about her, her background, and her family and what kind of circumstances she's slipping in, whether she can go back home.

LEMON: And, you know, since you said that, has she done this before? Is there history of this?

CANDIOTTI: There is. According to her family, she has disappeared occasionally and had bouts of amnesia. At one point they found her lying by a stream. So, obviously, she needs some help. LEMON: All right. Susan Candiotti in New York. Thank you, Susan.

Bar owners call it a dress code. A group of students call it something else. The accusations against a Chicago nightclub and why the club says it's all a big misunderstanding.

And getting a traffic ticket for not speaking English. A family calls a news conference to react. We'll hear what they had to say.

Plus, the biggest Baghdad bombing in over a year. We'll assess the political aftershocks in Iraq and Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: H1N1, also known as swine flu, is now widespread in 46 states. It's already infected millions of people in the U.S. and killed about 1,000. That's why President Obama on Friday declared a national emergency over the emerging pandemic. The declaration is necessary to remove red tape and other bureaucratic obstacles so public health officials can respond more rapidly to outbreaks. Lawmakers of both parties today promise all necessary resources to the White House to deal with the urgent health issue.

There's a new wave of optimism among Senate Democrats for health care reform. Party leaders say they're closing in on 60 votes. It's a magic number to push forward, and they're confident they can make it happen with some form of the controversial public option. But GOP leaders still say the American people are not on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The more moderate Democrats, there are some who actually like it, as long as it's a level playing field, they're comfortable with it. There are others who say that I'm not sure I like it, but I won't hold up passage of the bill. I think we're very close to getting the 60 votes we need to move forward, and my guess is that the public option level playing field with the state opt out will be in the bill.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: So holding aside from the debate over whether the government gets into the insurance business, the core of the proposal is a bill that the American public clearly does not like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So the public option back from the brink? Let's get some perspective on this from CNN political editor Mark Preston in D.C. and April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks in Owingmill, Maryland.

So, OK, back from the brink. I don't know -- who do we believe here, Mark? You know, let's start talking about this. Because they said they're closing in on the magic number, but they say some form of the public option. What does that mean? MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you know, because we don't exactly know what it's going to look like at the very end. We heard Chuck Schumer just talking about there, Don, was the opt out measure. This is something that our own colleague Dana Bash was reporting today, and that's the fact that Harry Reid tomorrow could include this provision that would allow states to opt out of this public option provision that has been bandied around here in town.

He would put it into the Senate bill. That's the bill that would be taken to the Senate floor. Now what this does tell us is that this pressure from the liberal base of the Democratic Party is really getting to the Democratic leadership in the Senate. They at least want to make it appear, Don, that they are for or at least will give some airing to the idea of a public option in this health care bill.

LEMON: OK. So you know what, April? We've been talking, us, on this show every Sunday night about, you know, health care, public option and no public option. That was the intent all along from the president and from the administration when they went ahead with health care reform. So that's a question, public option, no public option. Is it going to happen? And will the administration be OK with it if it comes out there's no public option?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, number one, the public option, the mandate for the public option is to cover everyone. But either way, the way you're scanning it, whether it's akin to the public option or the public option, the president will sign a bill hopefully Democrats are saying that they're going to get a compromise in some kind of way. But the president will sign it. I mean, you're getting things again possibly opting out for states. But that is something similar to the public option, so he will sign it.

LEMON: OK. A compromise. All right. Well, we'll have to see what exactly that compromise means.

So, Mark, you know, timing is everything. We've been talking about the public option here. The Tea Party Express back on the road. So what does that mean for the administration, if anything?

PRESTON: Well, you know, Don, the Tea Party Express, of course, is this second bus tour that's taking off from San Diego today, and it's going to go across country and will end up in Orlando on November 12th.

But what the tea party express is, it's really the foundation of the very vocal opposition that we saw, you know, throughout the year but really, really coming to a head over the summer when you had all these very conservative Republicans come out, show up at these town hall meetings across the country and say, look, we don't agree with this health care plan.

And that's when we really saw problems, you know, with the Democrats and with President Obama trying to get this through Congress. So, what we'll see, you know, over the next couple of weeks is we'll see across the country activists coming out and really expressing their displeasure with it. It will be interesting to see if they can persuade their congressmen and their senators through the local media to oppose President Obama's plan.

LEMON: OK. We shall see to that in the weeks ahead there in California now and by week's end, they're going to start making their way across country.

Our top story tonight, April, was this big bomb blast in Iraq and more than 130 people have died. Of course, the president is contemplating sending more to Afghanistan now and withdrawing troops from Iraq.

So, what does this mean? Is this a game changer in that strategy?

RYAN: Well, I talked to someone in the administration just a few minutes ago. They said, look, it's horrific what happened, but it makes us once again push for the Iraqi police forces and authorities to strengthen its protection and policing units.

But then, I also talked to people on the Hill who said, look, it makes the president look at options on the table because this could be a foreshadowing on Iraq of things to come.

So, you know, it all depends on what happens in the near future -- who will weigh out, the president, the White House, or people on the Hill and their thinking on this.

LEMON: OK. Mark, real quickly, anything you want to add to that?

PRESTON: No. I mean -- I mean, look, this is obviously a major issue right now that the president has to deal with and add to that, Afghanistan, add to that, all the domestic issues. It just shows you there's a lot on his plate.

LEMON: OK. All right, Mark.

So, listen, April, on a lighter note, the president played golf with a woman today. Why is that a headline? What's going on here?

RYAN: It's a major deal. It's big event than just that. The issue is Washington is a white male-dominated fraternity, and historically it has been much. And going back in history, Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House press corps, says it's been so much of a problem that back when President Kennedy was president, he boycotted the White House Correspondents Association dinner because women were not allowed to attend. They were allowed to be a member of the association, but not allowed to attend. So once he boycotted, women were allowed.

So, this is -- it's a bigger picture involving bringing women into the mix. They are part of the playing field at the White House and in Washington.

LEMON: And, Mark, you know, on our little conference call tonight, you know, April got really heated. She said, yes, this is an important story, Don.

RYAN: It is.

LEMON: And you say it's important because what, Mark?

PRESTON: Well, I mean, look, Sonia Sotomayor becomes a Supreme Court justice, Hillary Clinton is secretary of state, Valerie Jarrett is a senior adviser, Sebelius is at HHS. These are all women in the Obama administration.

LEMON: And this Melody Barnes, who is in his administration.

PRESTON: And Melody Barnes as well who played golf today. Look, here's why it's an interesting story. Look, it's a distraction. It's not a major story, but it is a story because the fact is the Obama administration should not have let this get out of hand, you know.

RYAN: I disagree with Mark.

PRESTON: They should have been more sensitive to the fact that on the weekends -- well, look, that on the weekends, the president should have at least brought along a woman to play golf or basketball, whatever, they're going to do, to show that he's totally open.

LEMON: OK. All right. April, you'll be playing basketball next. Mark, maybe you'll be golfing. Thank you.

RYAN: No, soccer, soccer.

LEMON: I'll see you guys next week. Thank you very much.

RYAN: Bye.

LEMON: The controversial Michael Jackson film comes out this week, and a lot of people can't wait to see it. But a lot of others say what's not in the movie is what matters most. I'll talk about it with Tom O'Neil of "In Touch Weekly."

And the balloon boy case. An associate of father Richard Heene joins me live. He says it was a hoax from the beginning and he knew it. When was that plan hatched to try to trick the world to get a reality TV show? He says he's got the e-mails to prove it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. A big story in Chicago and if you check online, this is getting a lot of play here. We're talking about a dress code. Was it dress code? Or was it racism?

Students from Washington University in St. Louis made a senior class trip to Chicago last weekend. Well, part of the trip involved going to a downtown nightclub, and that's where the trouble started. Six African-American students say they were denied entry.

The bar, it's called the Original Mother's Nightclub, says it was because they were wearing baggy pants, right? But the students say it was racism because white patrons were wearing the same kinds of clothing and they were allowed in.

We attempted to get a comment from the nightclub tonight, but they did not return our calls. The class treasurer, though, his name is Regis Murayi, he was among those who was turned away and he joins us now by phone.

Hi, Regis. So, here's the interesting thing -- that this was a planned class trip with 200 people, and all of you guys were supposed to be on a list to get into the club. Am I correct?

REGIS MURAYI, SENIOR CLASS TREASURER, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY (via telephone): The club knew that we were coming. They didn't have the individual -- they didn't have the names individually laid out, but they did know that we were coming as a class and as a group.

LEMON: So, what happens once you get there?

MURAYI: Once we get there, initially, the first person in the line with the group I came with was denied entry. So at that moment, I stepped outside of the line, walked to the front, introduced myself, Regis Murayi as treasurer, senior class council and introduced -- said that we were Washington students, we were here for the, you know, Washington special night, and we were just trying to get in, trying to negotiate the situation and see what the problem was.

LEMON: What did they say?

MURAYI: He said -- the manager that I was speaking to said that we weren't going to be allowed to get into the bar. That our pants were too baggy and that, you know, we violated the dress code policy.

LEMON: And were there people there? Because there's a picture of a man, there's a white guy there and he has some baggy pants and then there's a picture of you. Were your pants baggier than other people? Were you dressed inappropriately do you feel?

MURAYI: Yes. I'm very sure we weren't dressed inappropriately. It's actually a very interesting story about the white guy that's in the picture. He's actually wearing my pants. He actually later on he went back to the hotel, we did a switch of pants and he put my pants on.

Keep in mind, this guy is about three inches shorter than me and probably close to 40 or 50 pounds lighter than me. But he went back to the bar later on that evening with the same manager, same bouncer at the door, and was able to just walk in while actually making jokes with the bouncer about not paying for the people behind him.

LEMON: OK. So, have you heard anything from the bar?

MURAYI: Have not heard anything from the bar. LEMON: And what do you do next?

MURAYI: Well, we're doing a lot next. We're trying to figure out how to best approach the situation. We filed some complaints with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, also with the Department of Justice, the federal Department of Justice. And so we're also looking to pursue legal action.

But also, within campus -- on campus, we're trying to inform students about what happened and really open a discussion about race in America, what a lot of people think is a post-racial society. So, we have an open forum on campus tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. where we're going to discuss the issues.

LEMON: OK, Regis, let us know. Regis Murayi who was there. And I'm going to let you go, Regis. I'm just going to read this statement from the bar here. We just got it. This is according to -- we called them tonight. But this is -- we wanted to get this on. This is from the "Chicago Tribune."

The bar management says, "It takes the issue very seriously. Consequently, we are conducting a detailed investigation of the event this past Saturday evening to determine what happened and why. And if anything inappropriate was done or said by anyone employee or affiliate with Original Mother's, we will take appropriate disciplinary action against the people involved." And it goes on to say that to make sure that similar things don't happen in the future.

We're going to follow this story as well and bring you the details here on CNN.

There's no law against driving a private vehicle if you don't speak English. But this woman was one of nearly 40 people in Dallas, Texas issued traffic tickets on that charge over the past several years. We first told you the story last night.

There is a federal law requiring driver to speak and read English, but it only applies to drivers of commercial vehicles. Now, the misapplication of the law to drivers of private vehicles has prompted Ernestina Mondragon to hire an attorney to sue the city. She and her daughter appeared at a news conference a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENDA MONDRAGON, MOTHER GIVEN TICKET FOR NOT SPEAKING ENGLISH: She said she got pulled over for doing an illegal u-turn. And then I read the ticket, and I noticed that there were three offenses. And the first one was for the illegal u-turn. The second one was for not having her driver's license on her. And the third one was for being a non-English-speaking driver.

So, I basically told my mom that she had got a ticket for not speaking English. She was worried that now every time she drives and, you know, she gets pulled over, she's going to get another ticket for not speaking English. So, I called the number on the back of the ticket to find out the fees. And the guy who answered the phone, I don't recall his name, when I told him - he asked me for the offenses. I told him all of them and for the non-English speaking, he said, I'm not sure about that one, let me check, hold on.

He put me on hold for about two minutes, came back and said, well, you could get a ticket for being a non-English-speaking driver and it's going to be 204.

So, I told my mom that it was going to be 204, and she was stressing. She's unemployed, so she was stressing how she was going to pay that. So, I told her I would take care of it for her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the Dallas police chief apologized for that error. Again, that press conference happening just a short time ago. The police chief apologized for the error, and all such tickets will be dropped and those who have already paid the fine will be reimbursed.

Is a knife the proper way to motivate a high school football team? Probably not. And it's got one coach in some very hot water.

And a beautiful day for a picnic brings traffic to a halt in one of the most famous bridges in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So, here we go.

Police say the balloon boy story is quickly deflating, thanks to his mom's confession. Mayumi Heene reportedly told sheriff's deputies that while the world was watching that helium-filled balloon last week, she and her husband knew all along that six-year-old Falcon was safe at home. The affidavit also says the couple told the kids to lie about it to reporters and to police.

The sheriff says he will recommend charges against Richard and Mayumi Heene, and some of them are felonies that carry a maximum sentence of up to 6 years in prison.

And a lot of people started suspecting that this was a publicity stunt early on. And for many of them, Richard Heene's former researcher was the man who burst the bubble here, because there was a story about him. He had e-mails that were similar to the hoax that we saw pulled out -- pulled off.

OK. So, Richard -- Robert Thomas sold his story to the gossip Web site Gawker. He's joining us live from Denver along with his attorney Linda Lee. Linda Lee is here to make sure that he doesn't get himself into trouble here.

Thanks to both of you. I know you've been traveling a lot, and you have been in the media spotlight, Robert.

So, take us back to May, right? You start -- you start an e-mail conversation with Richard Heene, and what took place?

ROBERT THOMAS, RICHARD HEENE'S FORMER RESEARCHER: So, I met Richard because he had a show called "The Science Detectives." And, you know, at first, it seemed like a worthy prospect. You know, I was someone interested in delving into scientific research and trying to, you know, better humanity.

So, I sent him an e-mail in March and kind of reached out to him and started kind of working as his intern or protege, whatever you want to call it, basically doing grunt work for him. One of those thinks was writing a proposal for a reality series, and in that proposal is basically a blueprint of what took place.

LEMON: And so, when you -- in the proposal you said what, it was -- he made you write out a number of different proposals and I think number 16 on your proposal was a balloon, right?

THOMAS: Yes, yes. So, number 16. There were 52 in this particular proposal. So one episode idea per week. And number 16 of it basically said let's create a fake flying saucer and facilitate a global media hoax with some controversy. It will be a great way to get the Heene family's name, you know, nationwide and around the world in the media. And it will be a great way to raise awareness about the UFO phenomenon, about the Heene family, the reality show.

LEMON: So, when you see this, you know, this balloon flying around on all the media networks and then you realize it's Richard Heene, what do you do?

THOMAS: Oh, God. Well, at first, you know, I saw this on mute, so I didn't realize the seriousness of the whole thing. I was just laughing. I'm like this, a giant Jiffy Pop flying across the country.

And then as I got home and started to kind of settle down and look on YouTube and see what was going on, I started to really take a different perspective, you know. I mean, I went from being thoroughly amused to being pretty mad, especially watching him make his kids lie.

You know, I mean, I've baby-sat his children before. I know them. They're great kids. And to make them do something like this, I mean, you can't make a 6-year-old become a little puppet for the media for your own agenda.

LEMON: So, you knew right away, you felt right away that they were lying?

THOMAS: Yes. I found it extremely unlikely that this would manifest without, you know, some prior knowledge.

LEMON: Did you contact police or authorities?

THOMAS: I did, actually. I called the police, and I met with them at District 3 in Denver and sat down with them for about an hour and a half and gave them all the information that I have.

LEMON: You did. OK. So, you're mentioned in the affidavit. They wanted to get all the information because of these e-mails that we have seen on Gawker. And so they want to get in touch with you.

Linda, are you worried about any exposure to your client here because number 16 was this hoax?

LINDA LEE, ROBERT THOMAS' ATTORNEY: You know, I spoke with the deputy or the chief district attorney in this case, Chief Riddle (ph), and he assured me that my client would not face any sort of -- he assured me that my client would not face any sort of prosecution.

He said and I quote, from the bottom of my heart, he was not looking at my client for any charges. However, as his attorney, obviously aware of the law, I do want to make sure that, you know, immunity is something we do receive. However, conspiracy requires an agreement.

LEMON: And your client -- could your client had not -- Robert, you hadn't been in touch with him for a while. You guys sort of have a falling out, right?

THOMAS: Yes. He got a little outlandish with some of his theories, you know, on reptilian shape-shifting aliens, and...

LEMON: What was his - what was his state like? What was his mental state like? I mean, in your estimation. I know that you're not a doctor, but what sort of personality should I say he had when you met him?

THOMAS: Highly energetic, you know, maybe adult ADHD, but definitely had some tendencies towards bipolarism. You know, he would...

LEMON: What do you mean by that?

THOMAS: I mean, one minute he would be very calm and collected and the next he would just snap and lose his temper and, you know, things would be flying around. The dog would be barking. He'd be screaming. You know, it was really a chaotic environment.

LEMON: You spent -- how much time did you spend with him?

THOMAS: Approximately two months.

LEMON: I know that you know a lot about the family. Is there anything that, you know, that I didn't ask you because I don't know. I'm not up on all the details as Wolf Blitzer is, who did the original interview with the family. So, anything new that we should know about, about that family?

THOMAS: Well, I do have a lot of information that I haven't shared yet with the media. And the reason for that is because I'm helping the police with their investigation and I really don't want to, you know, interfere with that until the time is right.

LEMON: Can you give us an idea of what it is without specifics, if you can? THOMAS: Yes, I can. I can just kind of summarize it by saying that it relates to Richard's relationship with Mayumi, and, you know, I'll kind of leave it at that.

LEMON: OK. And what about the children? There was nothing -- was there any odd behavior with the children? Because I think that's what America is -- really the world is concerned with -- with the children now.

THOMAS: Well, I mean, odd behavior with the kids, I mean, I think they need to learn some manners absolutely and, you know, they need some sort of a figure that's going to regulate their life and put them in a place that, you know, can guide them towards success.

That being said, I'm actually working on setting up a Web site right now called karmaspin.org. And it's going to be a charity nonprofit Web site. And I want to tell, you know, everyone out there that's watching that this would be a great opportunity to make donations and, you know, set up a fund for these kids.

LEMON: OK. So you want to help the children out.

THOMAS: Yes.

LEMON: Robert Thomas, thank you so much. His attorney, Linda Lee.

LEE: Thank you.

LEMON: We appreciate you joining us here on CNN. So you guys have a great evening. Hopefully, we will be speaking with you soon.

THOMAS: Absolutely.

LEMON: These guys -- he spent a lot of time with Richard Heene. And obviously he's not a doctor, he's just making an estimation of his personality, what he saw during their relationship when they did -- when they were speaking.

OK. So, that voice, those moves, the essence that was Michael Jackson or MJ as they call it. "This Is It," a big screen finale for an entertainer bigger than mine.

And a monumental push to find a cure for breast cancer. Why the pyramids are going pink this weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Michael Jackson may be gone, but his legacy will probably live forever. On Wednesday, Jackson's fans will be flocking to theaters to see "This Is It," the documentary film and put together from the rehearsal footage on Michael Jackson's rehearsing this summer for his tour. And like everything else Jackson touched, it probably will turn into solid gold. And this is a big story for, you know, all the Hollywood press including "In Touch Weekly," so that's why we want to bring in Tom O'Neal. He's a senior editor. He joins us now from New York.

So, Tom, what's all the controversy around this? Was it Michael Jackson? Was it Michael Jackson? Is it a body double? Was he healthy? Was he too skinny? I mean, what's going on here?

TOM O'NEIL, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": This documentary shows us a robust, healthy Michael. And, come on, one of the great mysteries lingering after his death was could he have done those concerts?

Remember, initially, he was scheduled for only ten, then there were reports he was bamboozled into 50. And people said, no, he's too frail, he could never have done it. Well, now, brought to us by the producers of that concert, we see this really great-looking Michael.

But now we hear reports that body doubles were used. We hear that, you know, audiotapes were used over Michael singing here to make him look good.

LEMON: I don't know. Was it video sort of digitized to make him look healthy? I mean, you can do that, too, but I don't know.

O'NEIL: Well, 120 hours of rehearsal footage was used to make two hours, like, yes, you could kind of whittle it down here. What's really interesting is there's a flock of fans that was trailing Michael all the time, right, from his 2005 molestation trial all the way up until he died. And they talked to Michael all time. They said this is not it, and that's the name of the Web site they set up.

LEMON: This-Is-Not-It.com. And I'm reading a note here that says Joe and La Toya Jackson claim that "This Is It," it's a sham packed with body doubles and fake singing on tape and then it mentions that Web site.

So, then, what's next here? I mean, how do you figure out if it's real or not? Or does it even matter? Does it just add intrigue to make people go see it anyway?

O'NEIL: You're right. That's it right there.

LEMON: OK. Good talking to you, Tom.

O'NEIL: But what makes -- what makes the intrigue really interesting is that Joe Jackson and La Toya are among those who said that body doubles are being used here and there is a Michael Jackson impersonator in Britain who backs them up and says he was asked to be part of this and he said no way.

And here's where it gets really interesting. The money, right?

LEMON: Yes.

O'NEIL: The family probably made about $24 million up front on this and is going to make a lot more down the line. Some family members are going to be there on Wednesday at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles when this debuts officially. Which family members are going to be there?

LEMON: Yes.

O'NEIL: You know, why are some family members turning against this thing and some of them behind it?

LEMON: Well, I heard -- I think it was La Toya or someone saying that she's not going to see it, but in order to know what he looks like, then you wouldn't have had to have seen it?

O'NEIL: OK. I think so, yes.

LEMON: OK. Tom O'Neil, "In Touch Weekly," great one hour left of your weekend. Enjoy it, OK, my friend. See you. Thanks.

O'NEIL: See you later.

LEMON: OK. So, forget unsportsmanlike behavior on the gridiron. This is downright dangerous.

An assistant high school football coach in Lakeland, Florida allegedly pulled a pocketknife on a player. Police say 30-year-old Christopher Campbell took the knife to practice on Wednesday telling the Kathleen High School team, quote, "Don't try me today." He's facing some very serious charges in Polk County including assault with a deadly weapon.

The nation's bank failures hit the 100 mark and they just keep climbing. We'll tell you about the latest banks to collapse and we'll preview the week ahead on Wall Street.

And an amazing rescue at a coal mine in China. A survival story that you have to see to believe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A big week ahead for Wall Street. A lot of earnings numbers and government reports to keep an eye on. Durable goods orders will be released on Wednesday along with the consumer confidence index for October. And then on Thursday, we'll get the first reading on the third quarter Gross Domestic Product. It's expected to show the economy grew more than 3 percent.

Meantime, a new and grim milestone -- the 100th U.S. bank failure this year, and the number just keeps climbing. There were three failures in Florida and one each in Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois on Friday, boosting this year's total failures to 106 nationwide. That is the most since 1992 during the savings and loan crisis.

A beautiful day for a picnic, but why are all of these people doing it on one of the most famous bridges in the world - Jacqui. JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It might have been nice in Australia there, Don, but not so nice in Texas tonight. The latest on severe storms that are rumbling through the area plus your Monday forecast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, Jacqui, we have had some severe weather throughout the country. Some cold, but then there's rain as well, especially in Texas. The commute, that's what most people want to know right now. What's going to happen?

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Jacqui. We appreciate the advice -- wear a jacket.

All right. Plenty of pink set against a dramatic backdrop this weekend. The Egyptian pyramids. Breast cancer survivors and their supporters raced in Egypt, the first international breast cancer fundraiser of its kind in the Middle East. More than 7,000 people showed up. Traditionally, breast cancer has been a taboo topic in Egypt, but the race is seen as evidence that the attitude is beginning to change.

The Sydney Harbor Bridge is usually jammed with cars. You know what? But today it was jammed with blankets and picnic baskets and little kiddies, as you could see there. Real grass was laid across all eight lanes for that one day festival they held there. About 6,000 people took advantage of the chance to nosh atop one of the city's most famous landmarks and the world's most famous bridge. Organizers spent about $1 million and say they might make it an annual event.

One man was so inspired by the view that he popped the big question to his girlfriend, and luckily she said yes. Again, it's the best of all picnics -- on top of the bridge.

Eight days trapped underground. Can you imagine that? Three Chinese miners didn't just survive it, they're up and walking about. And we've got the amazing pictures for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In northern China, three coal miners, who were trapped for eight days underground, have been rescued. The three were stuck when a mine shaft collapsed. They survived six days in an area with ventilation and a water source before rescuers could get food to them. The three are reported to be in stable condition tonight. No word yet on what caused the mine to collapse.

Can you imagine that? Being stuck there for that many days?

Let's see. I want to get some of your tweets on. We have a little bit of time here. OK. I'm reading these.

Nickguillory says, "Don Lemon, rock on."

This is a very interesting one. "Don, lots of focus on the parents of this balloon, but where's the attention to the kids that have been obviously manipulated?"

And another one, "That whole dress code thing isn't anything new. Fred's and Reggie's just outside LSU did the same thing."

I remember that story a little while back.

All right, guys. Hey, you can always get us on the social networking sites. Thanks for joining us tonight. Had a great time spending it with you. I'm Don Lemon, CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. See you back here next weekend. Good night.