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Tiger Woods Announces Indefinite Leave of Absence from PGA; Growing Medical Marijuana; Loopholes in Health Care

Aired December 12, 2009 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody from the CNN center. This is CNN Saturday morning. It is a cold December 12th in many parts of the nation. Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. Thanks for starting your day here with us. Tiger Woods is leaving the game of golf indefinitely. We have no idea when he might return. People asking is this the right move to make right now? Maybe a right move for his family, but what about for his career, what about for the game of golf as well, what about the sponsors? We're going to be getting into some of those questions. Also getting your response, your answers to some of those questions. You know where to find Betty and I on twitter, on Facebook as well. Send us your comments. We'll share them throughout the morning. What do you think about Tiger Wolf -- Tiger Wolf, Tiger Woods.

NGUYEN: Reynolds Wolf, Wolf Blitzer, it's all right. Let's ask you this. Ladies, you're getting ready for the holiday party, know what you're wearing just yet? If you don't, don't stress out about it because you don't have to buy. You can rent for a lot less.

HOLMES: Those dresses can be kind of expensive.

NGUYEN: Yeah, we're talking designer gowns that cost what, $3,000.

HOLMES: And you all have to wear a new one to every event. You can never wear the same --

NGUYEN: All the dilemmas of being female.

But first, let's get you a quick check of the top stories this morning. The FBI has questioned some of the five Americans arrested in Pakistan on accusations of terrorism. An American official says investigators are gathering evidence that could result in a conspiracy charge against the Washington, DC area men. Meanwhile, the youth coordinator at a Virginia mosque described the men as quote, wholesome kids.

HOLMES: President Obama heading to the ongoing climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, heading over there next week, going to be talking about capping greenhouse gases. He's one of more than 100 world leaders expected to attend and one of the big topics of discussion during those non-official meetings, those sideline meetings there is the hacked e-mail controversy, climategate as its called. Climate change skeptics say those e-mails from environmental leaders show they manipulated reports to suit their views, but others like former Vice President Al Gore say those e-mails were taken out of context.

NGUYEN: South Carolina's governor now headed for divorce. Mark Sanford's wife filed the papers citing adultery. It comes six months after Sanford admitted to having an ongoing affair with a woman in Argentina. Jenny Sanford says she tried several times to reconcile the marriage. South Carolina legislators decided earlier this week not to impeach Sanford.

The story that's getting plenty of reaction this morning, it was out there, put out there via Tiger Woods and his website yesterday evening. The word is that he is leaving golf indefinitely.

HOLMES: A lot of you all maybe haven't heard this just yet because he did put that statement out Friday night around 7:00. He posted it on his website. Not a lot of the people were expecting to hear from him. Our Susan Candiotti has been covering the story as it first broke the day after Thanksgiving. She joins us now from New York. And Susan, who would have thought a couple of weeks ago, we were talking to you about a car accident involving Tiger Woods and now, here we are.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How quickly things have unfolded, right? Throughout this, we haven't heard from Tiger himself, at least on camera or heard his voice. He's only been communicating on his website and that's what he did again last night. Crisis managers are saying this is probably the best thing he can do to try to patch things up for his wife, for the first time acknowledging more than just quote/unquote transgressions, but acknowledging that he had been unfaithful to his wife. Here's what he says in part, quote, I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. And then he adds, after much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person.

And as we all know, all of this started to unravel on Thanksgiving night after that strange accident outside his house where he ripped out a fire hydrant leaving his driveway and then bashed into a neighbor's tree. After that, he failed to meet with authorities three times. He didn't have to talk with them and chose not to. Then he issued a series of statements at one point saying I will never let it happen again. But everyone wondered what that meant. Eventually, that was followed by all kinds of rumors of alleged affairs. We eventually saw various people start to come forward and claim that they had had an affair with him including a cocktail waitress by the name of Jamie Grubbs (ph). And that of course, that came out at just about the same time if not the same day as this voice mail that she released.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it shows that Tiger -- (AUDIO GAP) (END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: There's another step --


TIGER WOODS: Hey, it's Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. If you can, please take your name off that and what do you call it ... just have it as a number on the voicemail. Just have it as your telephone number. That's it. OK? You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. All right, bye.


CANDIOTTI: And so just before that, we heard from various sports columnists including Christine Brennan and her reaction to this announcement is that she thinks that it is finally acknowledgment on the part of Tiger and his PR team that this was the best thing for him to do at this particular time. Reaction from his sponsors starting to come in. One of the biggest, Nike, and it aid the following, quote, we look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike's full support. But then we also have this reaction from another one of his major corporate sponsors, EA Sports and it chose its words a little more carefully. While offering support for Tiger, it said, at this time, the strategy for our Tiger Woods PGA tour business remains unchanged. The PGA also offered its statement of support saying they are stand behind Tiger at this time and acknowledged that he should have some privacy. But did he do the right thing? Not all crisis managers believe that this is going to go away any time soon. Listen.


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY SPORTS COLUMNIST: I think it shows that Tiger and his team is starting to get how big a deal this is. The fact Jim that he used the word, infidelity for the first time instead of transgression. There's another step.


CANDIOTTI: And still, others think that this will not go away any time soon. One thing is for sure. The golf tour, which is really starting to kick in right now, will not be the same without Tiger Woods. They always have a dip in viewership when he is not playing in a tournament. How long he'll be out of course we don't know. Will it have a permanent impact on his career? That chapter has yet to be written. T.J. and Betty.

HOLMES: All right Susan, thank you so much. And a lot of people still wondering what that word, indefinite means. For the PGA tour, it's going to lose a lot if he is out for a while.

NGUYEN: A lot of money as well in the meantime too. Sports analysts have been closely following this story. One of them, Stephen A. Smith, told our Larry King that he thinks Woods got some bad advice when accusations of infidelity first surfaced.


STEPHEN A. SMITH, SPORTS ANALYST: To come out with a cockamamie story that he came out originally as opposed to telling the world that it was a personal issue, mind your business and leaving it at that, I think that made him look relatively weak and did he try to talk about his wife being a hero and tried to deflect the attention away from her. That was admirable because she probably in my estimation anyway, she probably was beating him down, which is why he ultimately got in an accident because he was a bit woozy before he jumped into the Escalade. That's just my opinion. But time after time again, whether it was him or his PR machine, clearly, he was given some bad advice.


NGUYEN: Steven A. speaking his mind there. We want you to speak your mind this morning. We've got these questions up on our Facebook and twitter sites, want to know what you think about Tiger Woods taking a break from golf indefinitely, the right thing to do? How's it going to affect his career, his life, the game of golf? Weigh in this morning. We'll be reading your responses on the air.

HOLMES: And talking about Tiger Woods taking a break from golf here, that really takes the story from being one about tabloid headlines and infidelity to really a big economic story. What is this going to do to golf, golf tournaments, the TV ratings? Stick around. Coming up in about 40 minutes, our guy, sports business analyst Rick Horrow joins us like he does every Saturday. He's going to be talking specifically this weekend now about the Tiger Woods saga.

NGUYEN: In the meantime though, a winter storm is just hitting parts of the U.S. very hard this weekend. Reynolds Wolf has been watching that for us and he joins us now. Hey there Reynolds.


NGUYEN: Thank you Reynolds.

A touching holiday tribute for the children of fallen soldiers.

HOLMES: We're going to be telling you what one non-profit is doing to help them look forward to the holidays.

NGUYEN: Plus, the real story behind Hanukkah. You may be surprised about its origins. Josh Levs has that coming up.


HOLMES: Every day can be difficult for people who have lost a loved one in war and certainly around the holidays, it'll be even tougher. We're going to show you something now called the Snowball Express that tries to help out. NGUYEN: This year the non-profit is bringing 1300 people to Texas, all expenses paid. Here's reporter Shelley Slater (ph) with CNN Dallas affiliate WFAA.


SHELLY SLATER, WFAA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "America the Beautiful." This was fall Staff Sergeant Brian Mintzlaff's favorite song and now, this snow globe is his daughter's most prized possession.

BREAYLN MINTZLAFF, LOST FATHER IN IRAQ: (INAUDIBLE) He's always with us in that he's in heaven right now and that we'll see him again one day.

SLATER: Breayln Mintzlaff is only 10 and yet wise beyond her years. She grew up fast after her dad died three years ago in Iraq. It happened the week before Christmas. For Breayln's mom, Monica, it hurts that she can't take away her daughter's pain.

MONICA SCARBOROUGH, BREAYLN's MOTHER: I can't do anything. My hands are 100 percent tied behind my back.

MINTZLAFF: On the day that my dad passed away last year, I was sitting on a bench staring at fireworks down in Disneyland.

SLATER: (INAUDIBLE) the non-profit helping children whose parents have died from war. Brealyn helped welcome 1300 military family members in town for a Snowball Express weekend of fun and understanding.

MINTZLAFF: No matter what, they'll always have someone who knows what they're going through and if they ever want to talk to me, I am arms wide open.

SLATER: Having lost her dad in December, Snowball Express gives hope in what could be a dark time.

SCARBOROUGH: She has December to look forward to versus December to dread.

SLATER: Does that make you feel pretty awesome to know that your dad's a hero?

MINTZLAFF: But when I think of hero, most kids think of hero, they would think of Superman or Batman or something, but I just think of people who are out there dying right now.


NGUYEN: A lot of people will agree with her, that is the true definition of a hero, someone who risked their life for others.

HOLMES: My goodness. That child there, just pull at those heart strings.

NGUYEN: So wise.

HOLMES: Made a good point, you can actually look forward to the holidays. That's something to look forward to for a change.

Well, American Airlines says it used eight jets to bring families to Texas from all over the country and the airline says it's important to honor the sacrifice.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. It is the first day of Hanukkah and our Josh Levs is here with some surprising facts about the story behind the holiday. So what are they Josh?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot don't realize this, Hanukkah's actually the story of a civil war. We are going to explain where the holiday comes from, plus, we have for you a new viral video about it from a power U.S. lawmaker who's Mormon.


NGUYEN: Well, it is the first day of Hanukkah. Jewish people across the world, they are celebrating the eight-day holiday.

HOLMES: The story behind the holiday has maybe some surprises in there. Josh Levs here to tell us about that. Good morning again Josh.

LEVS: Good morning to you. I was wondering what kind of online videos there are that talk about the story behind Hanukkah and one of the first ones that popped up, this great one from "Sesame Street." Take a look.


YOUTUBE.COM: Jewish people have been told they couldn't celebrate their customs and beliefs the way they want.

The king says you can't celebrate your beliefs and customs the way you want to.

One man decided to go against the king and keep on celebrating and believing just like he always did. That man was Judah Maccabee.

I'm Judah Maccabee and I celebrate and believe the way I want to.


LEVS: I love it. That is part of the story and what we're going to do now is (INAUDIBLE) there were these warriors led by Judah Maccabee and they were victorious over soldiers of the Greek Syrian empire and the second temple was rededicated in 165 BC. You know about the light. One night's worth of oil lasted eight days. The whole rededication that was going on was needed because the Syrian king had proclaimed (ph) had outlawed Jewish practice. What a lot of people don't realize that Hanukkah is the story of a civil war. The (INAUDIBLE) against fellow Jews who supported this new culture and the idea of giving up that kind of religious practice. In fact has an article, really interesting and they say -- in fact commemorates a Jewish civil war, a revolt against the Hellenized Jews who had fallen madly in love with the sophisticated, globalizing, super culture of their day.

Now, online, there's actually a lot of discussion going on about this, the complexities or the real story behind Hanukkah and what it means today. But There are also a lot of just fun videos going around and I can't believe how much traffic's this one's getting. It's a new Hanukkah song from Senator Orrin Hatch who is a Mormon. Take a look at his video.

From Senator Orrin Hatch (INAUDIBLE) on our website. You can see what his thinking was behind this. Let's show the graphic where we posted it for you. It's up at the blog, We've also got a forum for you at Facebook and twitter. And we're going to post some of these links too. You were just seeing a page from that talks to you about the actual story behind Hanukkah. We've got some other articles for you as well. Check it out. So those who are celebrating, of course Happy Hanukkah and Betty and T.J., you know what? Kind of interesting for me. I learned some stuff.

NGUYEN: A little history lesson there.

LEVS: A little bit.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

Time now to check in on some of our top stories. Tiger Woods says he is taking an indefinite leave from pro golf. He posted that announcement on his website last evening and he also apologized for his infidelity, says he needs time to focus on his family. This was the first time that we heard the word infidelity being used, admitting that he has cheated on his wife. In previous statements on his website, he said that he was sorry for transgressions.

HOLMES: President Obama, take a look at this picture here. He is taking a look at his Nobel peace prize. That's pretty cool. The White House released this photo of the president getting his first look at the medal. It was taken a couple days ago at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway where the president went to pick up that Nobel peace prize.

NGUYEN: A Florida judge is considering whether the prosecution can seek the death penalty for murder. Defendant Casey Anthony, she is accused of killing her two-year-old daughter a year ago. Anthony's lawyers say there is insufficient evidence and it could lead to a biased jury, but prosecutors say the circumstances surrounding the toddler's death warrant the maximum sentence.

Our web guru Mario Armstrong has been shopping for formals folks. Find out how you get designer duds at just a fraction of the cost. We're not talking stuff that is fairly expensive. We're talking the really big ticket items.

HOLMES: And you can just rent them. You're only going to wear them once for the most part. NGUYEN: It's the same thing as renting a tux. Women don't often rent a dress. We'll show you how, dresses that cost in the thousands, beautiful gowns.

HOLMES: Did I see Mario's picture there holding a dress? Did I see that guys? Something is wrong about that.

NGUYEN: Is that your size, Mario?

HOLMES: It looks about right. We're going to be talking to Mario coming up in just a second after this break.

Also of course, Tiger Woods, the fallout. The biggest fallout so far we have seen, he is leaving golf for an indefinite break. What does this mean not just for him and his career, but for golf itself? We are talking to our guy Rick Horrow. He's just about 20 minutes away.


HOLMES: It says technology. Why are we talking about designer dresses? We're going to bring it all back together.

NGUYEN: Bring it full circle.

HOLMES: We are talking about bargains here and this is something a lot of women will be interested in because they want the look, but don't necessarily want to pay for that look.

NGUYEN: It is the holiday season. You got lots of parties to go to, lots of formals, this and that. Some of those gowns can cost thousands of dollars. And we talked about it earlier, once you wear it and you take a picture in it, you don't want to wear it again unless you have to. Mario Armstrong has been shopping so he's been helping us out actually looking for dresses. What you have isn't exactly my size. I'm a little disappointed in that. But what you do have is a pretty good bargain, so tell us about it.

MARIO ARMSTRONG, TECHTECHBOOM.COM: So here's how it works. This is how us geeks do it. We go online to actually rent our dress. Think of this like Netflix. So we go to a website called And on renttherunway, what you do is you look through a selection of about 40 or so different designers that are for all types of occasions from New Year's parties to holiday occasions, to black tie events to birthdays. And as you scroll through the designers, you actually find a dress that you're interested in and once you find that dress, you can order that dress and have it shipped directly to you for a rental fee. So, for example, this dress right here typically would cost you $890. It's a (INAUDIBLE) dress retail. You can rent this from for $100.

NGUYEN: OK, but say I rented that dress and I don't know, I got a little bit, food spilled on it. I was having a good time and someone bumped into me and got a stain. What do you do? Are you charged for all of that? ARMSTRONG: Great point. So here's the deal. What they do is normal wear and tear, if you pay for an extra $5 over rental fee, that covers your insurance for any normal wear and tear. If you have things busting at the seams or if you just don't return the dress, you will be charged the full amount for it. So there is this little insurance. Another little good thing is Betty, probably when you get dressed, you may lay out several different items at one time that you may try on. So the ladies there thought about that. They actually give you two of the same dress in two different sizes so you can have a chance and try that out and you can pay additional fees if you want a different style altogether shipped to you.

NGUYEN: And how long do you get to keep it?

ARMSTRONG: For about four days or up to eight days depending on the length of the time that you need it for.

NGUYEN: That's kind of cool. It's like renting a tux, the female version of renting a tux.

ARMSTRONG: I wish they would do this for guys. I mean I really could use this. You wear these things one time and like you said, you get your Facebook page or the photo goes up, you don't want to see that same stunning outfit.

HOLMES: I'm losing so much respect for you now.

ARMSTRONG: (INAUDIBLE) You only live once.

HOLMES: Let's move on to one other thing. (INAUDIBLE) Everybody's always trying to look for a way to get rid of some of their old tech gadgets and whatnot and you need to get rid of them the right way and you got a website that will help them do that. You can get a little money for it.

ARMSTRONG: You can get a little money for -- so this is cash for your clunkers in terms of your tech gadgets. It's called Essentially all you do is you got to, you type in what you have to offer. In this case I had an iPod that I wanted to get rid of. I went through a few questions about the value of it and whether or not it works or not. It tells me how much I'll get and a check sent to me for $38. And then I can just see the check out of all the different items. So I plugged in about four different items and I am going to get a check for $180. They send you this envelope which is great from gazelle so you can just prepay, put your items in. ship it to them and then they send you a check.

And one last little (INAUDIBLE) point is, if you don't want the money directly for yourself, you can actually set up a donation for a cause. You could actually have this go to a non-profit or maybe to your kids' little league soccer team or to your church.

NGUYEN: And you still get the tax write-off for that.

ARMSTRONG: And you still get the tax write off for that.

NGUYEN: Is it more than just gadgets? Can it be chargers and other accessories?

ARMSTRONG: Great point. No, it cannot be chargers and it can't be printers or those CRT monitors and televisions, those three things and fax machines. Those are four things that they can't do just yet. But just about everything else. They have 15 different categories and 150,000 items have been recycled through this program, really effective, really effective.


ARMSTRONG:, so get some of that stuff out of your drawers T.J. and Betty. I know you got some old cell phones lying around.


HOLMES: Good stuff this weekend, some very useful stuff, certainly around the holidays as well. Good to see you as always. We'll see you again soon.

ARMSTRONG: See you guys soon. Take care.

HOLMES: We'll be talking golf and what about golf? What can we be talking about?

NGUYEN: I have no idea. Some guy called Tiger Woods and some saga.

HOLMES: He is letting the game he loves and the game that made him a star, he's letting it go. Yes, the country's first and the world's first billion dollar athlete.

NGUYEN: This is the second straight year though that the number one player will be sidelined, so what does the PGA have to say about all this? We have that coming up.


NGUYEN: Hello, everybody and welcome back to CNN SATURDAY MORNING. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And, good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. Thank you for being with us.

A big story we're watching this morning. The news we got last night that, in fact, two big things from Tiger Woods in a statement on his web site, which is how he has been communicating since this whole scandal broke. One thing he finally said, yes, in fact, he cheated on his wife. He admits that.

NGUYEN: Infidelity for the first time.

HOLEMS: Infidelity.

Secondly, he says he is stepping away from golf indefinitely. NGUYEN: Right. So, no idea when he'll come back, if he'll come back. So what does this mean not only for his family, for his career, for the game of golf?

Well, Randi Kaye has been taking a look at the timeline of events.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't exactly sudden death, but Tiger Woods seems to have lost this round. His troubles began the day after Thanksgiving, with a mysterious one-car crash at 2:30 in the morning. Just feet from his own driveway, he hit a tree and fire hydrant. His wife used a golf club to free him from his badly mangled SUV. A neighbor called 911.


KAYE: Tiger seemed to hope silence would make the story go away. It didn't work.

Days later, he released a statement, apologizing for quote, "transgressions," in very carefully worded comments that never mentioned the word affair. That statement was released the same day this cover story in "US Weekly" magazine hit newsstands. In it, Las Vegas cocktail waitress, Jamie Grubbs alleged an three-year affair with the golfer. She told the magazine they met in a nightclub when Woods tapped her on the shoulder. And that he recently left her a voicemail warning her that his wife may be calling.

VOICE OF TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Hey, it's Tiger. I need you to do a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.

KAYE: It didn't end there. More women came forward. Cocktail waitresses, a lingerie model, even former porn stars, all alleging to have had a relationship with Tiger Woods.

But the golfer stayed silent until Friday night, when he admitted his quote, "infidelities" in a statement.

(on camera): Earlier this year, Woods hit the billion dollar mark, earning an unprecedented amount of money in his career, including endorsements, appearances and business relationships with companies like Nike, which pays him an estimated $20 million a year to add his name to their line of golf gear. Sports Illustrated reported Woods earned $105 million from sponsorship deals in 2008.

(voice-over): Through it all, his sponsors have stood by him. Nike released a statement saying, quote, "Nike supports Tiger and his family. Our relationship remains unchanged."

Gatorade offered its support in a statement too. "Tiger and his family have our support as they work through this private matter."

But commercials featuring Tiger Woods disappeared from primetime TV. The last one that aired was a Gillette ad on November 29.

On late night TV his personal pain became a parody.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Earlier today, I had an unfortunate incident with my golf clubs. I was putting them away in the closet and one on them dropped on top of me.

KAYE: It may have all become too much. What else would drive the world's greatest golfer away from the game and the glory he's enjoyed for so many years?

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Well, the PGA also releasing a statement showing support for Woods. This came out yesterday.

It says, "We fully support Tiger's decision to step away from competitive golf to focus on his family. His priorities are where they need to be, and we will continue to respect and honor his family's request for privacy. We look forward to Tiger's return to the PGA TOUR when he determines the time is right for him."

NGUYEN: Well, we've been asking you this morning to weigh in on the whole situation with Tiger Woods and him stepping away from the game of golf indefinitely. And want to share your comments right now because you've been going to our Facebook and Twitter sites. Quickly to my Facebook site, Ron Gordon says , "Good morning. It's the right decision. Golf is a game, his family is his life. I wish him and his wife well and sincerely hope he gets his life back in order.

And Martin says. "I feel it's a good decision on his part so that all this can calm down and he can take care of his family situation and personal life."

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE) but this was sent to us by one of our folks on the (INAUDIBLE) here and from our blog, which essentially -- it's not up on screen there, I'm just sharing. But a comment -- a guy essentially saying he should go ahead, exercise prenuptial agreement. Go ahead and divorce Aaron -- Elin, excuse me. Then he can run around and be this golf wedding playboy. He even suggested here that a lot of men secretly admire his prowess.

Now, some might have that attitude. That's one of many comments and many attitudes, but different opinions people have about what he should do at this point.

NGUYEN: We've had a lot of conversations. I'm sure that a lot of you have talked about this. It seems like everyone is talking about it. In fact, in some of our conversations we've heard people come up and actually say that. I mean, you have that prenuptial agreement, you might as well exercise it.

But, you know, this is a situation where he and his family have to work out to make the best decision for them. It is quite a saga that continues to unfold daily, in fact, and the latest word is that he is going to step away from the game of golf indefinitely. So, we'll wait and see how it plays out. But in the meantime we'll continue to follow it for you. And thank you for your comments. We'll keep reading them on the air so send them into us.

So, what do you think about Tiger situation? Should he step away from the game of golf? What's it going to do to his career, to the game itself, to the sponsorships and all of that? Let us know what you think.

All right. We're going to move on to another story right now because environment ministers heading to Copenhagen right now as preparations begin for the U.N. climate change summit. World leaders including President Obama expected to arrive there next week. But the big story before they get there, those hacked e-mails. I'm sure you've heard something about them.

Well, did environmental leaders manipulate reports to suit their views? Deputy political editor Paul Steinhauser joins us now.

And Paul, you know, can we just try to get to the bottom of it because it's kind of like a he-said, she-said and it's a little confusing as to what was exactly in the e-mails and where's the truth in the fiction in all of this.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes there sure is. And Betty, there's a political fallout here as well, right back here in the U.S. when it comes to domestic politics because Republicans now, some conservatives are using that e-mail controversy as ammunition in a way against the climate bill and clean energy bill that the Democrats are pushing.

Take a listen to Marcia Blackburn, she's a congresswoman from Tennessee. She gave the Republicans an internet and radio address this morning.


REP. MARSH BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Recently leaked e-mails reveal climate scientists have a long track record of manipulating data to hide scientific evidence that contradicts the global warming establishment. And why? To bully citizens and lawmakers into supporting job-killing energy tax schemes.

This scandal raises serious questions about the Democrats' climate control plans, questions that deserve a transparent investigation, not a rush to judgment by the bureaucrats in Copenhagen. Republicans are all for clean water, clean air and clean energy. We just don't think we have to tax people out of their house and home to get there.


STEINHAUSER: Blackburn's going to Copenhagen. She's among a couple Republican lawmakers heading over there for their view. And that bill has passed the House. It is stalled right now in the Senate, probably not going to work on until next year, Betty.

NGUYEN: All right.

Well, Sarah Palin always seems to be in the news. She is speaking out.

What is she saying this time?

STEINHAUSE: Yes, this was interesting. Kind of a war of words between Sarah Palin, the former Vice Presidential candidate, and the former Vice President himself, Al Gore. It started earlier this week when Palin in an op-ed in the "Washington Post" brought up those e- mails, the controversy and said that's the reason why the president should boycott Copenhagen. The former Vice President Al Gore in an interview this week responded saying that that kind of shows that Sarah Palin is a global warming denier. She responded to him on her Facebook page, Betty, saying that she believes in global warming, just not 100 percent sure man has caused global warming, Betty.

NGUYEN: Interesting that she responded on her Facebook page. Tell you what, social media.

What do the polls show, though, when it comes to global warming? What do people out there really think?

STEINHAUSE: Yes, this is interesting. Our brand new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll, we put it out this week. Take a look at these numbers. It shows a rise in skepticism here in the U.S., a slight rise in skepticism. You can see 76 percent of people last year in June of 2008 believed that global warming was a proven fact. That slipped a couple of points. And why? Because of Republicans, not Democrats, Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. Paul Steinhauser, as always. We appreciate your insight. Thank you so much.

So, trying to shop for a sports lover this holiday season? I can be a little difficult, we know. So we have some gift ideas for you.

HOLMES: Which includes hot sauce. You'll need to stick around with us --

NGUYEN: Yes, that's what I'm kind of scratching my head over. Hot sauce?

HOLMES: Well, for the sports fan, the guy who makes the sauce would be a big deal.

NGUYEN: Yes, OK. So, I'll get you hot sauce for Christmas.

HOLMES: All right.

We're always going to be talking, before that, Tiger Woods, we're going to be talking to Rick Horrow, with some thoughts on what this means for Tiger's career now and also for pro golf now that he had decided to step away indefinitely. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Checking our top stories right now. The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is underway. The start of the holiday is marked by lighting a menorah. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a lighting at the capital in Sacramento. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, began at sunset yesterday.

Well, contract canceled. The security firm formerly known as Blackwater no longer has a contract with the CIA in Iraq. The AP reports a person familiar with the contract says it was canceled earlier this year by CIA Leon Panetta. Recent reports say company personnel worked with CIA agents on snatch and grab raids in Iraq between 2004 and 2006.

And making big news today, Tiger Woods once again. But what we have learned is that he is stepping away from the game of golf indefinitely. That is what he is saying on his web site. He also apologizes to his family for his infidelity. That's the first time we have heard that word used. Before, it was transgression. But Tiger Woods admitting that he indeed did cheat on his wife.

We're going to have much more on this story. In fact, T.J. is following it -- T.J.

HOLMES: Yes, Betty, and with that admission, this now turns now from being some salacious some tabloid story to being a story with huge economic implications. We want to turn to Rick Horrow, our Sports and Business analyst, also a visiting expert at Harvard Law School. Because, Betty, when you think of Harvard Law --

NGUYEN: You think, Rick Horrow.

HOLMES: Good morning, to you Rick.

RICK HORROW, SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Good tag team, guys. That was very nice.

HOLMES: Always good to see you. But, my goodness, man. We know he's the number one golfer in the world. We know he makes the most money out there, maybe the most famous athlete.

But put in better perspective for us here, just what did golf lose?

HORROW: They lost a billion dollar juggernaut. For him, himself, he's finally made statements. Look at the words he used in his statement itself -- disappointment, infidelity, profoundly sorry, asks for forgiveness. All of those things weren't said a week ago when he talked about transgressions.

Now, your question -- what about the tour? 7,000 percent increase in PGA millionaire since he came on the tour. Last year when he was out, 47 percent decline in television ratings. The networks themselves pay $800 million a year to continue to televise all Tiger all the time. What are they going to do now?

HOLMES: Yes. And a lot of people think, wow, this is great for some of these other golfers. They have a better chance to win some of these tournaments. But this is not good for any of those golfers, who, like you just mentioned, their pockets have been padded since he's gotten on to the tour.

What about the PGA? What about Nike? What about Gatorade? And particularly the PGA. You know, any athletes in any other sports, when they do something and get into a little trouble out there, sometimes their leagues will come down on them. Does the league -- does PGA -- or maybe some of these sponsors need to come out and say something, we support him, yes. But w really hate what he did.

HORROW: Well, remember, the commissioner of the PGA came out with a fairly orchestrated supportive statement -- It's a private matter, let's hope he comes back soon. Family is first. EA Sports and other sponsors did the other thing, as well.

Look, companies like Gillette, EA, a little harder edge, don't know what they're going to do, they may stay with him. Nike, $800 million a year in revenue that he's created from Nike Golf, out of nothing. So look for Phil Knight to have a conversation about Tiger. Kellogg's stepped away from Michael Phelps fairly early, got some backlash. So one thing's for certain. Marketing experts are making a lot of money over the next few months.

HOLMES: All right. Last thing on this topic here, what about his golf? You know, he was well on the way, a lot of people already think he's the greatest golfer to already live. But he's four championships away from Jack Nicklaus' record. What happens to his golf game now? Will he not now? Is he in some danger of not being possibly, wrapping up his career as the greatest ever?

HORROW: He'll become the best carpet chipper in the history of the world because he may have to stay indoors. Paparazzi all over the place. In all seriousness, if the hiatus is a small "H" and he comes back pretty soon, he's only got five more Majors to win to pass Jack Nicklaus. He's one 71 times on tour, $90 million. It's a question purely of whether the hiatus is a it's a small "H" or capital "H."

HOLMES: All right. Our Rick Horrow. Don't go too far, stay there. We know you got some goodies he's going to be sharing with as we talked about sports fans out there. You've got some gifts. We have an annual list of Rick Horrow's the Top Ten Gifts for the sports lovers out there. We're talking to Rick when we come back.


HOLMES: And what is he --

NGUYEN: I don't know. He said he could care less. All right, we'll see you later, Rick.

HOLMES: Well, Rick, come on now. It's time for us to get back on TV, buddy.

HORROW: So, now we start with the non-serious stuff. We're down with Tiger. Now we talk about the fifth annual Horrow Holiday Hot List. Do you want me to keep going or --

HOLMES: Oh, please, no. We just can't let you go. But this is the first item. Just show us this first one here.

NGUYEN: The Snuggie, which I mean, who's going to need a Snuggie?

HOLMES: No, no, no. So the collegiate Snuggie company, Gator Snuggie. Hey, by the way, let me give you a hint. This is now selling for half as much as it would have last week. And we've got a Florida State Snuggie here. Apparently, (INAUDIBLE) you've got to be years old to wear it. So, that's the number one gift.

NGUYEN: All right. So that's number one on your list. I'm afraid to ask what number two is.

HARROW: Well, the number two is an interesting -- John Madden put out an interesting cabernet sauvignon from the John Madden Ranch, 2007. What a great gift for the sports fan in your life that apparently has everything. So, that's number two.

HOLMES: All right. I want to skip down to something here. This is what Betty's been giving me a hard time about. I think you have it in your hand there. But she saw hot sauce on the list. Explain though why the hot sauce.

HORROW: Well, let me explain why the hot sauce. Because the demographics of CNN viewers, maybe 8 bucks is a pretty good price tag for somebody that you --

NGUYEN: What are you saying? That our viewers are cheap?

HOLMES: No, I'm just suggesting -- I'm giving you diversity to spend. Maybe this is a sweetie that's only worth 8 bucks. So, Big Papi En Fuego Hot Sauce. It's the original after Big Papi. It says 100 percent natural. He might not be. And steroids may be sold separately. What about that?


NGUYEN: So, for the sports fan in your life, what's another option for them?

HARROW: Well here's another one. This the official Cole Haan, Maria Sharapova limited edition tote bag. She had a billboard, by the way. Times Square took it down, cut it into 100 pieces.

NGUYEN: Oh, that's a part of the billboard.

HARROW: This is from the billboard. Yes, it is. There's some good stuff in here. And also, it's autographed by Maria. I don't think every one of these is. But if you have a fan in your life, you want to spend 50 bucks on, this is it.

HOLMES: Yes, that's a good looking bag there, isn't it, Betty?


NGUYEN: Now, you've got a phone on the list. Show me this thing.

HARROW: Well, Cisco, it's a camcorder. It's called a flip phone. They're big into technology now. This is three ounces, 60 minutes of recorded, high def. You plug it into your computer, less than $200. This is the smallest and lightest and is just symbolic of Cisco's entre into this side of the industry.

NGUYEN: What does that have to do with sports?

HARROW: Well, because Cisco -- oh, by the way --

NGUYEN: Because there's a golf ball on the front of it?

HARROW: No because it's designed because you can also take it to sporting events. And has Cisco's having major impact on sports technology. And so they make it in logos with different teams, as well. And they're looking to do some more stuff technologically.

HARROW: And the last couple of things.


HOLMES: The last couple of things. The CDs?

NGUYEN: Yes, your Christmas mix. What is that?

HARROW: Hey, now listen. This is cool. Bernie Williams, he played center field for the New York Yankees. And he has a CD called "Moving Forward" where he sings. I'm not sure he catches a fly ball but he sings. And Tim McCarver, big time catcher for the Cardinals, he sings from the "Tim McCarver Song Book."

So if you are absolutely looking for something for fans that have everything, here it is.

NGUYEN: T.J., I don't know, you may get a few of those things on that list.

HOLMES: The wine's okay. The hot sauce, skip that.


HOLMES: Rick, good to see you. We like your set-up. Your Andy Rooney set-up you got going today -- the office setting. It's very nice.

HARROW: Yes, yes appreciate it.

NGUYEN: Enjoy the Snuggie, Rick. HOLMES: Thanks, Rick. We'll see you.

Well, they are keeping it in the family. We'll tell you why a mom used to throw out her son's stash of marijuana. But now, they are both cultivating it.

NGUYEN: Growing that stuff.

HOLMES: Families looking for things to do together.


HOLMES: Hello, everybody, from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING for this December 12. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Almost halfway through December. This year is flying by.

Good morning, everybody, thanks for joining us. It's 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 8:00 a.m. for those waking up in the Midwest, and 6:00 a.m. bright and early. Maybe not so bright considering the weather outside on the West Coast.

You know, every Saturday morning at 9:00, we do focus on health care. And coming up this half hour --

HOLMES: We're talking about the cash crop here. Medical marijuana -- a farm in Denver and one woman's journey from hairdresser to cannabis cultivator. You'll want to hear how that journey went.

NGUYEN: Plus, the Senate's health care reform bill is not an easy thing to understand. But Brianna Keilar has found a way to break it all down and explain some loopholes that you will be very interested in.

HOLMES: Now, before we get to all that. Some of our top stories that we're keeping an eye on.

Tiger Woods is stepping away from the game of golf for now. He posted another comment on his web site yesterday apologizing for cheating on his wife. He, actually for the first time, used the word infidelity. He now says he needs time to focus on his family, so he is taking an indefinite leave from golf. We have no idea when he might return to the game.

NGUYEN: Well, police in Pakistan say five young Americans from Northern Virginia used Yahoo! e-mail to communicate with a Taliban recruiter. Authorities say messages weren't sent back and forth, rather, they were left in the accounts draft section, read, and then deleted to avoid detection. Investigators say the group planned to go to Pakistan's northern tribal region to hook up with the Taliban.

HOLMES: And Jews around the world celebrating Hanukkah now. The eight-day festival marked by lighting candles over menorah celebrates and ancient Jewish victory over Syrian fighters and the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. President Obama issued - excuse me, issued his Hanukkah message in Hebrew. You can find it in the White House web site.

NGUYEN: Well, let's start this hour with - our half hour with health care insurance. The White House is scrambling to close a loophole in the Senate's reform bill.

HOLMES: Yes, a single word, one word in the bill could have led to caps on your annual coverage. It highlights the complexity and nuance of writing such a far reaching legislation so quickly.

NGUYEN: Yes. So we want to get the story now from congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar.


SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: If you're a citizen of the United States and you get sick, you ought not be shove into bankruptcy -

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a frequent call of top Democrats as they push to overhaul the nation's healthcare system. One of the ways they have said they would protection Americans was by stopping an insurance company practice of limiting a patient's insurance coverage, both over a lifetime and annually.

In November, the House passed a bill that would do just that. But in the bill, now up for debate on the Senate floor, under the section that plainly states no lifetime or annual limits, it says that insurance companies may or may not establish unreasonable annual limits. That one word, unreasonable, opens up a loophole for insurance companies to cap annual benefits.

(on camera): What does unreasonable mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no idea. And that is part of the problem.

(voice-over): At midday Friday when we talked to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, they were up in arms about the change, worried it would cause patients.

STEPHEN FINAN, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: A stage three colon cancer case can cost over $200,000. That's obviously a lot of money. What happens if the annual limits is $100,000?

KEILAR: We asked Senator Tom Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

(on camera): What is this going to mean for say the colon cancer patient whose bills top $200,000 a year?

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D) IOWA: Well, again, one of the compromises we had to make, we do have no lifetime caps. And we put in there no unreasonable annual caps. KEILAR (on camera): Well, what does that mean?

HARKIN: Well, (INAUDIBLE) by the Secretary of Health Services.

KEILAR: After the story aired on CNN, the White House and key congressional staffers spoke with the Cancer Action Network and agreed to close this loophole. But now without the caps, Democrats find themselves in a difficult situation of trying to keep down the costs of premiums for all Americans. The very reason why they put this loophole in the bill to begin with.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Capitol Hill.


NGUYEN: Well, the Senate has briefly sidelined health care legislation to focus on a critical spending bill and behind the scenes though, you can bet the battle rages on this weekend. Let's talk to CNN's deputy political director Paul Steinhauser right now. He joins us live from Washington. And Paul, where is the Senate health care bill stand right now and then what's next for it? Let's just try to get a timeline of events here.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: As you mentioned, the Senate right now dealing today with some spending bills. Health care is going away, not at all, Betty. It will be back, and back maybe as early as tomorrow and definitely on Monday.

And remember, the big news this past week was that 10 Senate Democrats negotiating have basically kind of dropped the public option, which is that government (INAUDIBLE) complete with private insurance. They dropped that and they're talking about now lowering the age to 55 for people to be able to join Medicare and they're also talking about a plan that would have private insurers offering non- for-profit insurance, administered by the government.

Because as you know, the public option, which was so controversial even with some Democrats may have been getting in the way. So what happens next week? Well, they may vote on a final bill, maybe as early as next week and that bill would probably not have the public option.

Betty, the problem here is, the Senate bill may not have a public option. The House bill, which has already passed does have a public option. And as our Dana Bash reported this week though Nancy Pelosi maybe now opening the door, maybe to a bill that doesn't have a public option. So the negotiations will continue. Will they get this done before Christmas? Maybe, but doubtful. It probably moves into next year, Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes, they better hurry if they need it done before Christmas. Hey, you know, you had some poll numbers out. I want to know what Americans are most concerned about when it comes to the Senate bill.

STEINHAUSER: Yes, this is interesting. We conducted this poll about two weeks ago, that was before this news about dropping the public option in the Senate bill. But still, check out these numbers. CNN Research Corporation had a national poll and we asked, the Senate bill, would it increase your taxes? Look at that 85 percent of Americans that we questioned said, yes, it would.

Same thing with the budget deficit. Americans, almost eight in 10 are concerned that this health care bill that's being worked out in the Senate right now would increase the budget deficit. And those are troubling numbers for Democrats, trying to get these past because those arguments that Republicans are using against them. Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. Paul, which party do Americans, according to your numbers here and the poll results, trust? Which party do Americans trust to get the job done on health care?

STEINHAUSER: It seems Americans are divided on this one. Take a look at this. We asked just that and you can see 43 percent said democrats. 40 percent said Republicans basically within the poll sampling error. So, Americans are kind of divided right on which party they think can do a better job on all important health care reform. Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. Paul Steinhauser watching it very closely for us, as are we. We thank you this morning.


HOLMES: Well, it's always good to spend quality time with the family. Find things that families can do together. A story coming up about a mother and a son who are working together to grow marijuana.


HOLMES: They are marijuana farmers and it's all legal.

NGUYEN: That is going to be interesting. OK.

Something else that's a little interesting this morning is the weather outside. For some folks it may be even a little frightening. Hey, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. We are talking about some snow and some really chilly conditions in parts of the nation especially in places like Boston, New York where we're going to be in the 30s, 38 degrees in Atlanta. While on the other side of that frontal boundary, check it out. 80 degrees in Miami and 78 in Tampa. We're going to have more coming up in a few moments, plus the big storm out west that is just moments away.


NGUYEN: You know, the calendar says it's not officially winter until December 21st, but boy, with these winter storm warnings and watches out there, it sure does feel like it in many parts of the country. WOLF: Oh, yes. And when you mention the watches and warnings, we're talking about them over nine states out west. But in the east, it's been pretty rough, too, especially in places like New York. New York City this morning doesn't look that bad this morning.

We got a shot for you out in New York. You can take a look at it in mere seconds and when you do - now, we don't have it. But trust me, it's got tall buildings and all that stuff of view and places to visit, especially this time of year.

However, out to the west in places like Syracuse and Buffalo, it's kind of a mix. You've got the cloudy skies in Buffalo. In Syracuse, some lake effects. Snowfall in parts of I-81. We've got, I believe, the live shot out of New York at this time. There it is. Conditions look pretty good there, but take a look at what happened yesterday with this video near Buffalo.

We had snow coming down, traffic was stacked up. Just a tremendous mess. I mean, this is a rough way to start off the winter season, but that's sure enough what they were dealing with. Traffic not just really slowing down, but at a standstill yesterday.

Today should be a little better and they're cleaning up the snow as we speak because, of course, the temperatures are going to be at the freezing point. So it's going absolutely nowhere. Still in place, one thing we're going to be seeing in terms of snowfall is the snow coming especially down towards the west. I'm going to show you what I'm talking about.

We've got this area of low pressure that is really beginning to ramp up and when it makes its way to the east, it's going to interact with moisture right along parts of say, the California coastline, from L.A. to as far north as the (INAUDIBLE), even up to Redding, California, look for scattered showers. But when you get in the higher elevations at the Sierra Nevada's, we're not talking about just a little bit of snow. We're just talking several feet are going to be possible especially when you're (INAUDIBLE) along i-80, be careful there. It's going to be rough for you.

Same story in the northern Rockies and central Rockies. When you get back in the four corners, some places near flagstaff could see a foot of snow in some places. So certainly they'll be advised that. Northern plains, same story. A pretty nice day for you in much of the Great Lakes, with a mix of sunshine and clouds.

But when you get to the southeast, we're looking at the chance of seeing a few scattered showers and the potential of seeing a few thunderstorms pop up, especially north of i-10, into the late afternoon. Maybe some over towards Louisiana also but take a look at something else we're on the map and that is the chance of some snowfall especially into the Appalachians by the afternoon.

Now in terms of temperatures, this is where it really gets interesting. This frontal boundary we have here, we call it a front because it's a separation between two entirely different air masses. For the northern half of this, we've got mild conditions. (INAUDIBLE) is this what you can see in Atlanta, well, 38 degrees, chilly, but for the most part, not bad.

But it just gets fabulous when you get in parts of Florida. If you're taking that i-75 southward, near Tampa, past Orlando and i-4, even into Miami, looking at temperatures mainly into the 30s, or rather going to the 70s and 80s. Some pretty nice stuff for you. We've got more stuff heading your way right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Hope you stick with us.


NGUYEN: Well, time is running out for 2009. Have you used up that flexible spending money in your health insurance plan?

HOLMES: OK. Our CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis has some ideas on how to use what's left.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hi, guys. The new year will mean health care insurance for many of us that is less generous and more expensive. In other words, you better act now to save money. Take the advantage of the remaining weeks to get your doctor's appointments in. Think ahead to where your health needs might be in the future. Maybe you want an extra set of glasses. Ask for extra medicine refills and max out that flexible spending account.

A flexible spending account lets you set aside pre-tax money to use on health-related expenses, usually has to be used up by the end of the year, but some employers will give you a grace period. Here are some things you can use your FSA for - some of them you may not even thing about, over the counter, medicine, massage therapy, firs aid kits, sun screen even dancing sessions. To get a more complete list of eligible expenses, go to And don't forget to get the free stuff.

Take advantage of free preventive checkups that work and low cost screenings. Many times, you can get free services like high cholesterol screening, prostate cancer screening, or mammograms. So check your policy. And make sure you've taken advantage of all these procedures before the new year begins.

What's free this year may not be free next year. And we'll have more on how to save money coming up on your bottom line, including how to save some cash and the environment this season.


NGUYEN: All right. Well, Colorado's cash crop. We're talking about marijuana, folks. Yes, growing pot for medical use is one of the booming business in the state.

HOLMES: Yes but who exactly is a marijuana farmer? CNN's Jim Spellman visited one farm to see how they are growing their products.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): So this is your little marijuana farm?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is me and my mother's little marijuana farm.

DIANE IRWIN, MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROWER: Greenhouse I, greenhouse II. I had an Aveda hair salon for 17 years. I sold my salon and moved down to the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We started in July, which was really late because we didn't get the property until June.

DIANA IRWIN: I gave Jason some money after I sold the salon. I just trusted him to do what he thought was best to invest the money and get ahead financially. And so one day, I was staying with him and he said he was going to open a dispensary and I said, go for it.

JASON IRWIN, MEDICAL MARIJUANA ENTREPRENEUR: The growers deal with a lot of the poundage, which is where the dollars are.

DIANE IRWIN: And then he called me one day on the phone and said, mom, I think we should buy this land and how do you feel about growing medical marijuana. And I said, OK. It was just a faith thing.

SPELLMAN: So, during the growing season, your mom lived in this camper?

JASON IRWIN: Yes and no and she also started hanging the buds here. She did half the harvest in here. She lived in here by herself with no real heat or water in this camper.

DIANA IRWIN: It was an adventure that I never thought about experiencing. When we finished, it was like an outward bound course for me. (INAUDIBLE) Roughing it.

JASON IRWIN: We got two ounces per plant. Total off of 62 greenhouse plants, we got like 13 pounds. It's a really cheap investment to be able to legally grow 63 cannabis plants in a market that's been determined by the illicit drug market.

DIANA IRWIN: And it was fun. Every morning, I would go out and talk to my girls, pray over them and ask then to provide good medicine so that people who are going to be using it. And so you know, growing up, I used to bust him all the time with marijuana and I used to flush it down the toilet or stash it. I'm in for the long haul. I really do feel like we're pioneers bringing new life to medical marijuana and it's exciting.


NGUYEN: Pot pioneers, I guess is what she would call herself.

HOLMES: I wonder who she's going to put on her resume? Can you put that down?

NGUYEN: (INAUDIBLE) and all that kind of stuff. HOLMES: I grow weed. No, no, no. It's for medical purposes.

NGUYEN: It's all legal.

HOLMES: It's legal our there. Some good business right now.

NGUYEN: Fairly so.

Well, bad news though for golf fans.

HOLMES: Yes, bad business here. Tiger Woods leaving the game. The latest on his announcement.


NGUYEN: Top stories now, President Obama will travel to Denmark next week to take part in the ongoing U.N. climate change conference. He is one of more than 100 world leaders expected. One of the big topics of discussion during non-official meetings has been hacked e- mails. Climate change skeptics say the e-mails from environmental leaders, show they manipulated reports to suit their views. Others say those e-mails were taken out of context.

HOLMES: Well, to Massachusetts now, where a 98-year-old woman has been charged with murder. Indicted on a second degree murder charge in the death of her roommate, a 100-year-old. Prosecutors say the pair lived in a nursing home in Dartmouth and argued over a piece of furniture. The victim was found dead with a plastic bag over her head back in September. Autopsy shows she had been strangled.

NGUYEN: Well, the big story that we are following today, and that being the Tiger Woods saga. The latest news. Well, it went online last night at the Tiger Woods web site where he says that he is taking a break from golf indefinitely. He actually admits to cheating on his wife in that using the word infidelity. Where in the past, he had just said transgression, which troubles did start with the tabloid report. And then, of course, that crash that happened right around Thanksgiving.

This is the first time though that we are learning that he is taking an indefinite break from the game of golf. So we've been asking you this morning, what do you think about that, is that the right move and what's it going to mean for his career, his family, the game of gold itself, the sponsors and all of that and you are definitely weighing in.

I want to read some of your responses. First of all, let me get to my twitter site. Artgraser says, "Tiger is young. Fame and fortune came before character development. This could be a big step in that direction if he's capable of caring." But professor wow says, "huge mistake. When this happens to non-celebs, you don't stop working. You say, I'm sorry, put it behind you and move forward."

HOLMES: Also at the top there, on twitter. Yes, there you go, my man. Someone saying, simply he needs a break from it all. Someone else right below that saying, I think the media should step aside. We're done with the Tiger story. He's human. Let them work it out. Media, stick to the news. And also, one under that, him stepping away is the right decision. He's such a great golfer, how much better would he have been without the distractions.

Once again, thank you all - one of you and just like everybody unless you've been living on Mars the last couple of weeks, you certainly know about this story. And I'm sure everybody has an opinion about what he has done, what he should do. We appreciate you sending those in. We will continue to share them through the morning.

NGUYEN: Well, the House and Senate health care bills seem to be growing further and further apart.

NGUYEN: So, what will end up on the president's desk? When will it end up there. How much will it cost? We'll hear from someone who worked on the health care reform bill for the Clinton administration.


HOLMES: Well, the Senate has its health care bill it's trying to work out. The House has its plan and as the debate continues, those two proposals for reform seem to be getting further and further apart. But most of you out there probably couldn't tell me the difference between the two right now if you had to. But that's why we've got Kenneth Thorpe here. He's a health care policy expert who worked for the Clinton administration on its health care reform efforts.

He has joined us over this whole debate and he joins us again this morning. My goodness, I can't even remember where we were the first time we actually started talking about this stuff. But we've come so much further. Are they getting there in the Senate? Let's forget about the House for a second. But are they getting to a point now in the Senate with that legislation that they think, they'll be able - Democrats at least, to get those 60 votes to talk about?

KENNETH THORPE, NATIONAL HEALTH CARE POLICY EXPERT: I think they're getting there. The key is to get the 60 votes. And it's like a Rubik's cube. You have to move different parts around to get different combinations (INAUDIBLE) and the things that are in play right now is a new proposal to allow adults to buy into the Medicare program at age 55.

I think there is a growing agreement on what the public option would look like. So I think that despite the fact that they're, you know, slowing down a little bit, they're waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to give them estimates, which has sort of bogged the timing down.


THORPE: They're moving along, and I think they're making progress.

HOLMES: But for a lot of people, a lot of Americans watching this thing, it seems like we call it progress, but progress is only to get to 60 votes. The legislation itself is so far, it seems, away from what the original goal was to be real reform. It sounds like they're just willing to make any kind of deal they have to just say we passed health care reform legislation.

THORPE: Well, I mean, the good news is that the core elements of the plan are still there. Moving the universal coverage. All the insurance reform to make sure that insurance companies can't deny you coverage, can't eliminate your coverage if you're sick. The core of the proposal is there. The debate that's been going on is about the public option, what form it will take and what trade-offs can you make among Senate Democrats to get a public option in there that's really digestible to 60 members of the Senate.

HOLMES: How close are they to that 60? I know, you do an odd number count. You've been a part of these things before, so how close are they getting? But it seems like every time they make a change and pick up one or two senators here, they're losing a couple of others on the other side.

THORPE: And that's what Senator Reid, the majority leader, has been trying to do. I think he's doing a masterful job of trying to keep that coalition together. The two road block we face right now is one, we're waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to come back with estimates on how much the plan cost. So, Senators are not going to commit until they really see the CBO estimates of this and exactly what's in the legislation. And two, are the trade-off between a public option, which looks like it will be now administered by a non for profit private plan, nationally, and this Medicare buy in. So those are two big pieces that they need to still figure out.

HOLMES: On this public option now, again, it seems like they keep molding and shaping this thing and keep calling it something different to try to get the votes they need. To a common, just the lay person out there watching this, does this still look like a public option? When we hear about public option, we've been hearing that forever but the one that they are now looking at, how close is that to resembling the public option we all thought we knew?

THORPE: I think it's close. I mean, the idea is that there would be one or more plans nationally, so that everybody pays the same premium. If I live in Albuquerque, I live in Indiana, Pennsylvania, I pay the same premium. It's just that it will be administered by a private, not for profit health plan.

HOLMES: Do you find now that you're starting to hear a little bit, a little momentum, as far as some of the Democrats even in the House now, people are slowly but surely starting to back away on their language, about saying well it must have a public option? Maybe moving towards saying well, as long as it does the same thing as the public option. Do you see now that some momentum going towards there? It's not just stepping away from that term public option though.

THORPE: I think so. I think everybody recognizes that they are so close to passing a major, major piece of health reform legislation that would have enormous implications immediately for Americans. You know 60 days, 90 days after this was passed, there would be a national plan available for people to buy and based on no pre-existing conditions. So that plan would be available day one and that's an important improvement for Americans.

HOLMES: Ken Thorpe, we appreciate having you. We don't know what we would do without you. We appreciate you, as always coming in. We'll continue to talk about this thing.

All right. Betty and I, of course, will be back here in right about a half hour.

HOLMES: Yes. The top of the hour, but "Your Bottom Line" with Gerri Willis starts right now.