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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Obama and the War on Terror; Family Pledges to Lose Weight Together

Aired January 7, 2010 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, President Obama takes the heat on the shocking failures that allowed a suspected terrorist on a plane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For ultimately, the buck stops with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And spells out security breakdowns that could have led to catastrophe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How did intelligence fall through the cracks and what's the White House going to do now to prevent it from happening again?

And then, their bodies are their prisons, defined by morbid obesity that could kill them. Connie Wilson is still battling. So is The Biggest Loser winner. And a family that weighs a ton telling us how they're fighting the war against weight.

Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

The terror threat continues to top the news tonight. President Obama took responsibility today for failures to prevent an attempted attack on Christmas Day. As you just saw, he said the buck stops with me and more.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: All of these agencies and their leaders are responsible for implementing these reforms and all will be held accountable if they don't. Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.

Over the past two weeks, we've been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war. We are at war against Al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Paul Bremer, the former ambassador at large for counter- terrorism, is going to join us in a moment.

Dan Lothian is a CNN White House correspondent.

Was what the president said today expected?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really was expected. We had been hearing from senior White House officials that the president would take responsibility for the failings and he certainly did that, saying that the buck stopped with him.

What the president didn't do, though, was point fingers at anyone else, saying that there was no one agency or one person that was responsible for the problems, but it was system-wide failure.

Now the president did go on to say -- and, also, the report that was released today did spell out that, clearly, there was information there that could have prevented this suspect from getting onto the airplane. There were bits and pieces of information out there, but that no one person put it altogether.

So the president told the intelligence community that they need to do better. He didn't ask them to overhaul the way that they do their work, but to do that work much better. And the president spelling out about a dozen various reforms, saying that they need to beef up their analysis, that they need to be able to move that information around much quicker and to a wider group of people, but they also need to beef up their international partnerships.

And John Brennan, the president's top counter-terrorism adviser, said that intelligence simply fell through the cracks. And he told the president that, "I let you down and I will do better." Larry.

KING: Thanks, Dan.

Dan Lothian at the White House.

Let's check in with Jeanne Meserve, our CNN homeland security correspondent.

She's in Washington.

The terror suspect is in court tomorrow. What are we expecting?

JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We are expecting him possibly to enter a plea tomorrow. He's facing six charges. One of them carries life in prison. That would be having a weapon of mass destruction. Some of the other charges relate to attempting to kill the 289 people on that Northwest Airlines flights -- six charges in all. He will be there, we expect. The possibility of a -- of a plea, but we're not absolutely certain that's going to happen -- Larry.

KING: So this is his criminal arraignment?

MESERVE: That's correct. This is his arraignment tomorrow. And they'll also be dealing with the matter of detention. But, you know, there's so much on the table already, we aren't expecting the government to put a lot of new information out there for us.

KING: That's Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent.

Now let's check in with Paul Bremer in Washington. He's the former ambassador for counter-terrorism, the former head of Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

It's good to have him back.

What did you make of the president today, Paul?

PAUL BREMER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTER-TERRORISM CHIEF: Well, I think, first of all, this whole thing proves Bremer's first rule of counter-terrorism intelligence, which is that it's always easier to find the needle when the haystack's been taken away.

There's good news and bad news in what the president did today.

First, the good news. He acknowledged clearly that we are at war with Al Qaeda and that this was a terrorist attack.

And, secondly, he took responsibility.

The bad news is that the president never really conveyed a sense of urgency to the country or to his team about this incident. This is two weeks after the incident and his counter-terrorism adviser apparently told one of the senior counter-terrorist analysts to take six days vacation the day after this incident.

The second bad news piece is more serious. And that is that the administration seems to be entrapped in its commitment to the failed counter-terrorist policy of the 1990s, which is to treat terrorists as criminals. And that, in fact, could be even more dangerous than some of these systemic problems the president talked about today.

KING: But a terrorist isn't a criminal, though, until a court of law says he is.

I mean how do you deal with the balance there between the Constitution and all of this?

BREMER: These -- this man committed a terrorist attack or tried to commit a terrorist attack. He could have been rounded up by the military -- perfectly legal, according to Supreme Court rulings -- and interrogated by professional counter-terrorist interrogators for information. Counterterrorism intelligence information is highly perishable. You need to know right away what -- where he came from, who made the bomb, where did he get the bomb, what other operations are being planned, by whom, where and when?

That kind of information, as soon as you treat him as a criminal and he gets a lawyer -- and Abdulmutallab now has a lawyer -- obviously, you don't get anymore. And you're left with the rather pathetic counter-terrorism policy of a plea bargain with a man who tried to kill 300 Americans. It's the wrong approach.

KING: How about those who say, Paul, that the president today treated us as adults. He told us that nothing's perfect, things can happen, we're doing our best.

That's being honest.

It's not bad, is it?

BREMER: No. And I said at the beginning, I think he -- he is to be congratulated for that. And I think it's important that we wish that he gets this right now.

But I think unless this conceptual problem is overcome, the idea that these are just criminals and we treat them that way, we're going to have a lot more problems in the future.

You know, also, Larry, these fixes that were announced are basically minor fixes. I think they probably were all proposed by the very bureaucracies that missed the various dots in the -- in the pattern. And there are two fundamental questions that should be asked.

Number one, is this whole structure of the directorate of National Intelligence really working?

If you read the White House paper, you find that there are conflicting areas of responsibility right between the National Counterterrorism Center and the CIA. In fact, the paper congratulates itself that these two agencies are mutually responsible. I don't know, my old rule in business is, if everybody's responsible, nobody's responsible.

And, secondly, I think, this whole incident raises the question whether we shouldn't -- it isn't time again to look at the proposition to establish a domestic intelligence agency, such as Britain has had for decades. We've avoided that question now for about a decade and it's time to come back and look at it again.

KING: Paul, what's your biggest worry? BREMER: My biggest worry is that we -- you know, in a way, I thought we were safer than we were before nine -- 9/11. I'm not so sure anymore. I'm not so sure. And I'm not so sure because part of it is the problem of wading through all of this intelligence -- tens of thousands of documents and pieces coming in over the transom every day. These systemic problems, how you manage all of that -- but most importantly, the conceptual problem of understanding that this is a war. It's not about criminals, it's about Islamic extremists.

KING: Thanks, Mr. Ambassador.

We'll be calling on you again.

Always good to see you.

BREMER: It's nice to be with you.

KING: Right and left weighs in on what the president said today, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF "BALLOON BOY": This was not a hoax. We had searched the house high and low and -- and...

FALCON HEENE: We did this for the show.

KING: You're swearing that none of that was staged?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Before we meet our panel, I want to remind you, Richard Heene, the father who led the country to believe his son was trapped in a runway balloon, will be here tomorrow night, his first interview since he was sentenced to jail. He says it wasn't a hoax. That's Friday's LARRY KING LIVE.

Joining us now in New York, Stephanie, host of "The Stephanie Miller Show."

Bay Buchanan is in Washington, Republican president -- she's the Republican president of The American Cause.

In Philadelphia, liberal side, on the liberal side, is Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Columbia University, contributor to TheRoot.com. He's a liberal.

And the conservative in Washington, Amanda Carpenter, reporter and blogger for "The Washington Times."

Stephanie, the president said the buck stops with him.

Was that a good move today? STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, it's certainly a different move than we ever heard in the Bush administration. I never heard anybody taking responsibility for 9/11, for Katrina. I thought he stepped to the plate.

And I couldn't disagree with Paul Bremer more, Larry. I think he is prosecuting the exact same way President Bush prosecuted the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, as a criminal. You don't want to make them holy warriors. You want to prosecute them as what they are and that's criminals. And that's what Clinton did when he put the -- the previous, you know, Cole bombers in jail instead of letting them get away, like Osama bin Laden.

KING: Bay, what did you make of the president today?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: Well, you know, I think it's a little bit too late is what it is. I think what he did today was right and he took responsibility, as Stephanie said, as he well should.

But look what happened here. This was an attempted act of war against the United States of America. We had Al Qaeda moving an operative on an American plane, putting him in a specific seat to go in and commit a terrible crime against this country. And the president took many days to even respond. Then they treat this fellow -- reading him his Miranda rights instead of getting an interrogation where we can get serious information. They didn't notify the other pilots.

Larry, did they do anything right, is what I want to ask?

And this is a commander-in-chief that looks to me like he's not certain exactly what to do when something goes wrong. He has to study it for a couple weeks. We need better.

KING: Mark, what -- do you deal with that delicate balance between the Constitution and the rights of any individual to presumption of innocence, the right to a lawyer and an imminent threat to the country?

MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I don't -- I don't think it's that delicate of a balance. Obviously, we need to keep both things in full view. But the reality here is that we can never compromise our values or our beliefs in the service of fighting the war on terror. It's not an either/or proposition, it's a both/and proposition. We can uphold our ideals at the same time that we aggressively defend our borders and aggressively fight a war on terror.

I would also add that it's unfair to say that President Obama waited a week or nine days or however long to respond.

Did he wait a bit too long to give a public statement?

Yes. But his -- but his agency was right on the money, right on the ball immediately after the Christmas attack. There were many things going on behind-the-scenes. There was much interrogation going on. There were many deals being negotiated. A lot was going on. So it's unfair to say that he just sat there asleep at the wheel while nothing -- while things were going on.

KING: Amanda, if we give up our Constitutional rights, isn't that just what the terrorists want?

AMANDA CARPENTER, REPORTER & BLOGGER, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": Well, I don't think we're giving up our Constitutional rights if we're talking about the date -- debate where we give people who are committing acts of -- attempted acts of terrorism, whether we give them a lawyer or not.

Listen, this guy, he tried to blow up a U.S. airline on Christmas Day. He met with Al Qaeda. He was directed by Al Qaeda and he carried -- and tried to carry out their mission. And when he gets here, he's given a lawyer. And there's a very legitimate debate going on right now about whether we should be treating these people as enemy combatants or by giving them a lawyer and Miranda rights and putting them through the trial. And this is grinding on the American psyche when you talk about the closing of Guantanamo Bay, bringing KSM here for a trial. All this is piling up. And there's a sense that we need to get closure out of some of this so somehow and we're not getting it.

BUCHANAN: And, Larry, you know, we have just heard that administration did a whole lot going on behind the scenes. Listen, they, in a few days after this event, they sent the homeland security director on national television misleading the Americans, saying, oh, the system worked fine. And then this is what she added. She said, well, maybe this is good news here, a silver lining, that we will now have a sense of urgency.

You can say what you want about Dick Cheney, you can say what you want about George Bush, we had a sense of urgency and it's clearly been lost...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: ...in the last year.

LAMONT HILL: But the problem is that...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK...

LAMONT HILL: The problem is that...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on.

LAMONT HILL: That...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Now. Hold it. Hold it. One at a time.

LAMONT HILL: The problem... MILLER: Are you kidding me?

KING: Stephanie?

MILLER: What George Bush -- that was a sense of urgency?

He sat in a classroom looking like he went in his pants, for God's sakes.

LAMONT HILL: Exactly.

MILLER: And it took him how many minutes to respond?

Then he flew away from the danger. He flew over Hurricane Katrina how many days after it happened?

I mean that's ridiculous.

BUCHANAN: Yes, we -- he was on...

MILLER: The president responded when he had the information and he responded to (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: All right, let me get a break, guys. When we come back...

MILLER: ...correctly.

KING: When we come back, one at a time.

We'll be back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: President Obama had a message today for the Muslim world and also for Al Qaeda.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We know that the vast majority of Muslims reject Al Qaeda. But it is clear that Al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations, not just in the Middle East, but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding. That's why I've directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that's why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that Al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including the murder of fellow Muslims, while the United States stand with those who seek justice and progress.

To advance that progress we've sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share -- to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security. That's what America believes in. That's the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We'll be back with our panel right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Amanda Carpenter, let's start with you.

What does the president do about Yemen?

CARPENTER: Well, I think what he's got to do is get some kind of promise that they will start producing some members of Al Qaeda. There's reports earlier this week that they arrested three people, but I think we're going to need a heck of a lot more than that before we start sending troops in ourselves.

KING: Stephanie?

MILLER: Well, you know, yes, I mean, I think this points up, though, Larry, exactly why the Bush administration had the wrong strategy on -- on terrorism and they have no grounds to criticize the president now. The worst security failure in our history happened on their watch, despite numerous warnings. Then they let the people behind it go at Tora Bora, attacked the wrong country, in Iraq.

They have no credibility on this matter.

CARPENTER: Well, I don't think, Stephanie...

MILLER: What are we going to do, bomb every country?

Are going to bomb Yemen now?

CARPENTER: I wish...

MILLER: We need to fight a top smart war on terror and we need intelligence sharing.

CARPENTER: I wish Stephanie...

MILLER: That's what we need.

LAMONT HILL: But we also...

CARPENTER: ...would have gotten the president's memo on behaving like citizens right now when we're attacked with these kind of attacks. But if you do want to talk about somebody that should be blamed in the briefing today, it's Secretary Janet Napolitano. She was asked...

MILLER: Excuse me, but the right...

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: She was asked in that briefing... MILLER: The right is the one politicizing this, Amanda.

CARPENTER: ...what was the most surprising thing...

MILLER: But you know what...

CARPENTER: ...that you found...

KING: One at a time.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time, girls.

MILLER: ...never politicized this after 9/11.

CARPENTER: OK.

MILLER: And we never politicized this after the shoe bomber.

CARPENTER: You know...

MILLER: The right is the one that's politicizing this now.

KING: All right. Let me get...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let me get Bay and Marc in...

LAMONT HILL: But I mean...

KING: Marc?

LAMONT HILL: Let's be...

(CROSSTALK)

LAMONT HILL: Let's be...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold it. Hold it. Hold it.

Let Marc comment and then Bay.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: OK, Marc.

KING: Marc?

LAMONT HILL: I mean I tend to support President Obama on his -- on some of these tactics. But the reality here is that the Obama administration certainly dropped the ball here. There -- there's no doubt about that. President Obama was courageous enough today to step up and say, look, there were enormous intelligence gaps. We had enough information to stop this from happening and we failed. That's an important thing.

Should someone lose their job?

Perhaps. But I think President Obama is doing something wise by being deliberative and not being completely reactionary.

My only concern with President Obama is, with regard to Yemen and with regard to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere else, is that if we continue to engage in militaristic policies that galvanize terrorists and if we continue to engage in language that is really covertly anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rather than anti-terrorist -- and that's what Obama is trying to get away from -- then we're going to continue to radicalize and recruit more terrorists to attack the United States.

MILLER: Right.

LAMONT HILL: So it has to be a very balanced...

KING: All right (INAUDIBLE).

LAMONT HILL: ...thoughtful approach.

BUCHANAN: There's no question...

KING: In a sense, Bay, he's saying that we create the terrorists.

BUCHANAN: Well, there's -- there's no question. He makes an excellent point. You know, you go over there to Iraq, you have a war, you -- you aggravate people and it ends up creating more terrorists than we kill.

KING: Yes.

BUCHANAN: I would -- I don't disagree with that. But at the same time, when there is an act of war against this country and our commander-in-chief does not respond with something more than soft words, it -- we are in trouble. They will come after us again. He has -- it was -- it was Barack Obama who said we're not going to use "war on terror" anymore because it's so offensive to people, we will talk about individual extremists or -- or man-caused disasters.

Well, excuse me, hopefully, from Christmas Day now, he understands we are at war with Al Qaeda and he best respond as...

LAMONT HILL: Yes, but he...

BUCHANAN: ...a commander-in-chief and not as some kind of English professor trying to come up with different words on how to talk about it.

KING: Stephanie...

LAMONT HILL: But -- but...

KING: Stephanie, don't you agree, Stephanie, that these are perilous times?

MILLER: Well, yes. And that's a completely false criticism of the president that the right is making, Larry. If you -- you know, just use the Google, as George Bush called it. He says the words terror and war on terror and terrorism many times. I think he understands it. I think we disagree on how to fight it. And, Bay, my point is you can't do it militarily. I think you agree on that. You can't now go bomb Yemen. I mean we -- we've...

BUCHANAN: You take action when they come after us, just as we did...

MILLER: Sure.

BUCHANAN: ...in Afghanistan, Stephanie. And -- and that is absolutely certain...

LAMONT HILL: But that's a straw argument...

BUCHANAN: We must take strong action today.

LAMONT HILL: But that's a straw argument. At no point did President Obama suggest that we should not take action.

BUCHANAN: I agree.

LAMONT HILL: I've never met anybody on that -- even Dennis Kucinich doesn't say that we shouldn't take action if someone attacks us. So it becomes a straw argument to suggest that President Obama doesn't want to be tough on terror.

KING: Now, Amanda...

LAMONT HILL: You don't need big words.

KING: The -- the right-wing is criticizing that he doesn't say terror. I believe he said it 11 times today.

CARPENTER: Yes, he said it. I mean he talks about how this was an attempted act of terror.

But I do want to say, the most shocking thing that came out of the press conference today were statements made by Secretary Janet Napolitano. She was asked what were the most surprising things that you found in this intelligence review.

And she said, one, the determination of Al Qaeda. We all know how determined Al Qaeda is, but she said this was a surprise.

And, two, that they -- they tried to attack us with a lone suspect. We have seen this before. We know they use suicide bombers. So it is shocking that she thinks these were two of -- the two most shocking things that came out of this review. People have been calling for her head and I think when people review that tape, that those calls will be renewed.

LAMONT HILL: I think that's a bit un -- I think that critique is a bit unfair. I mean the reality is the Obama -- even if -- the Obama administration certainly didn't underestimate Al Qaeda's determination. They've been at it for over a (INAUDIBLE)...

CARPENTER: That's what she said.

LAMONT HILL: No, no, I...

CARPENTER: She was asked. Go look at the tape.

LAMONT HILL: No, I'm not doubting what was on the tape, Amanda, that's my point. I'm saying that she gave a bad press conference, as she did -- as she's done for the second time in a row now. I think she's really bad at talking to the media.

But the Obama administration, to be sure, doesn't think that Al Qaeda isn't tough. What they did underestimate, though, was the -- the capacity of Al Qaeda in Yemen.

What they thought was an aspirational terrorist practice was actually far more developed than they ever thought. They dropped the ball on that. They -- there was an intelligence gap.

KING: Thanks...

LAMONT HILL: But let's not think (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: All right, guys...

LAMONT HILL: Sorry, Larry.

KING: Thanks to everybody.

We'll be having you back.

No, thank you, Marc.

Stephanie Miller, Bay Buchanan, Marc Lamont Hill and Amanda Carpenter.

And now we're going to talk about another very serious issue. It affects millions of Americans -- weight, obesity.

But first, it's time for another great CNN Hero.

It's our first in 2010.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WYNONA WARD, PROTECTING THE POWERLESS: When I was growing up on a rural back road, family violence was an accepted way of life. My father raped me and beat my mother and my other siblings. When the neighbors heard screaming coming from our home, they just turned their heads.

For domestic violence victims in rural areas, it can be very devastating. They're out there with no access to in-town services.

My name is Wynona Ward.

The turning point for me was when a child in my family revealed that she had been abused by my father and my brother. And I just said this has to stop.

When I graduated from law school, I was 48 years old

Good morning, my dear.

I go to people's homes, give them in-home consultations, provide them with free legal services and transportation to and from court hearings. I can understand them and they know that I will be there to protect them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) * KING: Welcome back. Carnie Wilson is here, singer, entertainer and host of "The Newlywed Game" on GSN, and star of the new reality series "Carnie Wilson Unstapled," which, by the way, premiers January 14th on GSN. She underwent gastric bypass surgery in 1999.

Jillian Michaels is back. She's a health and wellness expert and trainer on NBC's "The Biggest Loser." She's the author, by the way, of "Master Your Metabolism."

Let's begin by taking a look at a clip from Carnie's new reality show "Carnie Unstapled."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARNIE WILSON, "CARNIE UNSTAPLED": I don't know about this one. With my very pale calves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me try something.

WILSON: Can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will help give you the waist.

WILSON: The waist I don't have?

Do I feel like I'm going to lift off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can tweak the sleeves a little. Let me give you something else.

WILSON: Do you like it? Whoa. I feel like I'm about to go to the prom. Veins coming out. I hate mirrors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Carnie, why has weight been such a problem to you?

WILSON: Oh, gosh.

KING: Looking back, why?

WILSON: It's been my Achilles' heel. It's my life story.

KING: As a kid?

WILSON: Oh, yeah, four years old, yeah. I think that it will probably always be a struggle. I think that I've been up. I've been down. It might be that way forever. I crave and strive for balance.

KING: How up have you been?

WILSON: I've been up to over 300 pounds.

KING: How down?

WILSON: I've been low as 148, 146.

KING: Don't you miss the 148?

WILSON: Yeah. I mean, I miss maybe wearing a size six. But, you know, what I don't miss is having, you know, things associated with morbid obesity. I was very, very sick at 300 pounds. And I had sleep apnea. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol. I was pre- diabetic. My liver was inflamed. I was in really, really bad, poor health at 31. I have none of those now. So I'm very grateful.

KING: Jillian, amazing statistic, two thirds of adults, 67 percent, are overweight or obese. With all the emphasis on the shows, your show, the rest, why?

MICHAELS: I actually believe it's a matter of economics. And, of course, people that are prone to that type of self-destruction. We all have dysfunction. I think it manifests in different ways for many people.

KING: Sixty seven percent?

MICHAELS: I really do believe that's a matter of economics. When I say that, I think it's because Americans don't realize what they're eating. Now, you know, with the dollar menu, everybody is struggling to make ends meet. When you can get a burger and fries for a buck, I think it's difficult. I think that's a huge part of the problem.

WILSON: I agree. I don't think -- I mean, I wouldn't say obesity is a dysfunction. I mean, obesity is a disease. There's definitely people that are predisposed --

KING: Childhood obesity, is that a disease? The kid wants French Fries.

WILSON: I think there's a huge genetic component here. If there's a child that has the obesity gene -- they have discovered that there is -- if they eat that stuff, by the time they're 12, 13, 14, they'll be more obese than other people.

KING: What was gastric bypass surgery like?

WILSON: It was life save -- it was life saving.

KING: How many pounds did it take off?

WILSON: It took off 150.

KING: In one operation?

WILSON: No, no. It was over the course of a year and a half, with obviously much less calories taken in, mixed with exercise and a definite change of lifestyle. I have changed my lifestyle. I don't eat fried foods anymore. Sugar is hard. But I could snack all day long and the weight can creep up. It's not an answer or a cure for morbid obesity. But it's definitely a cure for Type II Diabetes, and it took away all my comorbidities.

But I strive for health. I'm not perfect. My message is that I'm not perfect. I strive for balance.

KING: Exercise is just one of the instruments. Right?

MICHAELS: Absolutely.

KING: It's your baby, but it's one of the instruments.

MICHAELS: You can eat your way through any amount of exercise. A piece of pizza is 500 calories and so is an hour on the treadmill.

WILSON: Right, true. Calories in, calories out.

MICHAELS: Without a doubt. Exercise accelerates weight loss. It, In my opinion, is number one form of preventive medicine. You shouldn't skip exercise. But it is not the sole solution. It's a combination of diet, exercise, doing the emotional work, taking care of yourself internally as well.

KING: A man who lost more than half his body weight and gained a brand new life is here. The latest "Biggest Loser" winner is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK, Carnie and Jillian remain, and Danny Cahill joins us, the winner of the eighth season of NBC's "The Biggest Loser." Get this, Danny lost 239 pounds, more than half his body weight. He lost 56 percent of his body weight. Let's take a look at how he did it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Danny, your starting weight is 430 pounds.

DANNY CAHILL, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": This thing has stolen my life. I want my life back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that word, believe, okay? Right there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do it! Press. One more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Pop it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Danny C. is a freak.

CAHILL: I'm not afraid to believe that I can do what I need to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Maybe the greatest "Biggest Loser" ever. When you look at that now, and you look at your 460 pound self, what do you think?

CAHILL: I remember what it felt like and it hurt. It did hurt. I was terribly unhealthy. I had high blood pressure.

KING: How did it get to that?

CAHILL: You know, it was a combination of not being mentally right. I put away my dreams, my aspirations for something else. So I stopped making myself a priority. And then it was also, you know, eating the wrong things and not exercising. It was exactly the opposite of what Jillian said. You know, it's a combination of diet and exercise and mine was neither.

KING: Do you fear a reversal of form?

CAHILL: You know, it's --

KING: When you see Carnie talk about up and downs all her life.

CAHILL: I've been there too. This season was called "Second Chance." I was overweight and obese until I was 15. Then I lost about 80 -- 75 to 80 pounds over a summer, because I just put my mind to it and said I'm tired for this. I kept it off for eight, almost nine years.

KING: Then what happened?

CAHILL: Then I -- it started when I got engaged and got comfortable. You know how you get comfortable and kind of -- you know, I got engaged, so I'm going to quit running now. I don't have time to run right now. You know, I started putting away the exercise and I got comfortable and it didn't stop from there. It just escalated.

KING: Jillian, are you comfortable he's set now?

MICHAELS: I'm actually very comfortable. Danny had a psychological shift early on in the show. And we had a moment about it. And I realize that he grasped -- he was capable of more. He believed he was worth it.

KING: Carnie, when you look at something like that, what do you think? You look fantastic.

WILSON: I relate. I -- it's touching. It's moving. It's inspiring. You know, I've been there and I know what it feels like to be completely depleted of all of yourself and your spirit just crashing. Going to feeling that inspiration and that deserving of being in better health.

KING: What about the show did it for you?

CAHILL: You know, what the show was, I think, was my accountability. You know, I had reached a point where I was going to do something about it, but -- and I had done things about it a few years before. But I would always retract and stop. And it was lack of accountability.

I think the show -- what the show gave me was the accountability. Hey, you're out there. You know, you have to do it now. You need to be accountable to someone. I was accountable to the whole country.

KING: What do you do for a living?

CAHILL: I was a land surveyor and musician.

KING: Now?

CAHILL: Now I'm doing music and I'm going to do some inspirational motivational speaking and some other things. I want to --

KING: Do you win money on that show?

CAHILL: Yes, I won a 250,000 dollars.

KING: That's a pretty good incentive.

CAHILL: That was a very good incentive. That's not why I went though. I went to get my life back. Then when she's talking about I had the switch, that's when I actually pictured myself, I can do this; I can be the "Biggest Loser."

KING: We're going to meet a family -- they're in North Carolina. Everybody in the family is over 300 pounds. Can you fathom that?

WILSON: Absolutely. It's genetic. That's very common.

MICHAELS: It is -- people are genetically predisposed. But you can control your genetics. Genetics are dynamic. They're not static.

CAHILL: My father was not overweight. My mother was overweight. And, you know, it does tend to run in the family. You can do something about it. You can do something about it. You have to get this right. KING: We'll take a break and a family that's packed on the pounds wants to put a stop to it all. They want to end eating and stop doing the wrong things. Mom, dad, brother and sister in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're joined by a family now in Indian Trail, North Carolina, that loves each other and losing weight together. Norris Coles, the dad, stars in TLC's "One Big Happy Family," along with his daughter, Amber, his son, Shayne, and mom, Tameka. Each weighs more than 300 pounds. They've decided to get fit as a family without the help of trainers or nutritionists.

Here is a clip from "One Big Happy Family."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAMEKA COLES, "ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY": That does kind of make me feel guilty that these are habits they learned early on. Norris and I, I think that we both were to blame.

We got to make some changes.

SHAYNE COLES, "ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY": I think we should all try together. I need the family's help.

T. COLES: Did you hear that?

S. COLES: I heard it.

T. COLES: OK. Thank you, doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without his family's cooperation, Shayne is going to be -- Shayne will develop Diabetes within two years unless this entire family works together. As you look at Shayne's mom and you look at Shayne's dad, it's pretty clear to me that the entire family's at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Tamika Coles, how did this start? You're 36 years old. You weigh 380 pounds. How did this start?

T. COLES: Well, you mean as far as the weight gain?

KING: Yeah.

T. COLES: Well, basically, Larry, food is really good. Food is our comfort. It has been forever. And we've always just loved to eat and never really exercise. So the pounds just started adding up and packing on.

KING: Didn't you realize, though, how it was affecting your children? T. COLES: You know, I've never -- I never really looked at it as me hurting them. I never really looked at it as them really being at risk, until really we went to the doctor's office that day and God basically spoke to my husband, me, and my kids, through the doctors, and that's when the red light went off and said, OK. There's a problem here. And we need to do something about it.

KING: We're going to take break and find out what you're doing and get the thoughts of our panel here in Los Angeles as well. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Back to the Coles family. Norris, you're the father and weigh 340 pounds. As a family, what do you try to do together to get rid of this problem?

NORRIS COLES, "ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY": Well, as a family, Larry, we try to stay focused on basically losing weight. And the way we're doing it is through a buddy system. We're going to the gym. We're watching what we eat. We're eating good food. I mean, we're eating food that's organic. All this stuff is new to us, but it's working.

I mean, we're losing drastic weight. Our confidence is up. Shayne's Diabetes is down. My high blood pressure is down. My cholesterol is down. It's working.

KING: Amber, did you --

N. COLES: My doctor told me to keep to what I'm doing.

KING: Amber, did you want to go on the "The Biggest Loser?"

AMBER COLES, "ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY": No, I never wanted to go on "The Biggest Loser."

MICHAELS: Who could blame her?

KING: Could they go on as a family, Jillian?

MICHAELS: On "The Biggest Loser," the most we've had is couples so far, parents and kids, brothers and sisters. I'm going to be dealing with families on my new show, "Losing It." So hopefully I could work with a family like that. But it doesn't seem like they need me. It seems like they're doing amazing on their own, and that's really inspirational.

KING: Shayne, you're only 14. Have you -- is it hard for you not to eat those Oreo Cookies?

S. COLES: Actually, at first, it was hard for me not to eat Oreo Cookies. But I realized that it was something I had to do, something I had to change, so I could better myself. I mean, I don't want to die early just for Oreos. KING: What do you make of this, Carnie?

WILSON: You know, I feel for them. I wish them all the best of luck. I think the buddy system is incredible. They can really inspire each other. I think the main thing to be concerned with is their health, like he was saying. That was a brilliant comment because it is a realization. They have to do it for themselves individually. They can't do it for everybody else, especially because they're on a TV show. I know what that's like to be under a microscope and have the world watch you lose weight or gain weight.

KING: Danny, what do you make as you look at this family?

CAHILL: You know, it brings back a lot of memories, because what inspired me to even get up and get moving and get on "The Biggest Loser" was my daughter. My wife became overweight. My daughter came in and said, daddy, I want a belly just like yours. I caught her closet eating like I was her when I was young.

So the fact that they're all going to be accountable to each other, using the buddy system, it works because my wife lost 70 pounds while I was on the show.

KING: Tameka, the mother of all this, are you confident you and the family are going to lick this?

T. COLES: Absolutely. I'm very confident and they're very confident. It's going to happen. Whether we're on the show or not, it's going to happen.

KING: We'll take a break. It's time for home inspection. We're going to look at what's in the Coles' refrigerator after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Carnie Wilson, Jillian Michaels and Danny Cahill are with us in LA. In Indian Trail, North Carolina, the Coles family, Norris, Tameka, Amber and Shayne. And Tameka is now at the family refrigerator. What's in there? What are you going to show us?

T. COLES: OK, Larry. I'm glad you want to look and see what's in here. Well, now we have a lot of fruits and vegetables, especially like cucumbers. We really love cucumbers. So we eat a lot of these. We have fresh green beans. I like to cook fresh foods.

And everybody knows Norris' favorite, spinach. Now we have spinach in here as well. And we don't use regular cheese anymore. Everything is kind of fat free or low fat. Apples. And we don't use regular, like, miracle whip. We use Mayo with olive oil now.

KING: What's in the freezer?

COLES: In the freezer we have a lot of veggies, a whole bunch of veggies. We do have those times when we have cheap days and we don't want to go out because always stalking us, you know. So we do have times when we cheat. We have these hot dog things. We love these things. They're the bomb. Ground turkey.

KING: No ice cream?

COLES: No ice cream. We had to give up ice cream because they love ice cream too much. They can't have ice cream.

KING: that's impressive, is it not, Carnie?

WILSON: It is. They're on the right track. I know for me, when I have brown rice, lots of veggies, fresh organic food, that I make taste really great, that I'm happy to be eating that food. If it doesn't taste great, then I'm not happy. I don't like to feel deprived. I don't have to be deprived.

KING: What did you Do, Danny, when you're hungry? You're on this big diet but you're hungry.

CAHILL: When I was hungry, you know, I tended to -- what I did was I started to eat more meals throughout the day and a little less calories.

KING: Smaller meals. What do you do, Norris, when you're hungry?

N. COLES: When I'm hungry, what I do, I just eat a Bocca Burger, or I might eat something fresh like a grapefruit or papaya. It's a whole different transition in my brain. So it's working good and I'm sticking with it and I'm getting good results. That's what I do when I'm hungry.

KING: Amber, are you all under doctors care?

A. COLES: Yes. We're all under doctors care. And it's very important. Before we started any of this, we all consulted our doctor.

KING: Shayne, do your classmates make fun of you?

S. COLES: No. My classmates do not make fun of me. My classmates love me, as far as I know. And they're proud of me for making this lifestyle change.

KING: You're very lovable.

WILSON : I love him.

KING: What about exercise, Jillian? Should they be exercising?

MICHAELS: Seems like you guys are exercising. The trick with exercise is it's going to accelerate your weight loss. So Danny lost 100 pounds in, what, eight, seven weeks?

CAHILL: Nine weeks.

MICHAELS: That's exercise. That's totally unrealistic. But the reason it was so fast is because he was exercising so much. I have to advocate exercise, without a doubt.

KING: There they are exercising. Carnie, they put a lot of pressure on themselves by going on television. It could be embarrassing if they gain weight.

WILSON: If they don't lose it or they gain. All I can say is they have to keep in mind that they're doing it for themselves. They're doing it as a family. They're going to inspire people. That's why I had a gastric bypass on the Internet. I wanted people to know that's an option. Medical intervention is an option. It works for some people.

KING: Should they think of gastric bypass?

WILSON: You know, I have to say a very staggering statistic. And that is that only one percent of people that lose over 100 pounds will keep that weight off. And medical intervention is sometimes necessary.

KING: That's hardly encouraging.

WILSON: You know, I applaud them. I encourage them for doing it the right way, which is exercise and diet. However, I did that along with a gastric bypass. That worked for me.

KING: Guys, the best of luck for you. Norris Coles, Tameka Coles, Amber Coles, Shayne Coles. We're going to follow you. We're going to follow you. In six months, I'm going into that refrigerator again. Better not be frozen pizza.

Thank you, Carnie Wilson, Jillian Michaels, Danny Cahill, and the Coles family. Don't forget Carnie's show "Unstapled." It premieres on GSN January 14th. Looking forward to that.

Richard Heene, the man who had a lot of people believing his son was in a runaway balloon, is here tomorrow night with a balloon with him. Don't miss tomorrow night. Don't miss right now. It's Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?