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RICK'S LIST

NATO Offensive in Afghanistan Continues; Church Arson Suspects Arrested; American Middle Class Under Increasing Economic Strain; Danica Patrick Interviewed

Aired February 22, 2010 - 15:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Here's what's making THE LIST --

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hello, may name is the Republican Party and I've got a problem. I'm addicted to spending and big government.

SANCHEZ: Glenn Beck getting their attention at CPAC. And this interesting moment -- lambasting gay rights, but getting a pushback.

BECK: The lesbians at Smith College protest better than you do.

They are so desperate, that it is unbelievable.

SANCHEZ: The president puts out a healthcare plan, but republicans still don't like it.

Burning down churches in Texas, did these two do it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last couple weeks, just kind of had the feeling as a parent that sometime not quite right.

SANCHEZ: And joining me, Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine on why our government seems broken, Anne Coulter on her disagreement with him, and him, on Dick Cheney.

And Danica Patrick, part two.

The lists you need to know about. Who is "Today's Most Intriguing Person"? Who is on "The List You Don't Want To Be On"? We'll find out as our national conversation on Twitter, on the air starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody, I'm Rick Sanchez. Making the list right now in your national conversation --

A suspected terrorist is in court right now and is expected to plead guilty in a plot to build and explode bombs in New York City on the anniversary of September 11th. We're expecting that this is going to be happening within the next couple of minutes. That's why we're going to be all over this story.

Here is some of the video that we have been following. Najibullah Zazi, he was arrested in September. His intention was to use explosives in New York subways and he was going to make his bombs with peroxide, with acetone and with muriatic (ph) acid from hair and nail products. At least two other men are indicted in this case.

We're hearing that within the next couple of hours, Attorney General Eric Holder is going to be holding a news conference on this and we're going to bring you this story, obviously as it develops.

Meanwhile, this is another story that we're going to start with. When Republican Scott Brown won the Senate race in Massachusetts, the cry from coast to coast and you remember it well, was, health care reform is "D" dead. Now, four weeks later, the White House is reviving it with a point-by-point plan and this health care summit on Thursday, which Republicans are calling a setup.

Let me show you what they posted on their website today. This is from the White House, this is interesting. He wants to go point by point so Americans get into this website, and you see it right there as I'm looking at it. What will the president's proposal mean for you?

And then it goes on to tell you, if you are a person who's already insured, click here, this is what it means. If you're not insured, click here. If you want more insurance, click here. If you want to know if you can keep your doctor, like it says right there, then click right there.

See, it's actual point-by-point delivery system that's being offered by the White House today on health care, apparently the president's idea.

Now, Republicans, though, are saying that the White House is actually laying a trap for them with the website and with the proposal and with the meeting that's scheduled for Thursday.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian is joining me now. Dan, I'm not quite sure, as I looked at this and read on it throughout the day, whether I understood what Republicans meant by a trap. Can you help us explain what they mean by their fear of a trap?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. When they're talking about the trap, they're talking about this meeting that's going to be televised, being billed as a bipartisan effort to sit down, Republicans and Democrats and hash something out, to be able to move health care reform forward. But the concern from some Republicans is that they're going to be forced to either compromise or push back from the table and be seen as obstructionists, as the party of no.

Now, the White House is saying, listen, the president is open to good ideas. He wants to hear those good ideas, that this plan that was unveiled today is really a starting point, an opening bid, if you will, said one White House aide and so they want good ideas. They're open to good ideas. They're hopeful that that can happen on Thursday.

But, you know, the problem is -- the problem here, Rick, is that the White House is coming to the table with a plan and Republicans are saying we should be starting from scratch.

SANCHEZ: Well, but that's just it, though. For open transparency, one side needs to come with a plan. Look, here's my plan, now tell me what you've got and maybe we can work this out. I don't understand how by bringing a plan to them, he's laying a trap. I still do not understand that. I don't understand the argument period.

LOTHIAN: That is their argument that we're being called in, Republicans being called into a meeting on this bipartisan spirit and the president is coming already with a plan on the table, so they're going to be forced to either compromise or walk away from the table. That's -- that's the trap that they're seeing but you're right, certainly what the White House is saying is give us your best shot here. In fact, you heard Robert Gibbs at the briefing today telling Republicans that they should put together a plan, put it out there on the web, in fact, even offering to post it on the White House website, so they could have a plan, the president could have a plan and then they can talk about how they can make those two come together.

SANCHEZ: Now, there are some who want to go beyond the president. I mean, the president seemingly -- maybe we're misreading this, seemingly trying to appear as transparent as he can in his plans for health care reform. Some Democrats, on the other hand, are saying no, Mr. President, you're wrong, we want you to go further. These guys want to push reform right through the Republicans' throats with some kind of strategy that's called reconciliation, which I think, by the way, most Americans don't understand. You would be doing us a favor by trying to explain this to us.

LOTHIAN: That's right. Reconciliation is simply this procedural maneuver in which you can pass health care with a simple 51 majority vote. As you know, everyone was talking about how we have this super- majority here with the 60 votes and then the big race in Massachusetts changed that. It was no longer filibuster proof. And so therefore they could ram this through with 51 votes. The White House obviously saying this is an option, but not something that they're saying openly now that they're willing to support. They want this meeting on Thursday to be a chance where ideas can be hashed through and hopefully that they can get this done in an up-or-down vote.

SANCHEZ: It seems like some of those -- and by the way, I saw that list start last week with a couple of Dems and then suddenly there were four, then six. I think it's all the way up to like 16, 17 or 18 or something like that now, isn't it?

LOTHIAN: Right. I believe so.

SANCHEZ: You know, what's interesting, it seems like some of those Democrats are saying to the president -- take it for what it's worth, Mr. President, but stop negotiating with these guys. These guys hate you and they're not going to go along with anything you say, just do what you want to do, 51 is enough of a majority. By the way, could you explain to our viewers as well, now that we've got you explaining things why suddenly 60 is a majority and not 51. Where did that math start?

LOTHIAN: Well, 60 was when you had the majority in the Senate. I talked about the Massachusetts race. When they lost that one seat, which was the Kennedy seat, as everyone called it, Scott Brown won. You have a Republican, so you no longer have that super majority. That's why they couldn't just --

SANCHEZ: So, look and again, I know this might sound a little bit remedial, but really it's all about the filibuster.

LOTHIAN: It really is.

SANCHEZ: Our government is run on the fear of filibusters isn't it?

LOTHIAN: That certainly is one of the big concerns that they'll filibuster and then how do you get health care reform pushed through?

SANCHEZ: Let me stop you on that, just curious citizen here. So what? They filibuster, you go on and do it anyway. Hasn't this -- haven't there been long filibusters in the past in our history for things that some people felt was important enough to fight the good fight on?

LOTHIAN: That's right, throughout history and in fact you heard Robert Gibbs talking about that today, laying it out, different cases in the past where in fact filibuster, where it was used -- rather, reconciliation was used to get something done. So that's nothing new. That certainly could take place, but certainly what the White House wants to do is show that there's this spirit here of bipartisanship, that they're making this effort to bring Republicans to the table to hash things out and again saying that the president's open to these good ideas. They're sort of extending this offer to Republicans.

But again, you know, the pushback coming from Capitol Hill, from Republicans there saying, if you really want to do this right, you have to start from scratch. As one of the my colleagues pointed out today, the president comes to the table on the 100th floor and Republicans wants to start down on the ground floor.

SANCHEZ: What an interesting analogy. Thanks for explaining it to us that way. I think somehow they all need to get to the 50th floor, right?

LOTHIAN: That's right.

SANCHEZ: Good luck doing so. Hey, Dan, good stuff. I enjoyed the conversation and I think it's illustrative for many people watching on this day to see what's going on. The big surprise is Dan, that this thing is not dead. As they say in that Frankenstein movie "it's alive."

LOTHIAN: That's right. That's right. We thought last year, the end of last year when the administration was looking toward this year saying, you know, we're going to reboot. We're going to start all over and focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. Now, you know, it went back, it was dead, now it's back, they're trying to revive it. Health care is certainly on the front burner now and they're hoping they can get this thing done.

SANCHEZ: I hope we were able to give our audience a bit of a perspective on where this thing stands. Dan Lothian, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

LOTHIAN: OK, my pleasure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNE COULTER, GOP STRATEGIST: I think Cheney is doing a fine job and we do need somebody out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: OK. On this show, that was Ann Coulter talking to me about defending Dick Cheney. But now look who's not defending Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and General Petraeus. You're going to hear about what they're saying about the former VP in just a little bit.

Also, in a few minutes, is our government broken because our elected officials are more beholden to their needs than our needs? Think about that for just a moment. I'm going to be taking you through it.

Let me be more specific, by the way, on this issue. What if I told you that for every two companies that your government loans money to, at least one of them won't be able to repay. That's repaying you, folks and me as taxpayers. Yet the government keeps giving them money anyway. We're going to explain this one to you, if it's even explainable.

Stick around. We'll be right back drilling down on this. This is THE LIST. I'm Rick Sanchez.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back to THE LIST. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Do you remember last week when former Vice President Dick Cheney got the loudest ovation at CPAC, so I invited Ann Coulter, who exemplifies the hard line spirit of CPAC I believe and I asked her why anti-spend conservatives meeting there at CPAC would give a standing ovation to a former vice president whose administration ran up the deficit to $1.2 trillion, even though they were handed a surplus. I thought it was a fair question.

I asked Coulter as well about Cheney's record and some of those who have criticized him on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here's how she defended him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COULTER: It's nice to have one man taking the lead defending the conservative position on national security which most of all seems to entail acknowledging that there is a war on terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: But interestingly enough this weekend, two top experts on our national security disagreed with Mr. Cheney on some of these key issues. General David Petraeus is the head of CENTCOM and he was commander in Iraq during the troop increase when Vice President Dick Cheney was in office. Petraeus on "Meet the Press" this weekend disagreed with his former vice president on the record. He told the host that he still favors closing Guantanamo and he says the use of extreme interrogation tactics favored by Vice President Dick Cheney just do not work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Whenever we have perhaps taken expedient measures they have turned around and bitten us in the back side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Meanwhile, here's another one, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff when Dick Cheney was the Defense secretary says that Cheney is flat wrong when he says that America is less safe with President Barack Obama sitting in the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET): My bottom-line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They are trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration I don't think are borne out by the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: By the way, Powell didn't stop without criticizing the Obama administration. Mr. Powell was critical of President Obama's handling of the Christmas day bomber. Mr. Powell said that there was a lack of coordination among some of the Federal agencies that were involved.

Can you believe these pictures? Totally unexpected, by the way and as relentless as anything gets. I'm going to be showing you what happened as the cameras rolled in Portugal and the type of natural disaster that truly you just don't see every single day and certainly not caught on camera, as this thing was. I want you to see this play out with your own eyes.

Also, let's just ask this. Are politicians in Washington spending too much of your money -- and they're not spending it for you. They're really spending it for them. What do I mean by that? I'll explain.

Also, tomorrow independent Senator Bernie Sanders and a tea party candidate are going to be joining us to discuss this question of how our money is being spent by our elected officials.

I'm Rick Sanchez. This is THE LIST. We're scrolling on and we're so glad you're there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. That's why we call this RICK'S LIST to have a national conversation because we involve what you are saying as well as what some of the elected officials were saying as well. We follow them as well as we follow you.

Let's start with them. This is Representative Shimkus. He is no doubt a Republican and he says on healthcare, we need to start over with a blank sheet of paper.

And then let's go over to what you're saying. Here we hear someone who may agree with the representative. He says -- tort reform, lowering cost of drugs should be included in the health care reform. Without tort, you can't reduce health care costs.

All the way down at the bottom, we've got somebody who agrees with the president, not the Republicans. He says, hey amen, Rick. Let the Republicans filibuster and stand firm against it. By the way, my suggestion about the filibuster was a question, not a mandate, obviously enough.

Eighty six percent, 86 percent of us believe that the government in the United States is broken. For many, the problem is simply Washington is just spending too much of our money and not spending it in the right way.

All week long CNN is taking a closer look at our broken government and how we can possibly make it ours once again, just fix it somehow. Joining us from the city that seems like a dirty word to most Americans these days, Washington, DC, we have two guests. Ryan Alexander is the president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. And Michael Scherer is a White House correspondent at "Time" magazine. Their cover story this week, who would have guessed it -- why Washington is frozen. We're going to get to Michael in just a little bit. But let me begin with Ryan, last week the Obama administration announced $8 billion in loan guarantees for the first nuclear power plant in 30 years. By the way, conservatives love this and a lot of progressives love it as well, because you know, no carbon footprint, cheaper energy. It will help us in the long run, they all say, but you're here to tell us that it's another example of what's wrong with government. Teach us. Ryan.

RYAN ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: We think this loan guarantee is a really bad idea and the entire program in fact is a bad idea. What the Obama administration announced was an $8.3 billion conditional loan guarantee for the building of two new reactors in Georgia. The problem with this is that time and time again, we've seen that the nuclear power industry is an incredibly high risk industry. These projects are really capital intensive and the Congressional Budget Office has estimated the default rates will be as high as 50 percent. So Wall Street, in the days when they were totally willing to risk packaging together mortgages to people with no income and no jobs, was unwilling to lend to the nuclear power industry. Yet the government is cosigning.

SANCHEZ: I don't get it. What's so hard about building a nuclear power plant? I need money to build a nuclear power plant over here. You loan me this money, I build the plant. Why would I default on something you gave me money to build?

ALEXANDER: This is an industry that has been plagued with cost overruns, with scheduling problems. It's just an industry that hasn't been able to stand on its own two feet. It's been getting subsidies for decades in this country.

SANCHEZ: So why would the government -- so that brings us to the question of the government just gives money hand over fist to agencies and industries and companies, without thinking of the results and without thinking about how it's affecting us, which seems to be why you guys wrote that, Michael on your cover this week. Am I wrong?

MICHAEL SCHERER, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: It's an interesting issue of triangulation. This is the one energy spending project that he can call bipartisan, because Republicans can get on board and hopefully he's hoping it will buy him some political capital so he can spend money on other things like clean energy, solar, wind, things like that that Democrats do like. So it's one of those things, if you give me your project, I'll give you your project.

SANCHEZ: But why in the hell is this about projects, Michael? Why isn't it about what's good for me as an American is good for all of us?

SCHERER: Our entire energy policy right now is based on the Federal government giving money to various sectors. We give money to oil. We give money to gas. We give money to coal. We're giving money to solar.

SANCHEZ: Wait, let me stop you because then those same people who we are giving money to and by the way it's like you have a pea in your pocket, because I'm not giving it to them, my elected officials are. But then the same people that we give money to then give money to the politicians for their campaigns. The more they give, oftentimes, not always, oftentimes, the more they get.

SCHERER: And then those same politicians go out and campaign about how we have to lower the deficit.

SANCHEZ: Just take a hammer and hit me over the head, because it would probably be more obvious. Help us out here, Ryan. What's going on? ALEXANDER: I think that the kind of well-oiled PR and political influence machines of the energy industry are at play. And this is something where voters and people out there in the country need to make sure that their elected representatives know that they expect something more from them, that they expect people to be making decisions in the interest of the voters. The loan guarantee program is a great example. It's easy for politicians. It looks like it's free money to Congress because it's basically having the government cosign a loan and when and if that default comes along, which we very much expect it will in the case of nuclear power particular, that's some other Congress' problem.

SANCHEZ: By the way, by the way, this is not a Republican problem. This is not a Democrat problem.

ALEXANDER: That's right.

SANCHEZ: This is a systematic problem, right?

ALEXANDER: Absolutely. Absolutely. This is not a partisan problem.

SCHERER: And every member of Congress out there has their particular pot they want to fill. So for some it's nuclear, for some it's coal, for some it's oil, for some it's these clean energies that are being developed out in California. You know, that's the issue. What we actually have is a system now which the negotiation is not necessarily the smartest energy policy we can get, but whatever energy policy we can cobble together to get the votes.

And that means essentially giving more and more money. You can't usually go backwards in this process. The president has proposed $38 billion in cuts to oil and gas subsidies as part of his latest budget, but basically nobody in Washington believes he's going to be able to get that, because there are members, including a number of conservative, deficit hawk Republicans who are just never going to allow cuts to those subsidies.

SANCHEZ: By the way, if it's true as our research shows and as the White House continues to brag about, that 95 percent of Americans are getting a tax break under the Obama administration, why does it seem like, when you turn on the TV or you watch some of those tea conferences like -- or the CPAC convention, why does it seem like 95 percent of Americans are getting -- are not getting a tax break? How does that reconcile itself?

SCHERER: It's like an example of policy success. The Obama administration designed that tax break so you wouldn't notice it. They were afraid that if they just sent out checks to people, like the Bush administration did in years past, you would take that check and you would put it in your bank account and you would save it and not spend it. They wanted the money circulating in the system and so they gave it these very small, incremental paycheck adjustments that everyone is getting, but they're so small that no one has noticed they're getting. It's one of these interesting situations which the policy is good, but it's politically bitten the administration back. SANCHEZ: Michael, Ryan, thanks so much for joining us.

We have got some breaking news coming in, so I'm going to take a little shift away from that conversation. Let me share with you what we know.

First of all, terrorism suspect Najibullah Zazi, who I told you about at the beginning of this newscast, he has indeed just pled guilty in New York City to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He pled guilty to three counts as we understand it and let me tell you what those three counts are, as I go through some of this information that we have here -- conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, provide material support to a terrorist organization, al Qaeda, by the way, is the organization that is named. This is a quote from Zazi. I conspired with others to join the Taliban, to fight along with the Taliban and to fight the United States.

Sentencing is set for June 25th. I should tell you that the charges against him is that he tried to get enough material to blow up subways in New York City and was working with certainly chemicals. Most of the chemicals interestingly enough are chemicals that you get from hair and nail products. He's again going to be sentenced on June 25th at 11:00 a.m. We will continue to bring you updates on this story.

Meanwhile, where there's smoke, there is fire and not to mention a toxic cloud, all because a train carrying alcohol and plastic derailed in California. That story is coming up in just a little bit.

Also, who are the two most intriguing people to make RICK'S LIST today? Here's a hint on who's number two.

She is the youngest person to chairs the nation's oldest organization that fights for equality and civil rights and you're about to meet her. Stay right there. We're coming back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. As we continue, there is new information that is now coming in on the -- well, the front in Afghanistan. You know that assault that is being called the Marjah offensive. Apparently it's kind of slow going. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing, but a little more slow going than we expected. And there's also news on the 27 civilians that were killed today during this offensive.

Let's go to Barbara Starr, she's at the Pentagon and she's been picking up new information.

Barbara, what can you share with us?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Rick, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike, Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just finished a press conference here in the Pentagon with the latest. Admiral Mullen had a bit of a surprising remark to make when he said the Marjah offensive is going, in his words, "slower than anticipated," and then he went on to explain why that is.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: By all accounts, the Taliban's resistance has been at best disjointed, but we have experienced difficulties. In some places the enemy fights harder than expected. The IED's he's planted along the road, though crude, are still deadly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: As they say, Rick, no war plan survives first contact with the enemy. The Taliban were supposed to cut and run, but a lot of them are staying and fighting. The number of U.S. troops killed, just consider this -- more than 70 wounded U.S. troops in the last two weeks in that Marjah offensive.

And, as you said, a number of civilian casualties -- it's been a terrible few days for that.

Barbara, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on this. We appreciate it.

STARR: You bet.

SANCHEZ: By the way, as the NATO offensive continues, there's something that you may have missed this weekend. The remains of four marines lost in the battle last week were returned to Dover Air Force base in Delaware -- 22 American service members, 47 NATO soldiers have died so far this month. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Look who's here. Brooke Baldwin is good enough to join us now. How are you?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. We just made a funny during the break.

SANCHEZ: You were filling in for Kyra this morning?

BALDWIN: For Mr. Harris.

SANCHEZ: I watched you and I thought you were a stellar.

BALDWIN: Are you making fun of me?

SANCHEZ: No, I'm complimenting you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. I stuck around for your show, friend. I appreciate that. SANCHEZ: I appreciate that.

I grew up in Florida. And if you grow up in Florida, you get to do one thing that most people don't get to do. When the shuttle goes up, you look up and get to see it on a clear day.

BALDWIN: From Miami?

SANCHEZ: It was one of the coolest things I had as a kid. Talk about cool, let's do "Fotos."

It is hard to avoid looking up when they take off or land. This is from last night. Watch it as it glides to earth quietly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Main gear touchdown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I always wanted to be an astronaut.

SANCHEZ: I always wanted to just say "main gear touchdown."

BALDWIN: "I think that's cool.

SANCHEZ: Say it.

BALDWIN: "Main gear touchdown."

SANCHEZ: Very well done. We'll only see that four more times until the shuttle program is put on permanent hold.

Next video -- look at this. See the smoke? That ain't good, folks. That's a couple train cars that derailed near Bakersfield, California, and pretty much burned all day Sunday. One car was carrying alcohol, another was filled with plastic pellets, a few homes were evacuated to be cautious, but the fire is out, we understand, don't even know what happened yet. They're still investigating.

Listen to this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN SORBA: I'd like to condemn CPAC for bringing go pride to this event. Bring it. Bring it. I love it. I love it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: That's what you call a chilly reception for a guy named Ryan Sorba. He's speaking at CPAC, and he began railing against gay rights advocates. The target of his anger, a Republican gay rights group that was invited to the discussion. The audience seemed to boo him off the stage. Ryan Sorba, look at him. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SORBA: Civil rights when they conflict with natural rights are contrary -- you sit down.

(BOOS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: No, you sit down. This is conflicted. Let's just say he was not well received by this conservative audience.

Here's how this story has been moving. Last week there were suddenly eight, nine, then maybe 10 churches in Texas that had been burned. Two men are in custody by for at least one of those fires. It's starting to look like they may be linking them to other church fires.

The obvious question is, are they responsible for all the others? Who could possibly have been their motive? That's why Brooke Baldwin is joining me, because she has all the details on that story. I am real curious about this.

BALDWIN: We have background on both of them.

SANCHEZ: I have been since last week.

BALDWIN: Awful, crippling communities.

SANCHEZ: I can't wait to hear.

BALDWIN: You got it.

SANCHEZ: Also, how is government's overspending affecting the future of you? You, as an American, how is this affecting you? We're going to ask in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We think it's important to point out people who are making a difference. So we call this "Most Intriguing." Who is today's "Most Intriguing"? This is about a new face for civil rights.

She is breaking a lot of ground, and standing on the shoulders of giants like King and Jackson and Lewis and Young. She held her first position in the NAACP as a teenager. Now 25 years later at age 44, she has become its chair, only the third woman in its history.

Here is what she said yesterday, "It is our goal to extend a broader net to encourage all Americans who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to come and join us." Rosalind Brock is betting that younger voices will make the NAACP's message relevant again. And for that she is our most intriguing.

SANCHEZ: Here is Brooke Baldwin to join me now with more on this situation with these fires that suddenly started out in Texas, and now they think they might have the two guys who have been doing this? BALDWIN: They have arraigned two guys, 19, 21 years old. We started talking about this, Rick, last week, because there were even more fires that were happening. This dates back since the first of this year.

Here they are. Just this afternoon, this is Jason Robert Bourque and Daniel George McAllister, charged with one count of arson each so far -- I want to stress that because officials are saying more charges will follow, the bond set for $10 million each.

Who are they? Jason Bourque is a college student attending, or at least last check in 2009 attended university of Texas Tyler. According to his Facebook page we dug up he is a fan of a bonfire site. An acquaintance described as a state champion debater, brilliant, kind. And according to the same acquaintance, he even Bourque even attended bible study at one of the churches.

SANCHEZ: Really?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUSTIN JOHNSON, ATTENDS CHURCH WITH SUSPECTS FAMILY: He was always knowledgeable about the word. Expecting him to do something of this sort would never cross my mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: How about that?

Then you have Daniel McAllister. His mother died three years ago, so we heard from his father. He said he definitely noticed a change in his son after his mother passed, admits to becoming suspicious of his own son. Here is David McAllister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MCALLISTER, FATHER OF CHURCH ARSON SUSPECT: You kind of heard something as a parent that something is not quite right. He just went ahead and owned up to his parts in it. I still love him. All I can do is be there for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Both Bourque and McAllister were members of a Baptist church that was one of the churches that did not burn.

SANCHEZ: I not quite sure I understand what motive someone could have to doing something like this. It's a church, a place where communities come to pray and cherish god. I'm lost on this.

BALDWIN: Absolutely. Federal agents, ATF, no one knows why. We just got this, two different affidavits, the arrest affidavits. They were able to connect -- this is amazing. You think back a couple years ago where there were the arsons in Birmingham, Alabama, and it's the smallest thing that able to connect this. Beyond an anonymous tip, they were able to take a shoeprint from one of these guys' shoes that had been found on a kicked-in door and linked it to the same pair of shoes in his own garage, again according to the arrest affidavit, so it's amazing. Again, just to reemphasize, they're charged with one kind of argon, but that could soon change.

SANCHEZ: Good stuff, Brooke. Stay on top of that for us.

We're also going to bring you this story in just a little bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOIRA BINDER: The only thing that I think has come out of Washington is more and more gridlock and game-playing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: What is the actual effect on you when our government spends too much? Talk about narrowing this down, focusing on one part of this, the most important part -- you. We'll be breaking it down for you in a bit, as I look at why our government is so broken.

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SANCHEZ: Since we're on this theme about broken government, I want you to do something for me. I want you to watch this report, and I want you to tell me if you see yourself in it. Just send me an e- mail or go to my tweet account. Listen to what Americans in this report are saying. The correspondent is Carol Costello.

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COSTELLO (voice-over): The American dream, 1950s style. Middle-class America seemed to have it all then, a nice home, a car, economic security. But 60 years later, much of the middle class think that thanks to Uncle Sam, much of that is disappearing.

(on camera): Do you think government is broken?

MOIRA BINDER: No, I think it's bruised.

MICHAEL BINDER: Yes, that's a good term.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Not exactly working for Maura and Michael Binder. Like many Americans, they're one financial crisis away from falling out of the middle class. Both had to find new jobs, which shrunk their income by $30,000 a year.

MOIRA BINDER: You don't go to the dentist. You don't get the car repaired until it's desperate. We have 165,000 miles on the Ford Focus and every repair is $600. The retirement plan went out the window.

COSTELLO (on camera): President Barack Obama says he gets it now, he's talking about job creation, he's talking about giving tax credit to small businesses. Do any of these things make you feel hopeful?

MOIRA BINDER: I'm not sure because over the last year I've got -- the only thing that I think has come out of Washington is more and more gridlock and more game-playing.

COSTELLO (voice-over): The Binder's say Washington has lost its moral compass and hasn't really cared about the middle class pocket book for decades. Commerce department statistics show from 1990 to 2008 middle-class incomes rose just 20 percent, and most of that happened in the first decade.

Income stagnated after 2000. Yet home prices shot up 56 percent, college costs 60 percent, and health care costs shot up 155 percent. So how did it happen when president, after president, after president, after president went to great lengths to show middle-class Americans they got it?

JACOB HACKER, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT RISK SHIFT": Money matters a lot more in American politics than it used to.

COSTELLO: Jacob Hacker is a political scientist who wrote "The Great Risk Shift."

HACKER: There's a lot of pressure for politicians to appease those who have the most money in the system.

COSTELLO: As in big political donors are lobbyists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats aren't listening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are ramping up their attack machine.

COSTELLO: Hacker also says partisanship has hurt the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans role is all about slow down, stop, and no.

ISABEL SAWHILL, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: None of them are willing to do the unpopular things, which means they're not willing to raise taxes and not willing to cut spending, so we're at an impasse.

COSTELLO: And until Washington comes together, the Bidners say they keep hanging in there, hoping that financial catastrophe doesn't happen.

MOIRA BINDER: It just feels like the rug has been totally pulled out. It's challenging on a day-to-day basis to accomplish everything with the paychecks coming in the door.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Danica Patrick talking about her grandmother and a cause that in many ways is the reason she drives. Part two of my interview is coming right up. Stay right there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

When she races, people watch. Why are so many people intrigued by her? And is she stealing a lot of the guys' thunder? Here is part two of my interview with Danica Patrick.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Americans are intrigued by your persona, and it's drawing them to their television sets. Is that fair?

DANICA PATRICK, RACE CAR DRIVER: Cool. Yes, no, that's good. They're curious. I'm something different and unique. And how will I stack up? And, you know --

SANCHEZ: What do you mean, how will you stack up? You think some of them are watching to see you fail?

PATRICK: Well, I think they're watching to see how I do. It's the same reason you turn on the TV to watch any other sports. How is your favorite basketball player or golfer doing? You want to see how they're doing. And so I'm lucky to have a following like that.

But it is a new series for me. I am different within the sport, being a girl. So, you know, I mean, I tune into other sports to see how people are doing just out of pure curiosity. I don't care how they're doing, I just want to see.

SANCHEZ: We're going to show the accident. And where was your spotter?

PATRICK: Well, I think he was trying to say something, but I have to say in that moment, it's kind of chaotic. There's probably two seconds between when it starts and ends, so how much can you really say in two seconds? It's --

SANCHEZ: Really? Two seconds? Is that how long? You have to react that fast?

PATRICK: The whole lap takes about 50 seconds, something like that, so break it down. It wasn't that far, so maybe five seconds? I don't know.

SANCHEZ: But most people who understand the sport would look at that and say this was not your fault.

PATRICK: Right, no, it wasn't my fault. That's just the nature of that kind of racing. It's called, you know, super speedway racing. And so everybody's so close out there, you're nose to tail, unlike in an Indy car, in a stock car, you can run literally right behind one another.

And so when somebody loses control, it's difficult to avoid it because you're straight behind them, probably even touching their rear bumper. When accidents happen, it's usually quite the pileup.

SANCHEZ: Is there any resentment from the guys who see you as the new superstar?

PATRICK: Really all of the stock car drivers, all of the cup guys have offered me advice and help. They're so kind, and everybody is so on board. And, you know, I think, you know, being in NASCAR, a lot of them probably understand the media exposure and everything, because there's a lot of really, really popular drivers in NASCAR.

PATRICK: Let me ask you, you're racing for COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Why is that an important cause for you?

SANCHEZ: My grandmother had COPD. So I have been waiting for a charity that I could put myself into and really want to be a part of, and something that had some meat behind it. This one came up.

What's shocking is that it kills more people than breast cancer and diabetes combined, I think, the fourth leading cause of death in this country. So it's kind of a shocking statistic that most people didn't know what it is. I didn't even know what it is until we really got going with this aware this is program.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: By the way, there is a new development in the case of a man who tried to blow up a subway system in New York. That's what police suspect. He has just pleaded guilty. So we'll have a live report. And we'll be heading to our security desk to bring you that information.

Stay right there, THE LIST scrolls on.

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