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CNN BREAKING NEWS

8.8 Earthquake Strikes Chile; Expert: Hawaii 'Dogged a Bullet'; New Jersey Family Awaits Word on Mother

Aired February 27, 2010 - 22:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, thank you very much. We do have it all covered for you tonight. 10,000 miles from the shores of Chile, Japan bracing for a wall of water headed their way. We are live.

And images of disaster you'll see only here on CNN as an earthquake and a tsunami bore down from Santiago to Hawaii.

Another CNN exclusive. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill like you've never heard them before. They open up about what's wrong with our government. Some of their answers you may not like. They say that you may be part of the problem.

And a cop movie like you have never seen before. Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes. All stars, and we have a preview from the award-winning director, "Brooklyn's Finest," coming up.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

You're watching CNN's breaking news coverage of the massive Chile earthquake. The damage is staggering. No other way to describe it. Collapsed buildings. More than a million homes damaged. And countless bridges and roads destroyed.

At this hour, at least 214 people are confirmed dead from the quake, at least 15 are missing. And Chile's president says about 2 million people have been affected by this disaster. It started around 3:30 Saturday morning, when a magnitude 8.8 quake, one of the most powerful ever measured, struck about 200 miles outside the capital of Santiago. There have been at least 76 aftershocks, including a 6.1 quake in Argentina that killed two people.

The quake sparked tsunami warnings across the Pacific. Eighteen hours after the quake struck, people in Russia and Japan are preparing for the very worst right now.

We'll have an update on the warnings there just ahead.

But first, we have some new video into CNN tonight that shows what happened as the quake hit. It is from Terror.com.

Let's watch and let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Just really some unbelievable video right there. Residents can be heard screaming. The power just turned off, "calm down, calm down." "Stay calm." They also can be heard screaming in the background, "come over here," "watch yourself over there." And also saying, "Now it's shaking." "That's what's happening." "Please calm down." "It has already passed, it is over, it is over." And then you can hear the car alarms going off. People screaming, and then the power lines, of course, arcing in that video.

The scale of this earthquake in Chile is almost impossible really to overstate. The massive force sending panic across the Pacific region. And it started to play out when most people were asleep in bed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON (voice-over): It hit in the middle of the night, 3:34 a.m. Local Time, off the coast of Chile, a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake, shaking the ground with unbelievable force.

ROLANDO SANTOS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CNN CHILE (via telephone): There was a violent shaking in Santiago. No question about it. I literally got knocked out of bed and on to the floor. And it was pretty clear, because of the length of the earthquake that it was going to be a major earthquake.

LEMON: The force, 800 to 900 times stronger than the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January.

LORENA RIOS, VISITING SANTIAGO, CHILE (via telephone): And the intensity kept going up and up and up. And everything was moving. I actually thought that the ground was going to swallow the entire car.

LEMON: The damage on land is only part of the problem. The rumbling sent pulses across the Pacific, triggering tsunami warnings in dozens of countries from Russia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and in the U.S., Hawaii.

BARRY HIRSHON, PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER (via telephone): There will be many, many waves and what will happen is civil defense, when we think that the amplitudes have decreased, then civil defense will give an all clear that it is safe to come back. But I would stay away until civil defense gives an all clear.

LEMON: Chile's president taking to the airwaves, declaring areas of catastrophe, urging people to stay calm.

PRES. MICHELLE BACHELET, CHILE (through translator) Sometimes people stay in homes that are high risk just to try to protect their property. And I would like to make a call at higher moral conscience, basic moral higher conscience because when we have such a catastrophe of this nature, we are all involved.

LEMON: Now the death toll climbs from a rumbling earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All the latest information is really coming from our Chile desk covering this massive earthquake. And in just moments, we're going to take you live to Hawaii as well, where our Dan Simon is standing by, and he is covering that part of the story for us.

You can see things are calm there now. But earlier today, it was a tense waiting game. First, there were warning sirens, then a tsunami arrived, and the latest from the big island coming up in just a moment. That was CNN's Dan Simon.

But first, let's go now to the Chile desk, where all the latest information is coming. That's where Luis Carlos Velez is standing by.

What are you hearing now? What are you finding out now for us?

LUIS CARLOS VELEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don.

It's almost midnight in Chile, at Santiago, Chile. We're monitoring the signal of CNN Chile, our system network. People are at the streets right now, it's almost past midnight as I said. We're going to show you some video of what's going on right now. People are trying to get shelter, are living out there in the streets. They are very scared because of the many aftershocks that they have been witness of after the big earthquake. Local media is reporting that people is buying lights, is buying candles, are buying radios and batteries. They're also looking for food and first aid kits.

Starting tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. in the morning, local authorities are saying that some lines of the subway system in Santiago, Chile, is going to be operational again. As well, the energy state company said that 80 percent of Santiago, Chile already has energy there. It's not clear when schools are going to be opening, because simply kids were on vacation and because of the situation right now. Well, they don't know when they are going to be back at schools.

CNN Chile as I said, is monitoring the situation very closely. We're going to go to the street. This is what they gather some minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ (through translator): That was very strong, wasn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, very strong. Very strong.

VELEZ: The feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's like I can't believe it.

VELEZ: Ma'am, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Scared. Very scared.

VELEZ: Well, you, you saw it, we all saw it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My mom's worried, isn't she?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ: And President Bachelet, about 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, she talked, she referred to the nation, and she said that at least 2 million people were affected by the earthquake. Local authorities are talking right now about 300 people being dead. This is what President Bachelet said around 7:00 p.m.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. MICHELLE BACHELET, CHILE (through translator): The forces of nature have hurt our country greatly, and we are now having to face adversity and having to stand again. And we are taking all necessary measures to normalize little by little the functioning of all the basic services and utilities in our country. But there's a great task ahead of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ: The local government, the Chilean government has not asked for international help, although, many countries, including the United States have already offered everything that they have.

Don?

LEMON: Luis Carlos Velez at our Chile desk. Thank you, sir.

After the earthquake hit Chile, the eyes of the world turned to Hawaii. It was feared that the earthquake would set off a devastating tsunami there. We'll take you to Hawaii, live, moments away.

And now Japan on alert and bracing for possible tsunami waves there, even bigger than the ones that were possibly going to hit Hawaii. Our Jacqui Jeras is going to fill us in.

Thousands have been evacuated from the Pacific coastline.

Also, it's time for you to be part of the show. We want you to weigh-in. Send us an iReport or tweet us. We'll get it on the air for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Just imagine waking up to that. Tsunami warning sirens rang out across Hawaii earlier today after that powerful earthquake hit Chile. Thousands of people evacuated to higher grounds. Beaches cleared, but even from a distance, all eyes were on the ocean. Saturday afternoon, several tsunami waves hit, but they were smaller than expected, thankfully. And two hours after the waves came ashore, the tsunami warning ended up getting canceled. But they're still in effect for Russia and Japan. And we're keeping a close eye on Japan. Official say Hawaii dodged a bullet today. Maui saw 6.5 foot waves. The highest wave at Hilo measured 5.5 feet.

There had been no reports of damage in Hawaii, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says coastal areas could still see unusual currents for the next couple of hours.

We turn now to CNN's Dan Simon who made the trek today to Hawaii. He is in Hilo, on the Island of Hawaii.

I would imagine it was quite a journey for you, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I was sort of expecting when I hopped on the plane this morning to come to the big island that you would see a bunch of empty seats, but definitely we're on exception.

On my part, the plane was totally full, but everybody was talking about it. And when the pilot came on, you know, midway through the flight, he said, basically, there was no damage on the island. Huge applause on the airplane. Everybody was relieved.

Let me tell you where I am. I'm at the (inaudible) Hotel. And I think what happened here is pretty much indicative in terms of what happened of all the hotels throughout Hawaii. 6:00 a.m., you heard that loud siren. It was a big wakeup call for everybody. Hotel staff started knocking on everybody's door, telling them to evacuate, get to higher ground. The hotel had a place for people to go.

And then for residents, you know, any time that there's an impending disaster, and you can prepare for it. People started going to grocery stores and gas stations and stocking up on supplies.

But, of course, Don, at the end -- at the end of the day, you didn't really need to, as you said, no damage whatsoever. You had a little bit of wave activity, but things here on the island pretty much back to normal -- Don.

LEMON: Hey, Dan, I was going to ask you a quick question for you. We saw basically Hawaii, the shores are empty, which we rarely see. So, right now, back to normal? Are people hanging out, going about their business?

SIMON: Well, as you can see, see this gentleman walking behind.

Where are you from, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Iowa.

SIMON: When did you get here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Few days ago. SIMON: A few days ago.

Did you hear the sirens this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually did not hear the sirens this morning till we drove up to Imea (ph).

SIMON: OK. It must have been a little jarring to hear that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the time we have already been pretty comfortable with it. I mean, we went up to 3,000 feet at that point. So, we're fine when we're at that point.

SIMON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Actually, we took an early walk this morning at 5:30 in the morning. My son was asleep, and one of the grounds keepers told us about it. At that time it was a little disconcerting, but after we got used to it, it's OK.

SIMON: Well, enjoy your vacation, especially coming from Iowa where it's cold.

LEMON: We can hear you just fine. By the way, Dan, what's his name?

SIMON: Your daughter walking by in the store?

Sir, tell me your name one more time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Randy from Iowa.

SIMON: Randy from Iowa.

And here are some more folks coming by. Come on through, folks.

All right, so everything's looking pretty good here, Don. We're happy for these people.

LEMON: CNN's Dan Simon.

Dan, you're doing a great job just talking to people who are walking up. We can hear them just fine, and we're glad Randy from Iowa and his family are doing just fine.

Our Dan Simon. Thank you so much, Dan.

So, listen, let's go now from Hawaii to our Jacqui Jeras who is going to talk to us about Japan because Japan right now bracing for a possible wall of water.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And this could happen within maybe an hour, hour and a half, as what the most recent estimate is, Don. And just because we had the little blip in Hawaii doesn't mean it's not going to be a more significant one as these waves propagate out up towards Japan. In fact, if we look back at history, by the way, the most powerful earthquake happened on Chile, 9.5 magnitude in 1960. That generated a huge tsunami and killed thousands of people in Japan. So we know that this is something that could potentially be happening.

This is a map from the Japanese Meteorological Agency here, and this shows you the degree of the threat. So think of it as yellow is lower, red highest. And to put it in perspective for you, if you want to weigh the populated areas, Tokyo's down here, Okinawa's down here.

So, we do have some fishing villages more than anything else in this area. But there's still literally thousands of people who live in this area. And it's the red highlighted spot where a major tsunami could still happen. And that's at 10 feet or more, potentially.

And the reason why we could see this here has nothing to do with the strength of the tsunami or how fast this thing has been moving. You know, this is as fast as a jetliner. So it takes hours, and you can you see, you know, each of those rings.

Here's where it was at 9:00. Here's where we thought it was going to be at 12:00. Fifteen hours out with Hawaii, 18 hours out there in Australia, 21 hours out, Papua New Guinea. And then here we go with the 24 hour mark about is when this is going to be hitting Japan. So, in just a couple of hours. And this is not an exact science in terms of the timing.

As you know, what happened in Hawaii, those waves came up maybe an hour later than we thought they would. So, this is going to continue into the overnight hours Eastern Time anyway, as we continue to watch that threat.

But it all has to do with the coastline and just how steep that coastline is. And let's show you this animation to really help give you an idea of what happened when an earthquake like this occurs, OK?

The two crusts are together and the one pushes up. And what it does, it pushes up that water, on to land. And as you take note, I'm just going to play this one more time for you, because what I want you to notice is the slope as this goes up toward the coast. That's that whole column of water that gets pushed up on to shore.

So, depending on how steep that rate is, has to do with how big the wave is. So, it's all about the symmetry, as we call it. Or think about it as topography on the ocean floor as it goes up toward the coast.

And Don, you and I were talking about, you know, why would this happen? We wouldn't see anything in the middle of the ocean. You know, you can fly over a tsunami and have no clue.

LEMON: It's deeper, right?

JERAS: Right. Either the ocean is very, very deep. But as opposed to -- we talked about storm surge, which is when the winds of the hurricane blow the top of the water up. This is the entire column of water from the ocean floor all the way up. So, that just moves almost undetected right in the middle of the ocean. But as that gets pushed up the slope, here comes that big area of water that just rushes its way on the shore.

So, you're in a bathtub, right? This is another analogy we were talking about. And if you just take your hands, you know, under the water and you push it, nothing happens until it gets to that slope or the edge of the bathtub and everything splashes on up. And it does also go back and forth just like in a bathtub. So, we're going to be seeing unsettled waters in the Pacific Ocean for probably a couple of days.

LEMON: And as we know from physics, energy has to come up...

JERAS: Somewhere.

LEMON: So, once it gets to the end, it could be very dangerous, once it gets to Japan.

Jacqui Jeras keeping an eye on Japan as we hear at the CNN anchor desk and our Chile team, our earthquake and tsunami teams are keeping an eye as well.

So, thank you throughout the two hours. We're live until midnight, Jacqui. So, we'll be watching. Thank you so much.

Other news to cover as well. Just days after a trainer was killed, SeaWorld Florida's Shamu show is back, and so is the serial killer whale.

Director Antoine Fuqua's new movie, "Brooklyn's Finest," is in theaters very soon. I've seen it, it is amazing. And we're going to talk to him about it live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hey, time to check other news now, some of your top stories. A suicide car bomber in Pakistan attacked a police station Saturday, killing four people and injuring more than 20 others. It happened in the Northwest Frontier Province. It is the third time in a week that a police station in that region of Pakistan has been attacked.

Los Angeles police are investigating the death of Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son. Osmond says her family is devastated by the loss, and is asking for privacy to deal with the tragedy. There are unconfirmed reports that the teenager killed himself. He reportedly had been battling depression.

Well, the show went on today at Florida's SeaWorld three days after a female trainer was killed by a 12,000 pound whale. Some 2000 people packed the park's stadium for the first show which included a memorial for the dead trainer. The killer whale did not perform today, but officials say he will be part of future shows despite now being involved in three deaths. The latest winter storm to hit the Northeast is moving out to sea now, but it has left behind a big mess, and not just on the icy roads. Utility crews are trying to restore power to nearly half a million homes and businesses. Heavy snow, flooding rains, and hurricane- forced winds battered the region and canceled more than 1,000 flights.

You can add another congressman to the list of those who will soon be leaving Capitol Hill. Georgia Republican John Linder announced today he's retiring after nine terms. He's perhaps best known for sponsoring legislation for a fair tax. Linder is the seventh House Republican to announce his retirement.

And speaking of retiring congressmen, we've got an exclusive panel of them just ahead. They're opening up to us, now that they are not worried about re-election.

And desperate moments for a New Jersey family as they wait for any word of a loved one down in Chile.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The damage, of course, staggering. Buildings collapsed. More than a million homes damaged and countless bridges and roads destroyed. At this hour, at least 214 people confirmed dead from today's massive earthquake in Chile, 15 missing.

Chile's president says about two million people have been affected by the disaster. It started around 3:30 a.m. when a magnitude 8.8 quake, one of the most powerful ever measured, struck about 2,000 miles outside the capital of Santiago. There have been at least 76 aftershocks including a 6.1 quake in Argentina that killed two people.

The quake sparked tsunami warnings across the Pacific. At this hour, people in Russia and Japan are preparing for the very worst. Evacuations are underway in coastal areas in both of those countries.

So when news of the Chile quake hit airwaves, right, the Rojas family in New Jersey were frantic over what may have happened to their mother. Our Susan Candiotti is on this story.

Susan, what happened?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, today, we spent some time with the Rojas family. They own a small grocery store in West New York, New Jersey, which is just across the Hudson River from New York City.

All day long, every 10 minutes, they've been trying to reach Iris Rojas. She's their mom and she's been living for three months at their family home in Santiago. They haven't been able to contact her, and they've been frantic throughout the day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUE ROJAS, SON: We don't want anything to happen to our mom. And we are still hoping the best she will at any moment she will communicate with us.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Exactly. If only you could even talk to someone else who lives nearby.

ROJAS: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: Or to see how...

ROJAS: We tried some neighbors. We tried friends that we have in common over there in Chile and people are trying to cooperate. It seems to me like there's no communications, all communications have broken down in Santiago, and we don't know what time they're going to establish communications or -- we really don't know what's going on. I mean, it's really hard to say when you try to call every few minutes and you don't get an answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The truth is, she is very strong. I hope that nothing terrible has happened. I have faith in God that nothing terrible has happened, and I can communicate with her as soon as possible.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And as it turns out, Mrs. Rojas is OK. We'll get an update from our Susan Candiotti as this story progresses.

Thank you, Susan.

First, Hawaii. Now, we're learning Japan is under a tsunami watch and we are watching, too, right here at CNN.

Gritty, grimy and gripping. If I had to chose three words to describe director Antoine Fuqua's new film "Brooklyn's Finest," that would be the three, and also amazing as well. Our talk with him a little bit later on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A lot of stories happening including the one that happened in Chile. We're keeping a close eye on Japan.

But we want to tell you this. The "New York Times" is reporting that Iran has moved all of its nuclear fuel stockpiles to a plant above ground. An international inspector says that's like putting a bull's eye on it. Some even speculate that Iran is inviting an outside attack to unify the politically divided country.

A former NBA All-Star has been arrested on charges of sexual assault of a child and sex trafficking. Alvin Robertson who played for the San Antonio Spurs was taken into custody yesterday in Bentonville, Arkansas. Police say he was one of seven people who kidnapped a 14-year-old girl, forced her into prostitution and made her dance at a strip club.

President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation's main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act. They would have expired on Sunday. They authorize court approved roving wiretaps to permit phone surveillance. They also allow the seizure of records and property in anti-terror investigations.

President Obama will make an announcement next week on what his spokesman calls the way forward on health care reform.

Meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells our Candy Crowley that she's not worried by apparent changes in how the public views the health care debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S STATE OF THE UNION: When we look at our polling numbers just from yesterday, we had almost three-quarters of Americans who said they need to drop this bill, just stop talking about health care and move on to something else, or they need to start new. So, don't the Republicans have a point?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: The point is, is that we have a responsibility here. And the Republicans have had a field day going out there and misrepresenting us in the bill. But that's what they do.

CROWLEY: So, it's been a method...

PELOSI: But that's what they do.

CROWLEY: You think people don't understand the bill?

PELOSI: No, I don't think -- there isn't a bill. When we have a bill, which we will in a matter of days, then that is the bill that we can sell.

Our bill, the House and the Senate bill, had some major differences which we're hoping now to reconcile. And then when we have a bill -- you -- as I say, you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie, but you have to have a pie to sell. And when we do we will take it out there.

I feel very confident about what is in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We have to remind you that you can see Candy's full interview with Nancy Pelosi tomorrow morning 9:00 Eastern on CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION," 9 Eastern tomorrow morning. Candy will also interview Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

So, a near record number of congressmen, senators, representatives retiring, choosing not to run again. Many of them say part of the reason -- our government is broken.

Tonight, they open up to us, six of them, in an exclusive interview that you'll only see on CNN. Wait until you hear what they have to say. Some of their answers you might not like. They say you may be part of the problem. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Stamping out childhood illiteracy deep inside Colombia. Almost 30 percent of children under the age of 16 have limited or no access to schools. And CNN's hero of the week saddles up on a mission with two unlikely helpers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUIS SORIANO, CNN HERO (through translator): In the villages, life goes on in a stationary way, there is no change. Reading has made me laugh and dream. It has also shown me things I want to see in my lifetime.

Alfa, Beto and I share the fact that we always lived here.

My name is Luis Soriano and my classroom is not traditional.

My Biblioburro consists of books placed in saddles on top of my donkeys. It's not easy to travel through these valleys, the burning sun or too much rain. You sit on a donkey for five or eight hours. You get very tired.

It's a satisfaction to ride to your destination. We go to places that are not on a map, where a child has to work or ride a donkey for up to 40 minutes to reach the closest school. When they learn how to read, the child discovers a new world, like I did.

Someone once said to me, "You've educated a lot of people. You read them the donkeys like no one has."

These children need it. Of course they want to learn. That's what keeps motivating me to ride.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And Luis Soriano's work has proved reading instruction to -- provided, I should say, reading instruction to more than 4,000 children. And to watch his complete journey or to nominate someone you think is changing the world, go to cnn.com/heroes. Heroes, good people.

A lot of politicians will tell you what you want to hear to get them re-elected, right? But the six congressmen on our exclusive panel are retiring and telling us what they really think about D.C.

And "King Kong" ain't got nothing on director Antoine Fuqua. The "Training Day" director is joining us before his new cop movie "Brooklyn's Finest" hits the theaters next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hey, listen. I don't care what you're doing, if you're just flipping through, if you're -- whatever you're doing, you want to see this. Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever, you want to watch this one. All this week we have been exposing the cracks in our government. Some people say it's broken. So I got a chance to sit down with six retiring congressmen to talk about what's really going on in Washington. Why the gridlock? Why are so many choosing to leave, refusing to run again?

In the Senate, five Democrats and six Republicans already said they won't seek re-election. And as of now in the House, 33 seats will be open in November, left by 14 Democrats and 19 Republicans. It's an extraordinary number.

So, with nothing now to lose, six congressmen answer our big question honestly -- what's the deal with Washington these days?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: What's interesting to me, because all of you guys have had, you know, careers before, you know, clinical psychologists, scientists, whatever. Why are you concerned about having this job? There are other jobs. It seems like you guys were in a position to -- anyone -- some of the smartest people I've -- you know, resumes I've seen, to tell people what the actual truth is and...

REP. VERNON EHLERS (R), MICHIGAN: That's why I'm leaving.

(CROSSTALK)

REP. BRIAN BAIRD (D), WASHINGTON: What Vernon is saying, that the price of telling the truth is basically high, because you get hit from both sides. Centrism is tough. Being willing to say to your own party, I disagree with this party position, is a tough position. There will be consequences for that.

LEMON: Is that part of why all of you are leaving? Is there some frustration?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly frustration in trying to get things done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

REP. JOHN TANNER (D), TENNESSEE: That and the time constraint. I compare the voting card to a dialysis machine.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: OK, listen.

TANNER: I want to be with my grandchildren. I want to be a (INAUDIBLE), and I can't, I have this job.

REP. BART GORDON (D), TENNESSEE: Also, the enormous amount of money that you have to raise for campaigns. The enormous amount of money being spent against you in campaigns, which is taking one sliver of your record and often times misrepresenting it. LEMON: OK. Let me ask you a couple of questions. These are viewer questions, right. Ask if they are going to get a job as a lobbyist when they leave.

Anybody?

EHLERS: If I did, it would be as an unpaid lobbyist.

REP. DENNIS MOORE (D), KANSAS: I've been a lawyer for 28 years. I've been in Congress for 12 years. If I become a lobbyist, that's strike three, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: So, an unpaid lobbyist for what?

EHLERS: Good causes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I mean, that's important. Vernon's point is well taken. You can be a lobbyist for some very good causes here.

LEMON: So, it's not out of the realm of possibilities?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

LEMON: OK.

Can Congress ever become a vital tool for the people instead of individual politicians and public interest greed? That's a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

REP. JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA: Although there is some individual interest's too much and too much greed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LEMON: Why are they so unwilling to find common ground to govern on? I am truly ashamed of our representatives and their pigheadedness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, people -- many of us -- you're looking at a group here who actually is pretty willing to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Work together.

SHADEGG: I think that perception is wrong. I think, in point in fact, we do work together. And I think we just agreed that some substantial proportion of the legislation that goes through here, 65 to 85 percent is bipartisan and does work on both sides of the aisle. The high profile stuff is where there are intense disagreements philosophically on what is the right course to take. And you've got to debate those. You're going to disagree about those.

That's not -- that's not a personal pique. That's a matter of principle for a lot of us.

LEMON: OK.

If government is broken or if there are so many issues facing the American people, why quit now? Why give up?

EHLERS: I'm not giving up. I've been here 16 years. I think I've had more than my share of time representing the people. And I'm 76 years old, 11 years past normal retirement. I thought, you know, why not give someone else a chance to do this job.

LEMON: And finally, someone says, "Are they leaving because of Obama?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe anybody said that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm leaving because of William and Walter -- two 5-year-old boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I've got nine grandkids I didn't have when I started. It's a lot of personal...

TANNER: I want to bring up something that John said, that increasingly in the country there seems to be from the wings this inability to grant to one who disagrees with them the same purity of motive and patriotic fervor they claim for themselves. And that is -- and it bleeds over here to some degree, because that's who we hear from. But the American people, I think, need to take a check, and -- because someone disagrees with you, doesn't mean they're any less patriotic or care or love this country any less. It's called freedom.

LEMON: Everybody sticking their heads up?

ALL: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well said.

LEMON: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: OK. And more tough words for you, the voter. Whether you know it or not, the way you share your frustration with Washington has a profound effect on the political process, and according to our congressmen, a direct impact on whether a perceived broken government can be fixed. More from them next hour.

One of the most intense cop dramas and it is coming to theaters very soon. You're going to love this movie. And guess what? I've seen it already, it is fantastic. I'm talking with the director Antoine Fuqua. Remember that from "Training Day." I'm talking about his new movie, "Brooklyn's Finest." Live, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So it's time to talk what matters. It's our partnership with "Essence" magazine. Another story that you really should pay attention to, Antoine Fuqua, director of the movie "Training Day," is at it again. His latest cop saga, it's called "Brooklyn's Finest," it's in theaters March 5th. A quick preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD GERE, ACTOR, AS EDDIE DUGAN: If it's all the same to you, I got seven days. I'm no one's teacher. I'm not a role model.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God knows you're not, Eddie. But your name came up in the computer file. This thing's been kicked up by two months, and all eyes are on it.

Just do the best you can, OK?

Come on, Dugan, don't you want to do something useful with your last two minutes on the job?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Director Antoine Fuqua joins us now live from Los Angeles tonight.

Hey, good to see you.

ANTOINE FUQUA, DIRECTOR, "BROOKLYN'S FINEST": Good to see you, too, Don.

LEMON: So, you know, I sent you an e-mail saying, man, you stuck your foot in this, both of them. I mean, this is really good.

And I'm a pretty tough critic when it comes to movies. The big budget, even all the high-tech sci-fi, I'm not interested. But this one is amazing because it's a cop movie but it's about the characters. It's about the characters.

FUQUA: Absolutely. Yes, it's about the characters. It's about the pressures that these men are under. You know, New York police officers are under a great deal of pressure and its -- some of the choices they make are because of that pressure, you know. Economic pressure, the fact that they make, you know, $30,000 to $60,000 a year. $30,000, starting. And you can't really make a living on that, you know.

LEMON: So I have to ask you, you're saying this, in the movie makes it clear, but, you know, it takes you through -- it's a great story. The writing is great. The character development is great. The cinematography is great.

So, what are you trying to say, though, when it comes to police. Are you saying that police officers, you know, they're good guys, most of them are good guys, but they could be even better if they were paid more, if they were respected more, if they had better training?

Is there a message to this film?

FUQUA: Absolutely. I'm saying that most guys are good guys, and they, you know, they set out to do the right thing. But, you know, when you're making no money, when you got a 45,000 -- roughly police officers in New York City, and you got about 150 psych doctors. I mean, how do they -- you know, that's the size of the military, bigger than most countries.

So, how do you, you know, make sure that everybody is psychologically where they're supposed to be, you know, after witnessing, you know, the worst of mankind daily. It's a lot of pressure, and it's the -- it's the, ultimately, the results we see in the news when an officer, you know, shoots someone in the subway, or shoots a kid 40-some times.

You know, the messages, what's happening with our officers? You know, what are the problems that they're facing to make them make that decision?

LEMON: As we're looking at this movie, let's talk about some of the people who are in it -- Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes.

And as I'm watching this movie, Mr. Fuqua, I'm wondering, they could all be best actors, because, I mean, it really is that good.

Where did you -- how did you assemble this group of men, very high-powered actors and tough to get?

FUQUA: Yes. I did a lot of begging, Don, you know.

LEMON: You're not too proud to beg?

FUQUA: I'm not too -- I mean, I wanted to work with each one of these guys. You know, trying to get their schedules to line up, trying to get them all to say yes. You know, I did this film, obviously for a price, and shot it all in Brooklyn. So, I got lucky, man. That's all I could say.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, these guys are -- you know, we talked a little bit about this, when you think about -- especially American actors, right? We see, what happened -- these guys are macho guys, what you don't see from American actors any more, you know, they're sort of Marlboro man-type actors. And there are a few in this movie.

We talk about some of the dirt of that. And I'm wondering if this film sort of helps it along, helps us find the sort of all- American rough guy, John Wayne type?

FUQUA: Absolutely. I'm always in search of, you know, the films I grew up watching in the 70s or the Westerns or the films from the 40s, the public enemies and the original "Scarface."

You know, who are our John Waynes today? You know, who are our Clint Eastwoods today? You know, Steve McQueens, trying to find those men, those American men to put in our films.

LEMON: We don't really have any?

FUQUA: It's really few and far between, far between. You know, we have a handful of them, and we know who they are. And if they're not available, you know, you get a hard time casting your film.

LEMON: So, listen, let's get back to the film, because I think you're trying to help out the effort when it comes to that.

I don't know if it's just a new obsession for me or if it is just a resurgence. One of the best shows that I have seen on television lately is called "Southland." And I don't know how you let that show go.

And I was reading a review in the "Wall Street Journal' just yesterday that said, "Finally a reason to watch television." It's about the characters, it's about the development. Regina King, Ben McKenzie, all those guys.

And this movie, your movie, reminds me of that. Just a coincidence that they're both two different coasts as well?

FUQUA: You know, I think they're dealing with the same subject. They're dealing with the same pressures. The streets are the streets, you know. East coast, West Coast. "Training Day" was West Coast. This is East Coast. Southland is West Coast. I think you can't avoid, you know, the similarities when you're dealing with that subject matter. And they do a very good job on that show.

LEMON: And you did a very good job on "Brooklyn's Finest."

Antoine Fuqua, listen, like I said, I'm a tough sell and when I saw this, I said I've got to get you on to talk about it because people should see this. It talks about the issues with police officers. If you want them to have a better place to work so that we can have a better place to live, then you need to see this movie to see their problems. It talks about race, everything. It deals with everything and it does it in a great way.

Hey, listen, thank you so much. March 5th, right? FUQUA: Thank you, Don. Yes, March 5th.

LEMON: March 5th. Take care of yourself, man.

FUQUA: Yes, sir. You do the same, man.

LEMON: Listen, we're going to move on now and talk about Japan. It is on alert. The country braces for a possible tsunami. Tens of thousands of people already are fleeing to higher ground.

Will Japan dodge a bullet just like Hawaii did? We're keeping a close eye and we'll have the very latest from Tokyo live straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Chile, Hawaii and now Japan. Japan keeping a close eye. The country bracing for a possible tsunami. Tens of thousands of people fled to higher ground already. Kyung Lah joins us tonight from Tokyo.

Kyung, what are people doing to prepare there?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are being told to get out of low-lying areas. The major areas that are being impacted are the coastal areas. So, these are fishing towns and resort areas.

There is one section of Japan, the northern part of this island, that Tokyo is on, is expecting waves at least nine feet high. At least that's the warning from the Meteorological Agency here. They've been told to get out of there. Rail service has been stopped. All these precautionary measures just in case this happens.

We're being told now, Don, there is some media reports that the number of evacuations isn't just tens of thousands of people. But that this could be into the hundreds of thousands. So, all of these precautions being taken by the government. The federal government here is activated, making sure that they have communications in place, because they are taking this very seriously -- Don.

LEMON: And Kyung, there is some history here, and they have reason to be afraid, reason to prepare for this.

LAH: You are absolutely right. In 1960, when there was that tsunami that happened because of a Chilean quake, well, this is deja vu for the people who are here, because the tsunami came ashore, Japan was not prepared in the same way that it is right now. A hundred and forty people were either killed or never found ever again. So, this government taking this very seriously, because this is exactly what happened in 1960.

LEMON: And you said in the low-lying areas, they're preparing right now. So, Kyung, as you watch television and you listen to the media, this is obviously our big breaking news story. This is front page news. It's the lead on the newscast.

What are you seeing there as you are watching?

LAH: It's exactly same thing. And there is lot of concern. It is on every single television station here. Everyone being told to watch their televisions, if they are in the areas, to get out and to move, because this is such a serious situation.

If you're in a low-lying area and a nine-foot wave comes ashore, that is very significant. Think about how tall you are, and nine feet of water coming into your house. So, that's why this government wants to make sure people in those areas get out.

LEMON: All right. Our Kyung Lah joining us from Tokyo.

Kyung, stand by, because we're hearing from our meteorologists here that it could be just a little while. It could come a bit early, but sometime in the 11:00 hour, they believe that they may start feeling the effects of the tsunami in Japan.

Our Kyung Lah will stand by. Appreciate it.

I want to tell you, this is the top of the hour, everyone, and we're following breaking news.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.