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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Will Top Kill Work?; Biggest Loser Drops 264 Lbs.

Aired May 26, 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. He's half the man he was after shedding a whopping 264 pounds. The latest winner of "The Biggest Loser" started out as the heaviest contestant in the show's history.

How did he transform himself?

Plus, competitors who found love while dropping pounds and a woman who was a loser's weightiest female contestant ever. Wait until you see the shape she's in now.

But first, will top kill work? BP launches a desperate effort to plug up the oil gushing into the gulf on the most critical day yet of the worst spill in U.S. history.

President Obama, is he doing all he can? All that and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Let's get right to the latest on the oil spill in the gulf with David Mattingly, CNN's national correspondent, who's in Robert, Louisiana.

What's -- what's the absolutely up-to-the-minute latest?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The absolutely latest here, Larry, is that everything is going according to plan. That according to the Coast Guard and BP as far as this top kill procedure goes.

They're not willing to say yes, if it's going to succeed. They're sort of in a wait-and-see period for about the next 24 hours. They should know sometime tomorrow if this procedure is going to work.

And it's very elaborate. They're pumping this heavy liquid that they call mud down below into the blowout preventer, that device that failed and caused this disaster in the first place. They're pumping that in under high pressure, forcing that oil back down essentially trying to drown this oil well into heavy liquid and then seal it up with cement.

So far that is the best news we've been able to hear through this entire event. They're saying that it's all going according to plan, but they're not willing to say yet that it's going to work.

KING: And the time frame is what, David? MATTINGLY: The time frame for this operation -- yesterday we were told it would take about 10 hours. They got started about 2:00 Eastern Time today.

But now they're revising that. Apparently they're taking their time. They say it's going to be about 24 hours before they know if it's going to work. The head of BP earlier today also said that it could take a couple of days.

This is their best chance to shut off this well, to patch it, until they can get that extra well dug that's going to be a couple of months from now to completely kill this well. This is their best shot because they've got other options to contain some of this and perhaps do other things.

But they wanted to try this first because that was going to be their best chance for success. So they're going to take their time and they're going to try and get it right -- Larry.

KING: That's David Mattingly in Robert, Louisiana. Now to New Orleans and Rob Marciano, our CNN meteorologist. He went out into the gulf today to get a firsthand look.

What did you see?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, a lot of oil, Larry. It didn't take us very long to see it. Yesterday we saw the marshlands that had been inundated by oil. But a lot of that oil had moved back out to sea.

We got 12 -- 10, 12 miles south of the Mississippi delta and boom. We ran into not just rainbow sheen but thick, heavy, deep, deep, dark brown oil, in some cases black oil. And it kind of layered up. I mean it was thick goop. In some cases it looked fresh out of the pipe. Barely weathered, certainly not dispersed. And it was thick like that for miles to come.

We saw wildlife out there struggling in the oil. We saw a shark flopping around trying to survive. Didn't like -- didn't look like it was doing well. Crabs -- small baby crabs struggling in the oil as well. Even found a dead eel.

We went out there with a bunch of scientists on behalf of the National Wildlife Foundation -- Federation. And they took samples of the oil. They took samples of the wildlife to get -- get a better handle of what's going on out there.

But I'll tell you this -- I'll tell you one thing we didn't see. We didn't see any skimmers. And the visibility was good, about 20 miles. We didn't see one vessel out there that was charged to clean up this mess.

Now granted, we were just on the western edge of this spill. We are about 50 miles from the actual spill site. We were trying to get there but couldn't because of weather and because of the oil itself. But we didn't see one skimmer out there, Larry, cleaning up that -- cleaning up the oil. And that certainly was --

KING: But some --

MARCIANO: -- a frustrating nonsite.

KING: Rob, some press release said skimming less oil today because there is less oil.

MARCIANO: Not by my account, my friend. There was a lot of oil out where we were in. And it was heavy and it was thick, and we were just on the western edge of it. Now, those skimmers, if they were out, may have been in other areas, but there's a lot of oil still left to clean up.

And who knows what's underneath the surface of the water. And that will be a story we'll be telling certainly in the weeks to come.

KING: And now we go to New Orleans again and Ed Lavandera, our CNN correspondent, on the scene.

Ed, what's been the impact of seeing all this film, the images coming? Do you think the public is now fully aware of this ? Because this was slow growing, wasn't it?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, to get the video, absolutely, Larry. It took us several weeks into this disaster to really put pressure on BP to release these video images that we had learned early on in this disaster that they had very clear access to.

We had done a series of stories of asking them why those video images weren't being releases. Eventually they relented and obviously that's made a huge difference.

Everywhere you go in Louisiana along the Gulf Coast you can see those video images up on television screens and people closely monitoring. We might not exactly understand what we're looking at, but people are looking at that and understand what the danger is and just how bad this disaster is.

KING: What's the latest on the dispersants that BP has been dumping into the gulf?

LAVANDERA: Well, there -- the EPA and BP still kind of locked in a battle over what they're going to do exactly with the dispersants. Right now EPA scientists are conducting their own tests on a variety of dispersants that they think might be viable to use.

In the meantime they have told BP to dramatically cut back on the dispersants that are being sprayed into the Gulf of Mexico. According to the admiral in charge of the response here, that -- excuse me -- on the surface has been dramatically cut back, almost to nothing.

They still reserve the right to use some of that. But under water, at the leak site, they have dramatically cut back, they say, and ordered BP to cut it back by 50 to 75 percent. So they say in the last two days since they've told BP to do that that change has happened.

So they hope -- they say that this has been a choice they had to make. It was either -- use these dispersants and try to break up the oil far from shore or see much more of this oil onshore.

So that's why they felt it was important to introduce these dispersants on -- early on, even though not everyone agrees on what the impact of this will be.

KING: That's Ed Lavandera on the scene in New Orleans. Thanks to all the guys.

Anger also continues to spill over the oil in the gulf. A debate with Ben Stein and Representative Alan Grayson is next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now, always good to welcome, Ben Stein, the economist, former presidential speechwriter, best-selling author. His latest book, "The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing." And congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida.

President Obama is heading to the gulf Friday and at least one prominent resident there says he'll tell the president that he put the wrong man in charge of the Coast Guard effort. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILLY NUNGESSER, PRES., PLAQUEMINES PARISH: I'll tell him he picked the wrong leader. This guy is no leader. All he's done is critique and criticize everything we've recommended. But he's offered no solutions in return.

A leader has a plan, executes the plan. He's executed nothing but excuses. You all asked him on camera, are you doing absolutely everything possible to save them wetlands? You know what he did? He pointed the finger.

He said BP's in charge. You ask BP, they say the Coast Guard's in charge. It's like a couple of kids pointing the finger at each other. It's an embarrassment to this country.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Ben, is this -- is this Obama's Katrina?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: No, I don't think Obama has done anything much wrong. And people are saying, oh, he shouldn't have come out to California for a fundraiser.

Look, he's not superman. He can't dive down into the well and plug it up. He's the president, he's a politician. He's an administrator of executive. He can call people together, call the best scientists together and tell them to get to work.

But, you know, I don't think it does any good to yell at BP anymore. They're already humiliated. They already know they've screwed up in an incredibly bad way, probably some of them will go to prison.

They're going to be liable for so much money it's probably going to put the company in jeopardy. They screwed up big time. They're human beings. They made an incredible mistake.

KING: Congressman Grayson, is this -- is this now a national emergency? And if so, should we be in charge and not BP?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: I think we've done enough already to try to improve the situation. Think about what we've already done. We've used military aircraft to spread the dispersant. We've bought hundreds of miles worth of booms to spread along the coast to protect the coastline.

We have 160 ships operating under Coast Guard command to do controlled burning on the surface. We have done a tremendous amount already, and the Coast Guard is in charge. But the Coast Guard is not going to give BP the bailout that they seem to want to have because BP doesn't deserve that.

BP has to be held responsible for this. And that's what the Coast Guard is doing.

KING: Ben, do we have to review the whole relationship now between the government and the oil companies?

STEIN: I think we have to review some -- more than that. We have to review the safety of offshore drilling altogether. I mean, apparently -- and I'm a great friend of the oil industry, but I think nobody realized how much power and pressure is building up under these wells.

This is apparently something in the nature of a volcanic eruption under ground. Apparently the people involved have said they've never seen so much force coming out. We've got to wonder whether this can happen again, whether we've got to have new, much more powerful blowout for decades and everything.

But it does not do any good to beat up endless BP. They're going to be sued for all eternity about this as it is.

KING: Does it also tell us, Congressman Grayson, that if we go more nuclear, there will be an accident there, too?

GRAYSON: Not necessarily, but it is interesting that this has happened again to BP. This is their third accident in five years. They had an oil refinery that was set on fire by an accident. They had a blowout in 2006 at a different well.

And now they're having a blowout there and Transocean says it was BP's bad instructions to fill that pipe with seawater instead of mud that led to this explosion. So I think BP needs to be brought under control. They've cost $2.5 billion to fishermen in the area, $3 billion to the tourist industry already and counting, and this is something they have to be held responsible for.

KING: Ben, is a crime involved here?

STEIN: I think --

KING: Eleven people died.

STEIN: Well, I think 11 people died. If it's proved it's severe negligence it's a crime. Look, we live in a fallen world. People make terrible mistakes. But this mistake was catastrophically bad.

The latest news is that they had warnings several hours before that something like a volcanic eruption was going to happen. They could have shut down the well. Stopped it or very likely stop it. They didn't do it.

Catastrophically bad mistakes were made. A mistake, if it's bad enough, can be criminal.

KING: How big of a congressional inquiry is -- coming, Congressman?

GRAYSON: Well, I think you're going to see all sorts of inquiries. We've gotten reports already from the Coast Guard. The Interior Department has put a moratorium on new drilling in the gulf until we figure out what happened here and figure out what we need to do to prevent it.

So you're going to see, I think, criminal inquiries. You're going to see Justice Department inquiries that are civil in nature in order to hold BP responsible for the damage that they can be held responsible for under the law.

And of course you're going to see lawsuits. We've already seen dozens of lawsuits filed by people who were injured by this and want to get remuneration.

KING: BP is, though, a trillion -- trillions dollars company, isn't it?

STEIN: I don't know if it's trillions. I'm not sure there are any trillion-dollar companies but it's a very, very large company and it will be sued and it has insurance and it has reinsurance. And the risk will be spread all over the place.

But at the end of the day, if somebody knew something like this was likely to happen and just said, keep pumping like mad, I think there may be criminal liability.

I have always felt that if someone does something seriously bad a criminal sanction is better than a sanction on the stockholders.

Look, I'm a stockholder of BP through mutual funds. You are, I'm sure, too. I'm sure most of your viewers are in their retirement fund. Why should we be punished? Why shouldn't it be people who actually were there on the watch and made the mistake be put in prison if they did it criminally negligently?

KING: Congressman, can we hold a corporation criminally responsible for something?

GRAYSON: We can, but unfortunately we can't institute a corporate death penalty. That's beyond our power.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAYSON: But people should know -- people should understand that this is a -- this is a well that's been in use now for 10 years, and this particular well was cited 18 times for violations before this happened. So at some point, you have to say to yourself, are these people responsible enough to be doing something that can cause this kind of damage and this kind of danger to the public?

The answer in this case I think is more and more as evidence accumulates, no.

KING: Thank you both very much. Always good seeing you.

STEIN: Thank you very much, Larry. Nice to see you.

KING: Ben stein, Congressman Alan Grayson.

One reminder, next week is our anniversary week. And one of the nights we'll have a very special surprise guest. You'll hear about it probably announced on Tuesday. Stay tuned for that. I promise you, you will welcome it.

Coming up a loser that's a winner. He used to weigh 526 pounds. Last night Michael Ventrella won this season's "The Biggest Loser." And he's here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hundred, sixty-four pounds. Michael, you did it. Congratulations, Michael. You are the biggest loser. Come on down. Get a hug.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Michael Ventrella, winner of NBC's "The Biggest Loser." Let's take a brief look back at his journey to the "Biggest Loser" win. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael, who weighed 526 pounds, was the heaviest contestant ever to step foot on the ranch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how you're carrying all this weight every single day, Michael. We've got to get your life back.

MICHAEL VENTRELLA, WINNER OF "THE BIGGEST LOSER": As I'm pushing forward and losing the weight and getting to where I need to be and I want to be and I dream about being, I'm feeling proud of myself, which is not a familiar feeling.

When you're 526 pounds, all the hurt is slowly blown away because every day I'm waking up with happiness.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congratulations, Michael. Frankly, how did -- how did you get so heavy?

VENTRELLA: I -- I was born a heavy child. My mom said that the first month as an infant I doubled my weight. And then within a couple of weeks after that I was already off, you know, formula and it's just -- I was already dealt a bad deck of cards at birth.

And from then on I just never felt like I had hope or, you know, a chance at living a healthy life. I just -- that's all I've known, is being overweight.

KING: At the 526-pound level, what would you eat in a day?

VENTRELLA: Oh, geez. I was an emotional eater. And I believe that everybody is overweight for different reasons. So you have to, like, assess what your reason is for it. And for me, I was an emotional eater. So if I had a bad day at work or stressed out about family problems or, you know, bills and debt -- was a big issue with me -- I would just, like -- I don't know.

I would blank out and then I'd be driving and realize there's a whole pizza on my passenger seat and I just -- I'd polish it off. And then I'd walk through the door at home and my mom's cooking dinner. She's like, are you hungry? Yes. And I'd sit down and eat dinner.

And then -- I mean after that, it was like three bowls of cereal for dessert. It was ridiculous. I look back and I was like, I was killing myself. Killing myself.

KING: What did you do for a living? What do you do?

VENTRELLA: Mobile deejay.

KING: All right. How were with you able to get around?

VENTRELLA: You know, as big as I was, I moved. I lived life. I wasn't wheelchair-bound. I mean, I struggled. I couldn't breathe. I was falling asleep at the wheel because I had sleep apnea that was going untreated because I, you know, had a job that didn't have health insurance.

There was so many risks. Not only just for myself but for people around me. Not good.

KING: A lot of people when they lose a lot of weight have what they call sinking skin. Do you have that?

VENTRELLA: Just a little bit at my lower stomach and my inner thighs. But everything else I have to tell you -- my chest, everything is good. Dr. H is so surprised and very happy for me. And I'm happy with the results, too. I mean, it's -- I'm like an anomaly. It's crazy. My body is just bouncing back, and I love it.

KING: Since you were born with a physiological problem, how do you know that you've licked it?

VENTRELLA: Because I really was stressing out when I left the ranch going home for that month and thinking that, how do I live, you know, this life the way I've been, you know, with my eating regiment and my workout regiment?

How you do I keep to it at home? And when I got home, I realized this is second nature for me. I've been doing it for so long now every week that it was just -- it's just my natural habit.

When I grab a bowl of cereal for breakfast, I put the bowl on my scale and weigh my cereal before I eat it. It was just -- I've done it for so long. That's how I live now. I'm not that person as before.

You know, like now when a problem arises, I think of a way to extinguish it and not, you know, process it in the way that I make a bad situation worse. So there's a lot of changes --

KING: How do people react to you -- how do they react to you now when they see you?

VENTRELLA: I've had people scream and pull on my clothes in the middle of the street. I've had, you know, people slam on their brakes as I'm like, you know, jogging past them on the street. I've had, you know, just like women shaking and crying.

It's -- it's such a powerful thing. And I had no idea that I had such an influence like this on anybody.

KING: Wow.

VENTRELLA: And I'm honored, but, you know, I just -- I feel like a normal person. I just --

KING: Great story.

VENTRELLA: For once, I took time to assess my needs instead of being that caring person that I have been all my life and just worried about other people so much. And, you know, I mean there's -- there's so many reasons. So many reasonings --

KING: Yes, Michael --

VENTRELLA: -- for why I've gotten that big.

KING: Michael will remain with us in the next segment. Coming up, the runner-up, Ashley Johnson. Lost more weight than any female contestant in the show's history. And the trainer Bob Harper is here, too.

Put you down the cookie, put you down the remote. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Mike Ventrella, our "Biggest Loser" winner, remains with us in New York. Joining us here in Los Angeles, Ashley Johnston, runner-up on the season of "The Biggest Loser, and Bob Harper, team trainer for "The Biggest Loser."

Ashley was called the ninja by some. She snuck up on her "Biggest Loser" rivals. Many of them underestimated her. Here's part of her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ashley. A daughter who has always dreamed of making her father proud.

ASHLEY JOHNSTON, RUNNER-UP ON "THE BIGGEST LOSER": He always wanted me to be healthy. So for me to finally have conquered this would mean a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ashley, are you ready to go home?

JOHNSTON: No. I'm learning life goals here that I'm going to take home with me forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go.

JOHNSTON: And, you know, you plant a seed and the tree starts to grow and it's like -- right now I kind of feel unstoppable.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How did you get so heavy, Ashley?

JOHNSTON: You know, I ate my problems. I definitely -- it was a mental thing for me, and once I figured out what was wrong on the inside with losing my father and overcoming that, I was able to get everything worked out in my mind and really get the weight off.

KING: It didn't start until your father died?

JOHNSTON: I had weight problems as a child, but easily could have been -- I was not at the brink of, you know, 374 pounds whatsoever. Could have easily been cured.

KING: What's the biggest problem, Michael in New York and Ashley here, faced, Bob?

BOB HARPER, TEAM TRAINER, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": I think now that after they have had the finale it's about maintenance. It's about living their lives. And using the tools that Jillian and I tried to teach them while they were at the ranch. I think that's the hardest part.

KING: Do you want -- Michael, do you want to keep losing more?

VENTRELLA: Oh, yes. I'm definitely not done. Even though last night was the finale for "The Biggest Loser," season nine, it doesn't mean it's the finale for Michael Ventrella's weight loss. And keeping it off and getting healthy, I plan on lifting weights and really getting physically fit to my standards.

KING: Do you have a goal?

VENTRELLA: I don't really have a goal, like of a weight, per se, because as I start building muscle and losing fat, my weight should kind of even out a little bit. I'm just going to go by measurements from now on and how good I feel and look. That's how I'm going to keep mine off.

KING: Are you going to keep losing, Ashley?

ASHLEY JOHNSTON, RUNNER UP, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Definitely. I want to do at least 30 more pounds. And like Michael, I'm going to start lifting weights and work on getting toned up. I'm not there yet, but I'm close.

BOB HARPER, TEAM TRAINER, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": I don't like when they're attached to a number, though. I think numbers start to scare me. It should be more about how your clothes fit, how you're feeling on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, if you're trying to lose weight, you do want to see the number go down, but if you really think how you feel and being fit and healthy, you don't have to worry about the number.

KING: It was such hard work, Ashley. Did you ever think of quitting?

JOHNSON: Oh, my gosh, day one, I fell off the treadmill and I thought I wanted to leave.

(LAUGHTER)

But I was like, I signed a contract, I'm here. Days were harder than others. I definitely stuck it out and I started finding I was a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. And I made it to the end.

HARPER: She was the ninja. She really was. We all did not see her coming.

KING: How do you explain that?

HARPER: Ashley was one of the first that did fall off the treadmill. She was thinking, how am I getting out of here. The next thing, a light came on and she made it all the way to the finals and really deserved it. I mean, this girl worked so hard every single day.

KING: Were there a time, Ashley, and same for you, Michael, where you knew you went over the hump? You were going to make it?

JOHNSTON: Yes. I had my aha-moment definitely on the ranch. It was actually after I biked the 26 miles. I biked a marathon. And at that moment, I thought, I just biked a marathon and I feel great. I'm unstoppable now. What else can I do?

KING: Michael, did you have a moment?

VENTRELLA: My moments were with every week. Every week, I got on that scale and I defeated my old self.

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, it's true. Every time I got -- I accomplished something that I was not able to do before. Every time I broke a record. Every time that Bob pushed me to a new limit that I didn't even think was possible within myself. Those were my aha-moments. It was those little aha-moments that built up to where I am now. So I owe a great deal of appreciation and thanks to Bob and Ashley and everybody else that partook in my journey.

KING: What do you think, Ashley, when you look at the pictures of yourself?

JOHNSTON: That's -- I don't recognize that girl in the beginning anymore. I don't know -- like I remember her because I will always remember her. But that's not who I am anymore.

KING: Is it harder on women, do you think, Bob? That society looks differently at the overweight woman than the overweight man?

HARPER: I think that, of course, women have a certain idea of how they want themselves to look from the covers of all these magazines and how they see people on television. I think that women really are very judgmental when it comes to themselves. So it's like -- But I see the same with men. I mean, Michael was the guy that was 526 pounds. I mean, he wanted to look a certain way. He wanted to fit in the jeans that he saw all his friends wearing. I think that everyone has that kind of same feeling of, I want to fit in.

KING: Do you have a boyfriend, Ashley?

JOHNSTON: I do not have a boyfriend right now, but I am looking.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Michael, are you involved with a girl?

VENTRELLA: No, not at all. But -- I don't know if I'm looking. I'm just enjoying what I've accomplished thus far.

Ashley, call me.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Are you going to keep -- why not? Are you going to keep it off, Ashley?

JOHNSTON: I'm definitely going to keep it off. That's one thing that is scary to me, that's the one thing I cannot let myself do is get back to that old me.

KING: Don't fail.

Bob, stay. Hang around.

Michael Ventrella, congratulations.

VENTRELLA: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

KING: Ashley, congratulations.

JOHNSTON: Thank you very much.

KING: It's time for a top moment in "LARRY KING LIVE" history. 16.3 million viewers watched this one, making it the most-watched history in CNN history. It's the NAFTA debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Larry King and CNN present the NAFTA debate.

KING: We've got an ordinary citizen debating a vice president. Never done in history. A momentous occasion. NAFTA was going to lose in Senate. It changed that night. Al Gore called me on Sunday morning. The vote was scheduled for like ten days away. He said, I would like to debate Ross Perot, who was very vocal against it. Al Gore later told me he and the president were the only two who agreed on him doing that. Everyone in the White House, who came with Gore, didn't want to do it.

ROSS PEROT, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're talking about something like a trickle of water coming over Niagara Falls as opposed to the gusher. You know it.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You say --

(CROSSTALK)

PEROT: Do you guys ever do anything but propaganda? Do you --

(CROSSTALK)

PEROT: Would you even know the truth if you saw it?

GORE: Oh, yes, I would.

PEROT: I don't believe you would. We've been up here to long.

GORE: Let me ask you a question.

PEROT: Please let me finish. This is not "Cross Fire," is it, Larry?

KING: You've got two talkers. All you do is referee.

GORE: We're not a nation of quitters. We're not a nation that's afraid to compete.

PEROT: We've got to have a climate in this country where we can create jobs in the good old USA.

It'll only take a minute to this snake. Go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

GORE: Can we talk about NAFTA?

PEROT: Excuse me, Larry.

I don't interrupt. May I finish?

KING: But he did -- he brought up a specific point.

PEROT: Can I finish?

KING: Yes.

PEROT: Let's have an unnatural event and try not to interrupt me.

KING: Let him respond. All right.

PEROT: How can I answer if you keep interrupting?

GORE: Go ahead. How do you stop it without NAFTA?

PEROT: Give me your whole mind.

GORE: I'm listening. I haven't heard the answer. But go ahead.

PEROT: You haven't quit talking.

KING: It was the largest audience in regularly scheduled cable television.

GORE: It's extremely important that we make the right decision. This is a fork in the road. The whole world is watching.

KING: That debate changed the debate from the United States. I love Ross Perot, but Gore cleaned his clock. He wiped him out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Don't forget to enter our sweepstakes at CNN.com/Larryking for a chance to meet me here in Los Angeles, see the show. We'll even have dinner. More to come with our biggest losers. Our next contestant, Shay Sorrels. She just made $52,000 by losing weight. She'll tell us how she traded pounds for cash, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Your current weight is 252. You lost 52 pounds! Shay, come on down. You have won $52,000, Shay!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining me is Shay Sorrells. She competed in "The Biggest Loser." Subway offered her $1,000 for every pound she lost between last season and this season's finale weigh-in.

Let's take a look back at Shay on last season's biggest loser. She didn't finish first, but she changed her life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAY SORRELLS, CONTESTANT, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Walking on to this campus, I was scared. I didn't know if I was going to make it through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get on the ladder or go out the door!

And walking out of that gym from that first workout, it was a turning point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job, Shay. Shay is making it up there.

SORRELLS: I wouldn't change a single thing that I've done here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How did Subway come to make that deal with you?

SORRELLS: Subway just, out of the kindness of their heart, I guess, saw my story and what I had done and how far I'd come and how far I still had to go, decided they wanted to partner up with me, and just an amazing incentive. $1,000 a pound. That's never offered, doesn't happen, along with all the Subway that I could eat and --

VENTRELLA: We love Subway.

SORRELLS: Yes.

KING: Then they offered to increase it, right, by you doing what?

SORRELLS: They just offered to double it if I can complete a marathon by the end of this year with Jared.

KING: You plan to do it?

SORRELLS: Absolutely. Absolutely. Being on "The Biggest Loser," you already have it in your mind you can do anything. So a marathon was something always in the back of my head, but it's definitely in the forefront now.

KING: What's the farthest you've ever run?

SORRELLS: Seven miles.

KING: This 26 now.

(LAUGHTER)

SORRELS: Yes, it is. Right. But seven miles at 300 pounds is almost like 26 miles at --

(LAUGHTER)

KING: How did she do, Bob?

HARPER: Shay did such a fantastic job. This girl was the one that always put everyone before her. Now all of a sudden, to find out that she wanted to live just a happy and healthy life, it was just such you an eye-awakening experience.

KING: How did you get so big?

SORRELLS: I started out heavy. I was born 10 pounds and gained weight. Everyone in my family was heavy. But for me, my mom was a heroin addict and I was in foster care. I turned to food as my everything, my parent, my brother, my sister, anything that was absent in my life. That's what it became for me. It just continued. In the last year, I was in grad school writing my thesis and I gained 100 pounds. That's how I got to 476.

KING: How did you feel when you looked at yourself?

SORRELLS: When I looked at myself, you really -- you try not to look at yourself most of the time. You try and avoid mirrors. I was so busy living for everyone else that I wasn't living for myself. And I wasn't paying much attention, sadly.

KING: What shook you up you to go into "The Biggest Loser"?

SORRELLS: When my mom passed away. And I had realized that had died from her addiction. I didn't want to die from mine.

KING: With this, Bob, as a trainer, what's the double difficulty you face? It's not like you're training a 180-pound guy who wants to keep trim.

HARPER: The one thing I've found out with working with overweight people for as long as I have is that they are much stronger than people give them credit for. You do have to be careful when you're trying to get someone like Shay, when she was almost 500 pounds, to be able to just move her body and not turn an ankle. But Shay was strong, just like Michael, 526 pounds. He was a strong man. We with just know how to push him and know how to get the results Jillian and I always get.

KING: You push your family, too?

SORRELLS: I have. My husband has lost 70 pounds and just -- it's great. It's a new lifestyle. It's a change. You can't go back to who you were ever. I'm a new person entirely. From here on out, for the rest of my life, it's new.

KING: What happens when you see food you used to gorge?

SORRELLS: There are certain foods in my world that just don't exist any more.

KING: Like?

SORRELLS: They just don't exist. There not there.

VENTRELLA: Ice cream.

SORRELLS: Ice cream is one of them. I've found frozen yogurt. That is my new great treat. I can have it. I know exactly how much I can have in it, I know what I can have in it and where. It's just looking at food differently. I don't look at food the way I used to, as something that I needed, something I wanted. It's fuel. It's put into my body so my body can move and do the things I need to do with it.

HARPER: Shay had to find a whole different relationship with food because she was so fueled by it, it was her addiction. I know that, for her, it was like getting her to really think, like, OK, here are the foods that I can have and here are the foods I have to stay away from.

KING: How much ice cream could you eat?

SORRELLS: I would eat at least a half gallon within two days. And I'm lactose intolerant. So it hurt to eat it, but I still ate it because it was just a comfort food for me. It was something I could always have.

KING: I salute you, Shay. And run the marathon. They'll give you more money.

SORRELLS: Absolutely.

HARPER: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Bob remains.

Hey, they lost weight, but they found love. It's the romance of the season. Stephanie and Sam will talk cupid and weight loss, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with more guests from "The Biggest Loser."

Right now, let's go to New Orleans, a city who's seen its share of losing.

Anderson Cooper standing by. He'll host "AC 360."

What's happened now?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": Well, Larry, New Orleans is on the rise, but the marshes are not. South of here, we're keeping them honest. The cleanup that isn't happening. That's what we're going to show you tonight. Marshes coated in crude, a sickening stench of petroleum in the air, and the frightening realization that the marshes and ecosystems they support are dying. Right now, it seems nothing is being done about it. I'll show you my boat tour with the governor of Louisiana, ahead tonight.

Also, another story we're working on. Why is a federal agent being paid to do virtually nothing, day after day, week after week? According to some, he's a victim of a culture of retaliation within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That's part of our "360 Investigation."

Those stories and a lot more from the gulf, Larry, tonight at the top of the hour.

KING: That's 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific, with, on the move, Anderson Cooper.

Joining us now, Stephanie Anderson and Sam Poueu. They met on season of the "The Biggest Loser" and are now a couple in love. They tried to keep their romance under wraps, but their love story finally got told.

Here is a little of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE ANDERSON, CONTESTANT, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Hey!

SAM POUEU, CONTESTANT, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Hey, baby doll. Hi. How are you?

ANDERSON: Good.

POUEU: We kind of started our relationship in week three.

ANDERSON: No!

POUEU: We've gone through this transformation together, this huge transformation, where we've seen each other at our worst and now, coming into our best, we're here for each other every day. ANDERSON: I firmly believe that I was chosen to be on "The Biggest Loser" to save my mom's life, to save my life, and to meet Sam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Happy romance here.

What did you weigh, Stephanie?

ANDERSON: I started off at 264 pounds.

KING: How much did you lose?

ANDERSON: I lost 99 pounds.

KING: Sam?

POUEU: 372 was my starting weight.

KING: And you lost?

POUEU: 142.

KING: Did you two click right away? How did this happen?

ANDERSON: Yes. I think there was a mutual attraction from the start. We started spending time together, working out, hiking, getting to know each other. And that friendship turned into a like that now has now developed into a love.

KING: It was a couples' show, though, right, Bob?

HARPER: Yes, it was couple show but they didn't start out as couples.

KING: Right. That's what I mean. But you said -- did you find out their secret?

HARPER: Oh, yes, yes, I found out.

KING: What did you lurk in the night?

HARPER: I was searching around. These guys, all they're doing is working out and eating right. They have to find something else to do to fill up the time, I guess.

KING: What was the toughest part of losing it, Stephanie?

ANDERSON: I think, not just physical, but mental and emotional walls we had that we had to break through with Bob and Jillian's help, and doing this with my mom and seeing her get healthy. And finding that connection with Sam and finally allowing myself to be loved and loving myself.

KING: What about you, Sam? POUEU: Definitely, the mental transformation, taking ownership of my life and taking responsibility for the mess I had made of my life prior to being on the show. When that all clicked, then we were good.

KING: We'll be back with more of Stephanie and Sam.

But it's time to take a look at another top moment in Larry king history. This one, a "LARRY KING LIVE" staff favorite, the man I in black, the legendary Johnny Cash. Watch. watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

JOHNNY CASH, SINGER: You walk into my clothes closet, it's dark in there.

(LAUGHTER)

Dark.

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash.

(SINGING)

KING: Every man knows he is a sissy compared to Johnny Cash.

(LAUGHTER)

Well said.

I always liked being with him. Interviewed him quite a few times back in the old days, radio and television.

CASH: Keep my eyes open all the time.

(SINGING)

KING: There's a whole interesting story about "I Walk the Line." He recorded that. Heard it on the radio and didn't like it.

CASH: I said, don't send out "I Walk the Line" to the radio stations, I don't want to hear it anymore. He said, well, you'll have to keep your radio off because it's playing everywhere.

(LAUGHTER)

(SINGING)

KING: Are you bitter?

CASH: Bitter? No.

KING: You're a young guy, you're only 70.

CASH: No, I'm not bitter. Why should I be bitter? I'm thrilled to death with life.

KING: No cure?

CASH: No, I don't think so. But that's all right. There's no cure for life either.

KING: Death is the hardest thing to deal with from an interviewing standpoint because no one really knows what's going to happen. I don't care what anybody said, everybody's frightened.

CASH: It's been beautiful. I've been with you many times, Larry, and it's all been uphill every time. You remember?

KING: Yes.

CASH: Things have been good and things will get better all the time.

KING: He was special. There'll never be another Johnny Cash. I miss him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Pick your top five moments at CNN.com/Larryking. We'll count them down beginning Monday. Vote as many times as you like. The voting begins Sunday.

Next, he lost 243 pounds but has he kept it off? Season three winner, Erik Chopin, he joins us, gives us the skinny, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Stephanie Anderson and Sam and Bob remain with us. We're joined now by Erik Chopin, winner of season three of "The Biggest Loser." He lost 214 pounds on the show and regained much of it.

What happened?

ERIK CHOPIN, PREVIOUS WINNER, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": I did regain much of it. I recently recovered, Larry. I kind of lost my purpose in life. I didn't know what I wanted to do and I kind of medicated myself with food. Food has always been my addiction.

But I recently stayed at "The Biggest Loser" resort and it's there where I found out a little bit more about my purpose with -- dealing with a professional counselor. We kind of hashed it out. I realized that what I need to put in my life is helping people that struggle with the same thing I have, that I started with. And can I come from the world of experience, doing this twice.

KING: So you're on the losing grade?

CHOPIN: I am. I am. I had got -- I started the show back in '06 at 407 and got down to 193 pounds. And then I climbed back up almost to where I was, at 368. But I'm here today, I'm at 250. I have a little bit more to go but I'm real close to the goal.

KING: Does this encourage you for discourage you, Stephanie?

ANDERSON: I think it's a testament. It encourages me. Things happen and he's now taking control of his life again. It's a daily thing that we're always going to have to work on.

KING: What about you, Sam?

POUEU: Same thing. For me, it's inspiring to see that he's still working at it. Because I understand now this is a work in progress for the rest of our lives.

KING: Now, what happens, Bob? They can keep coming back for help?

HARPER: Of course. We will always be there. Jillian and I have like taken these guys under our wings from the very beginning of --

KING: It doesn't cost them anything?

HARPER: Oh, I mean -- for what Erik works on the fitness ridge, I mean --

CHOPIN: I think, it's losers -- I think it's kind of a family now. I think the show, in the beginning, it had an evolution. I was season three, maybe a little more of -- we were a little like a lab rats back then. I don't know.

HARPER: Yes --

(LAUGHTER)

CHOPIN: But I think nowadays, they've been contacted and, listen, we want to help you, we've seen you struggle. And they did, they reached out to me.

KING: Do you think you are going to win it this time?

CHOPIN: I won it already, Larry. I won it already. Now, I'm winning my life back. That's what it's about. It's not about the next weigh-in for me. I discovered that now. I want to help people. I want people to follow me at erikchopin.com. And I really want to just coach and get people through this, because it's a life-long struggle.

KING: I salute you, Eric.

CHOPIN: Thank you.

KING: Bob, thanks for being with us.

And best of luck, Stephanie, Sam.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

KING: Let us know when it happens.

(LAUGHTER)

POUEU: Got you.

KING: Sad note tonight. Legendary broadcast personality, Art Linkletter, has died. He was 97. Art hosted "People are Funny" and "House Party." I interviewed him so many times.

Here's a brief excerpt from one of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Billy Graham, on this program, recently said, if he died right then and there, he would be very happy. He knew what would be ahead. It would be paradise. He's going to heaven. What do you believe?

ART LINKLETTER, BROADCAST PERSONALITY: It would depend what's going on. I like a lot of activity. Heaven sounds too placid to me. Now, there's a lot to do in hell.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Why would you want to go there?

LINKLETTER: I don't know.

KING: But I mean, if you died right now, he said he would be happy. Have you led a happy life?

LINKLETTER: I've led a happy life. Yes, I've worked hard to be successful in happiness. I've been a good husband. I've been a hard worker. I'm not ashamed of anything I've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Thoughts go out to his family. He will be missed. Art Linkletter.

Time now for "AC 360." And Anderson Cooper in New Orleans -- Anderson?