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Politicians Campaign as Midterms Near; Foreclosure Freeze Hurting Some Home Owners Who Wish to Declare Bankruptcy; Chef Uses Rooftop Grown Produce for Recipes; Author and Entrepreneur Chris Gardner Talks About His Life; Stem Cell Research Begins New Phase; China Featured In Many Midterm Political Ads; Debates Highlight Politicians Personalities; Carl Paladino Facing Backlash From Anti-Gay Remarks

Aired October 16, 2010 - 14:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: A roadmap on how to be the best parent possible during difficult times from the man who inspired the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness," face to face with Chris Gardner.

And, oh, boy, those guys over at Dude Perfect are at it again. See their latest trick shot during our 3:00 hour.

And who won the Delaware debate? Decide for yourselves. We're running the entire debate. It begins in our 4:00 eastern hour.

You're in the CNN newsroom where the news unfolds live this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Midterm elections just 17 days away, and there's a huge push today to inspire voters to get to the polls. Some heavy hitters are on the trail, including President Barack Obama. He wants to make sure Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick stays in office.

And "The Best Political Team in Television" is on the job. Our Dan Lothian is in Boston where the president is expected to speak next hour. Our Brianna Keiler is in Maryland where the sitting governor is in the race of his career.

And later today, Jessica Yellin will take you to California where former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be joining the stage with Republican National Party chairman Michael Steele.

So let's begin in Boston with Dan Lothian. Dan, the president is on the campaign trail again, not for himself, not directly, but for at least the Massachusetts governor.

DAN LOTHIAN: That's right, we've seen the president and the first lady really step up their campaigning over the last few days. The president has just landed here in Boston, the campaign for Governor Duval Patrick. They are very close friends. They have the Chicago connection, both went to Harvard.

And when then Senator Obama came in the campaign twice in the state for Governor Duval Patrick when he was running in his first gubernatorial race, and then Governor Duval Patrick was one of the earliest endorsements.

And so now the president coming here to help him out to solidify the Democratic base. Many political analysts believe that in order for Duval Patrick to pull off a win, he really needs to get the base, the Democratic base. And President Obama still remains popular among that group here.

He does, Duval Patrick, have a seven point lead, but this remains a very competitive race. He's running against Republican businessman Charlie Baker who now is saying, listen, the fact that he has president Obama coming here to Massachusetts to campaign for him shows that he's a bit nervous. So he's playing that up and playing up trying to tie Duval Patrick to President Obama, saying both of them really do nothing but focus on taxing and spending Americans.

So a very competitive race going on here, President Obama hoping to pull off a win for his close friend.

WHITFIELD: And so, Dan, the White House thinks this is fairly risk free given that it was a fairly risky move for the president to campaign for Martha Coakley back in the day when she was pushing for the late Ted Kennedy's seat?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Risk free in this particular race right now, but you're right. Back in January, when the president made that last minute visit for Martha Coakley, it had been widely viewed she ran a lackluster campaign. The president came at the last minute to help her pull off a win.

But of course We know what the ending to that story was, Scott Brown pulled off a remarkable comeback, and it was a disappointment for the Democratic Party and a look back for the president who came here, tried to help her win and wasn't able to do so. Obviously, the White House hoping for better results on this visit.

WHITFIELD: Dan Lothian traveling with the president, who will somewhere within the next couple hours will be taking to the podium there. Dan, thank you so much.

Now to Brianna Keiler in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where another Democratic incumbent is feeling the heat in a close race for governor. Brianna, what is expected to happen today?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a get out the vote effort. This is really sort of the headquarters of the touch point for a lot of union members here trying to get out the vote for Democratic candidates in general.

But specifically it has to do with this tight governor's race here in Maryland. Martin O'Malley is the incumbent Democrat. He's facing the Republican who four years ago he ousted, former governor Bob Ehrlich. It's a tight race.

So what you have are these union members going out right now, there are neighborhoods around this area, which is a Democratic stronghold. They're knocking on doors, and chances are in this area, you knock on a door, it's going to be a Democrat that comes to the door. So they're trying to bridge that will enthusiasm gap we've been talking about, some Democrats who maybe aren't as keen to come out as they were in 2008.

So you have these folks going to doors about 60 or 70 doors each we're told, and asking people to vote, telling them where they can vote, and also telling them, hey, if you even need a right, that's something we can supply.

I just interviewed Governor O'Malley and Bob Ehrlich spoke to CNN earlier, and both said it's all about turnout. It's all about whether more voters come out. It's really going to be about this enthusiasm for them. And so that's why you have these get out the vote efforts for them on the other side too, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Usually when we talk about the balance of power, people envision Congress, but now apparently that's a discussion being brought into the gubernatorial races. Why?

KEILAR: That's right. We do get so obsessed looking at Congress. I cover Congress. And we're frequently thinking, if anything's going to change power here, maybe it's the House of Representatives, we look at that and we dissect it.

But there's this whole other issue with governor's races. Right now there are 24 Republican governors, there are 26 Democrats, and a lot of election prognosticators say the Republicans stand poised to pick up maybe as many as several of these governorships this go around.

It's a big deal. Why, and this is something that Governor O'Malley said to me earlier -- it has to do with congressional redirecting. It's done every 10 years and done at the state level. Depending on how you carve out or redesign a district, you can make it safe for a Republican or a Democratic candidate.

This is something that has lasting effects, and this is why when you're looking at the state level, this really does matter and both Republicans and Democrats will tell you that, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Brianna Keilar, thanks so much in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

In the meantime, let's talk about the economy and putting the brakes on foreclosures. All 50 states are investigating the way banks foreclosed on homes. Many Americans have been caught up in the controversy. We'll hear about it in a live report.


WHITFIELD: All right, some of the nation's largest banks have put their foreclosures on hold to take a second look at the way paperwork is being processed. So the freeze buys some troubled homeowners a little more time, but in a different twist, others aren't interested in more time. Homeowners who have already filed for bankruptcy are desperate to get things moving as we hear from National Correspondent Susan Candiotti.


VIRGINIA OBASI, HOMEOWNER: This is a nightmare, because I didn't expect this.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Virginia Obasi wants to be declared bankrupt. The single mother of six, a veteran New York grade schoolteacher, dug herself into a financial hole she's been trying to fix after realizing her dream to buy a home five years ago.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): For you, owning a home means what?

OBASI: Owning a home meant success for me.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Three years and a $300,000 mortgage later, her taste of success spiraled out of control. Like many other Americans at that time, she was convinced she should buy a second home as an investment a much newer townhome in New Jersey she would rent out and it would pay for itself.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): You didn't think you were getting in over your head?



OBASI: I was trying to improve myself. That was the ideas, to make extra money.

CANDIOTTI: What did it turn out to be?

OBASI: It didn't come true.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The renters Obasi had been counting on couldn't make their payments, forcing her to file for bankruptcy this summer.

OBASI: If I could get this off my back, let them take back the house and leave me alone.

CANDIOTTI: But the foreclosure freeze put the skids on her bankruptcy. Now banks won't touch her second house.

DAVID SHAEV, ATTORNEY: We were attempting to surrender houses, to say here are the keys, please take it. We want you to sell the property, we want our client's name off the property, 8.675.

CANDIOTTI: To add insult to injury, Obasi's bankruptcy attorney says he found fraudulent lender's signatures on her first mortgage.

SHAEV: When you look at it, it's obviously a computerized signature. CANDIOTTI: Followed by two more signatures allegedly by the same person that look nothing alike. Until the freeze thaws, Obasi cannot pay off her bankruptcy and keep her original mortgage.

SHAEV: Until that happens, we're in limbo.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): You think one day you'll be able to solve all this?

OBASI: I'm hopeful.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Until then, her New Jersey home gathers dust and her nerves have seen better days.


CANDIOTTI: Now, like other Americans who filed for bankruptcy before the foreclosure moratorium, Virginia Obasi cannot force the bank to take back her home so she can regroup. She and the banks or other lenders have to wait out the freeze. Who knows how long that will take? Fred?

WHITFIELD: Are there a lot of people in the same position as Miss Obassi?

CANDIOTTI: That's a good question. There's no way of telling, but her attorney says the number of stalled bankruptcies is growing and growing fast nationwide. It appears that no one's tracking exactly how many, just like the number of foreclosures affected by the moratorium, nobody really knows for sure.

WHITFIELD: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much, joining us from New York.

Parenting -- it is no easy matter, no matter who you are, and no matter how much money you make.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of parents -- we gave our children all this stuff thinking we were giving them a better life, and what we find out is, no, we were just giving them better stuff.


WHITFIELD: He knows. Like so many of us entrepreneur Chris Gardner endured the joys and pains in his pursuit of happiness. More on my face to face conversation with him. He was the centerpiece of that movie and that book you likely read. He'll be up in five minutes.

And New York is a city of towering skyscrapers, but high in the sky, lush gardens are actually blooming. Richard Roth takes us to the edge of discovery, and a rooftop oasis that serves dinners -- a meal to remember.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I walked up six flights of stairs with New York chef John Mooney to see what's given root to his new restaurant, Bell, Book, and Candle. It's a rooftop farm where he will grow almost all the produce used at his 80 seat restaurant below.

JOHN MOONEY, CHEF, BELL BOOK AND CANDLE: We have basil here, tomato, bib lettuce, eggplant, romaine lettuce.

ROTH: He plucks the food from vertical towers that sore with the Manhattan skyline. He doesn't have to worry about getting his hands dirty, there is no dirt. Nutrient rich water has replaced soil in this advanced hydroponic system.

MOONEY: It floods it with oxygen, nutrients, and sun. It gives rapid growth. So the benefit of grabbing vertically is not only space management, but the way it's set helps the vegetables grow quicker and get everything they need.

ROTH: Mooney says he can grow food ten months out of the year and will preserve food before the coldest winter months set in. He says that this farming method will branch out beyond the rooftop.

MOONEY: I believe, especially in an urban setting, that this is the wave of the future. For home or commercial use, like a restaurant, but for a home setting, you can also supplement your family's diet, caring for the things and growing nutritious things at your home.

ROTH: But for now, the taste of the future is at Mooney's roof to table restaurant.

Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: The author of "The Pursuit of Happyness" tells me about a life lesson he gave his kids on Christmas Day. Face-to-face with entrepreneur Chris Gardner coming up.

But first, a quick look at the headlines. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. can do more in the fight against Mexico's murderous drug cartels. Speaking in San Francisco, Clinton compared the cartels to terror groups.

And pot buyers may be out of luck. Even if California voters approve a ballot initiative to legalize recreation marijuana use, Attorney General Eric Holder says the government will continue to vigorously enforce federal drug laws in the state even if Proposition 19 passes next month.

And Botox is not just for wrinkles any more. The FDA is approving the drug's use for chronic migraines. Some experts say the benefits are modest at best.

Chances are you're familiar with entrepreneur Chris Gardner and his inspiring memoir and movie called "The Pursuit of Happyness." Before all the fame and money, he was homeless and a single parent. He and I talked face to face about his struggles and his determination to forge a better life for his children.


WHITFIELD: How did you keep it together?

CHRIS GARDNER, PHILANTHROPIST, ENTREPRENEUR: I was passionate about a couple things. Honestly, going way back, I made the decision that if I had sleep in a bathrobe with my tied on my back as a 28- year-old tied to my back, I made that decision as a five-year-old boy because I grew up without a father.

And not only that, but with a stepfather that reminded me every day, I'm not your daddy. You ain't got no daddy. I made a promise to myself, when I grow up and become a man and have children, my children are going to know who their father is.

So fast forward to 28 years old, I got a 14-month-old baby tied on my back, hey, we were going to be together. I was passionate about that. That became part my DNA.

WHITFIELD: Now, for your son then, he remembers you, dad. That was the face he always saw. But then when he read the book, when he saw the movie, did it come together for him differently? Did he now see dad in a very different light?

GARDNER: No, no, no. This is where I have to spoil the first book for you. You keep talking about my son. Well, I have a son, but I also have a daughter who is four years younger and I've been a single parent for 23 years. I, like a lot of parents, I messed my children up.

WHITFIELD: What do you mean?

GARDNER: My kids have a very highly evolved sense of entitlement.


A lot of parents, we gave our children all this stuff, thinking we were giving them a better life. But what we find out, no, we were just giving them better stuff.

And I got to a point one day where I realized, you know what, we have to hit the brakes on all of this. And how I got there, coming home one day -- I'll never forget this. I'm hearing this arguing going on in my house. I'm coming from work and I'm hearing this arguing, and it's my son and my daughter.

My daughter, eight years old, runs up to me at the front door and says, papa, tell Chris I'm going to get your Ferrari when you die.


WHITFIELD: Oh, my god.

GARDNER: Right there, they are whacking up the goods. She's eight he's 12. Nobody can drive, who's going to get my Ferrari.


At that same time, they both decided to bring home report cards that began with the back end of the alphabet. And that's when I said no.

It was Christmas -- I'll never forget this. The tree's up, the presents are wrapped. I said don't touch nothing. We're not going to open a single present until the next report card comes out, which was in March.

WHITFIELD: That was a delayed Christmas.

GARDNER: All of their little friends had to come to the house, wondering why do you still have your tree up?


Why are all the presents here? Don't worry about that. But they got the message, man. And I've got to tell you right now, honestly, I am so proud of those two kids. I love them both dearly.

WHITFIELD: Are they getting these lessons, reminders of this all the time or you just let them do their own thing? You imposed life lessons.

GARDNER: The deal is, as long as I see you going-forward, I got you covered. As long as I see you going-forward, right? And that's what -- I think all of us as parents, that's all we want to do, see them going-forward, growing, doing positive things with their lives, right? That's all we can ask, and try to pursue their vision of happiness.

I remember two years ago, some people are going to say -- and some will say that doesn't make any sense -- having dinner with my daughter New Year's Eve, Chinese food at the house. And I opened this cookie and it says forget about the stock market, invest in your family.


WHITFIELD: Which he did from the very beginning, right?

Next hour, he talks about the movie that started all of us talking "The Pursuit of Happyness." And Chris Gardner talks about his relationship with the mega superstar who played him, you know who I'm talking about, Will Smith.

A mine disaster China this time -- we have the latest for the search for survivors there and the day's other top stories when we come back.



CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Hi, I'm Conan O'Brien, instead of doing yet another promo for my new show, I'm going to give you guys what you really want, top notch entertainment, check it out. I went out and bought this --


WHITFIELD: You must see the rest of what Conan O'Brien does to promote his upcoming new talk show on TBS. I'll give you a hint, it's gone viral. No surprise there. It's really, really wacky, in fact, understatement there. Josh Levs has the viral videos next hour.

Also, before you grab that next fast food meal, you'll want to see what "Prevention" magazine is calling the best and worst fast food chow. That's next hour right here on CNN.

In the meantime, another look at the top stories. In China, rescue workers are scrambling to reach 16 miners trapped by a coal mine explosion there. The gas explosion killed at least 21 miners. Another 239 actually managed to escape. Rescue workers have located the trapped miners and are clearing debris from a mine shaft to try to reach them.

And in Chile, all but two of those rescued miners have been allowed to actually go home. Doctors say the rest won't have any restrictions on their activities. The miners still in the hospital have been transferred to another building for treatment.

And Pakistani intelligence officials are reporting a cluster of suspected U.S. drone attacks. About a dozen people were killed yesterday in three separate attacks. All happened in north Waziristan, one of Pakistan's tribal region as long the border with Afghanistan.

And no shortage of big stories this week. Here's standup comedian and radio talk show host Pete Dominick with "What the Week?"

PETE DOMINICK, CNN HOST: It's been five days since Carl Paladino practically accused Andrew Cuomo of being a "Cuomo-sexual," four days since the Obama administration lifted the ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and three days since the Chilean miners saw the sunlight. And it's been 90 minutes since I dropped my cell phone in a toilet.

Buckle up kids, we're about to tear through all of it. Welcome to "What the Week?"

There's a difference between news and noise. I'm Pete Dominick, and I'm not just another pretty face, folks. On this show, we're not interested in celebrity gossip or virtual-reality reality shows. Forgot Brett Favre and forget Dancing with the kind of stars. Are they really stars?

I'm interested in the stories and issues that hit home. So I'm taking the cameras to the streets to hear what Americans really think of the news that shaped the week. Time now to catch up on the week that was. Hit it.


CARL PALADINO, (R) NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homo see homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York's Republican candidate for governor Carl Paladino lashed out against gays.

PALADINO: Andrew Cuomo took his children to a gay pride parade. I certainly wouldn't let my young children see that.

ROBERTS: The power parade, the secession process underway in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Obama administration lifted the moratorium on drilling imposed almost six months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a story that's gripped the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never have so many men been underground for so long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have these critical midterm elections coming up.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, (R) DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: You are just jealous you weren't on "Saturday Night Live."

CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm dying to see who's going to play me.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: These ideas of my opponent are really extreme.



JOSH LEVS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So Bill O'Reilly said no one he knows wants to insult Muslims, but people are tired of political correctness.

Actually Joe Burns is an openly gay city councilman in Fort Worth Texas. He revealed for the first time his own experience with bullies that he didn't plan to share until the recent rash of teen suicide.

JOE BURNS, FORT WORK, TEXAS, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: I know that life can seem unbearable. But I want you to know that it gets better.


DOMINICK: That's what's swimming up mainstream this week. But there were a lot of undercover stories as well, mainly because of the incredible coverage of the Chilean mine rescue.

The big ones that come to mind -- a federal judge this week issuing a stay on "don't ask, don't tell," the accused Ft. Hood shooter facing victim's families, and a federal district court judge in Florida ruling state's challenging the constitutionality of President Obama's health care plan can proceed with their lawsuits.

But for us here at "What the Week," the most under-covered story that has the most rippling effects, the beginning of the first human embryonic stem cell trial. I took a film crew and went lunch crashing to see what you think.


DOMINICK: Do you support embryonic stem cell research?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I mean, life begins at conception, so anything that stops that would be stopping life from forming. So it's --

DOMINICK: As soon as the egg is fertilized, which in this case it is, that's conception and you can't destroy that. You can't use it for anything but --


DOMINICK: Just to create a life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just an egg.

DOMINICK: It's a fertilized egg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not actually life yet. It don't have a heartbeat yet, does it?

DOMINICK: It's really a zygote, just a tiny cell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see nothing wrong with it.

DOMINICK: It could be, if it was put into a womb it would grow into a life, and that's the debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say go for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to help cure diseases, we have to do it. I mean, it's only help to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a religious standpoint life begins at creation, and taking something like that is considered a life.

DOMINICK: So to you, the fertilized egg, whether it's in a womb or a Petri dish is life and you cannot destroy that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I look at it is life in general for me, because I have three kids, it's so important, and to look at stem cell research on how that's going to help prolong life and help people in certain situations, I'm all for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly would have to have a little more research to understand it more. I think one of the things, having ignorance, people just come up with their own opinions without knowing the full story. So you have to know everything before you make a decision.


DOMINICK: Yes, a great point. You do have to know everything before making a decision on something as complicated and controversial as stem cell research. So give me 60 seconds to catch you up on what stem cells are and why this debate is so heated.

Stem cells are your body's master cells. Why is that important? Because there are cells in your body that don't normally get replaced. If they get sick or die, you could be out of luck.

But scientists believe that stem cells could be used to replace them, leading to cures for conditions as devastating as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, strokes, diabetes, and so on. Sounds, great, right?

Here's how it gets complicated. There are two types of stem cells -- embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells are less flexible, but embryonic can become anything and hold more potential. Unfortunately they can only be found in a fertilized human egg, or embryo, and that embryo is destroyed in the process.

Many see that as the destruction of a potential human life and they want embryonic stem cell research stopped. It's a tough debate. To learn more about it, visit the National Institute of Health's website at

Next, a sickness is spreading through our nation's politicians and no flu shot will clear it up, or stem cell. That won't help either. Our political playing of the week is coming up.


DOMINICK: So the economy has tanked, unemployment is nearly 10 percent, and you're running for office in a tough district. What do you do? Blame China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Barron Hill running for Congress in Indiana or China? He supported the $800 billion failed stimulus package that created renewable energy jobs in China. His big spending programs will keep us borrowing money from, you guessed it, China. Bo Hill is creating massive new debt here while he created renewable energy jobs over there.

Barron Hill, for Indiana or China?


DOMINICK: Some might call that ad strange, and you may even say it's a little racist. But it's hardly out of the ordinary. In fact, this week the "New York Times" reported that no less than 29 candidates from both sides of the aisle are trying to accuse their opponents of being in bed with China.

So why the sudden upsurge in anti-China sentiment, and why would voters be so scared of China in the first place? I hit the street again to talk it out.


DOMINICK: When I say the word "China," what do you think of?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't buy in China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their politics are still horrible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like Chinese people, I like Chinese food, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions of jobs have gone from America to China.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's the first step toward a one- world government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have all of these people are running for office saying we've got to get jobs. It's not the president. It's outsourcing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very concerned about that, and I think the technology is here. We just don't use it. Everybody's looking to save a little bit of money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't blame anyone but progress, I think is just the ebb and flow of the way business is. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We created our own monster, we kept buying cheap, we don't care who it comes from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I buy what pleases me. I don't care where it comes from.

DOMINICK: Do you make a conscious effort to buy made in America stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you, when 99 percent of all things are made in foreign countries.

DOMINICK: Clothing made in America? Your car?



DOMINICK: Look at that, a union man with a Honda CRV. Why not a Ford?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our workmanship is deteriorating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Outsourcing and the rest of it, I couldn't give you know information about -- I just like to pay my bills.


DOMINICK: Joining me now to talk about it, Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota governor and host of Tru TV's conspiracy theory, and Peter Sagal, host of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't tell me."

You have to admit guys, on paper China is pretty scary. We owe them over $800 billion. They've surpassed us as the world's worst polluter. And according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a nonpartisan independent group, we lost 2.4 million jobs to China between 2004 and 2008.

So is something more sinister going on here, shades of xenophobia? Former governor Jesse Ventura, you went to China when you were the governor, right? Where you afraid of communist China?

JESSE VENTURA, TRU TV HOST: No, not at all. I found China to be very interesting. I found the people over there remarkable.

And, you know, I think the problem here, Pete is this when you talk about a superpower. The worst thing in my opinion, a superpower can do is get involved in a bunch of wars around the world. History's proved that's what will bring a power down.

You don't see China involved in all this stuff. They're taking care of their people. They're taking care of their economy. They're doing everything they should be doing while we here in the United States are being the world's policeman. We're involved in a war in Iraq, we're involved in a war in Afghanistan. I'm sure Iran may be on the barometer soon enough. But to me, the worst thing you can do as a superpower is get yourself involved in wars throughout the world. It will bring you down, and it's bringing us down right now.

DOMINICK: Peter Sagal, are you afraid of communist China? Are they a threat? Are these ads just trying to scare people?

PETER SAGAL, NPR: Well, I don't think -- I think you heard Governor Ventura admit actually what's going on here, which is not so much fear and hatred, but sort of a sense of inferiority. It's like America is the scrappy small high school in Hoosiers and China is the big powerhouse, except at the end of our movie they keep beating us.

And I think that's what you're hearing. They're so much nicer, they built that really cool stadium, and we don't have anything like that. I think basically, if you were to scratch those politicians and poke them a little they'd start weeping and wishing they were Chinese.


DOMINICK: All right, guys, lets' switch gears and talk about our political play of the week. This week it's ADD or Asinine Debate Disorder.

How about the debate you saw right here on CNN between Delaware Senate candidates Christine O'Donnell, the one who's not a witch, and Chris Coons, the one who's not a bearded Marxist. I don't know about you guy, but I felt like this was like watching an hour long attack ad, about issues people don't really care about. Let's take a listen.


COONS: They jokingly called me a "bearded Marxist." If you take five minutes and read the article, it's clear on the face of it, it was a joke. Despite that, my opponent and lots of folks in the right wing media have endlessly spun this. I am not now, nor have I ever been anything but a clean shaven capitalist.


O'DONNELL: I would stand to disagree, because first of all, if you're saying what I said on a comedy show is relevant to this election, then absolutely you writing an article, forget the "bearded Marxist" comment, you writing an article saying you learned your beliefs from an articulate intelligent Marxist professor, and that's what made you become a Democrat, that should send chills up the spine of every Delaware voter, because if you compare that statement to your policies.

COONS: Again, if it were true, I'd agree.


DOMINICK: Jesse Ventura, you did a lot of things before you were a governor, an independent. Does it matter what people did in high school or early college years? If it did -- VENTURA: Well, I don't think so, because we all change. If we're running for office and we're 22 years old, 25 years old, then, yes, it does matter. I ran for office when I was nearly 50 years old and I think all of us do things when we're young that we regret at times and say, that was stupid of me.

But that's all part of the growing process of maturing and all that, so I don't really believe you can hold somebody responsible for what they did way back when they went to college and things of that order.

Peter Sagal, do these debates ad anything? Were there real important issues and answers and solutions being discussed, sir?

SAGAL: Well, they were, both in that one and the debate in Nevada. But of course nobody paid any attention to them. They paid attention to how well each candidate performed. Did they give out their talking points with an incredible degree of enthusiasm?

That to me is weird. We're judging these fairly important political debates or contests with the same standards we apply to "American Idol." How well did they do, how well did they hold the stage? If we're going to do that, I say, let's go to Delaware and make Crystal Bauersox senator, because she deserves something.

DOMINICK: You're an independent, Jesse Ventura. These two parties, they dominate the whole political system. Should there be a third voice at these debates?

VENTURA: I don't support a third party anymore, Pete. I believe the Republicans and Democrats have so corrupted our system that if a third party does rise up in order to compete it likewise will have to be corrupt.

I stand now in a new position. I'm for the abolishment of political parties. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and especially John Adams would agree with me, John Adams stated that the fall of America wouldn't come from an outside source, it would come from within, and he said precisely what it would be, when political parties take over our government. Pete, I think we're already there.

DOMINICK: Jesse Ventura, always honest. Peter Sagal from NPR. Why don't you moderate one of these debates?

SAGAL: I'm waiting for the phone call. I'll say this about Governor Ventura --

VENTURA: You'll never get it.

SAGAL: When you ran for governor of Minnesota it was the debates that propelled you, because you came across as so much more of an interesting person than your two opponents at the time. And I think you tapped into the deep seed hidden urge to be finally, finally be interesting. And that's how you got into office.

VENTURA: Absolutely. SAGAL: I think you should score in debates.

VENTURA: Absolutely, debates won my election, because I was polling 10 percent when the debates start and I finished in a three- way race with 37 percent.

DOMINICK: That's because you're so honest. Guys, thanks for coming on. Watch Jesse Ventura in his new series on Tru TV, and Peter Sagal's "Wait, Wait, Don't tell me." Great to have both of you guys.

DOMINICK: Men in a hole for more than two months, and one man thought twice about coming back up. That's next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step up, step in, it's your land mine capsule.


DOMINICK: You having fun? You want to stay in there for a little while? You're going to have to stay in there for about an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good life.

DOMINICK: This is my wife and my mistress, can you call me miner 21. Ladies I'm sorry it worked out this way. Don't fight over me. Everyone else got a chance.

Now it's time for me to check out the Chilean mine capsule, whatever we're calling, let's see. This is no big deal, plenty of space. I want to get out. Hey, hey, hey you guys.


DOMINICK: Unless you've been living under a rock like these guys, you know all 33 miners have now been rescued after two months underground, 69 days. And that's the subject of our segment "You are Here."

OK, August 5th, the main ramp of the mine collapses. No word if there are any survivors, and 17 days later, the 22nd of August, the probe finds the miners, comes back with a note saying, "We're OK." Yes, but they were eating tuna and mackerel only once every 48 hours. I don't know if I could take that above ground.

Four day after that, we get a video of the miners and they actually look pretty good. I think that guy is smiling. August 31st, a few days after that, work on three rescue tunnels begin. They're called a, b and c. Not one, two, and three, because the alphabet lobby always wins.

And last week, tunnel b reaches the miners, which brings us to this week. All 33 miners were above ground safe and sound except for maybe miner 21 who apparently his mistress was there instead of his wife. I'm thinking he was probably hoping the capsule grows back down.

Late night comediennes were on fire this week. Which politicians got roasted the hardest? We'll tell you who next.


DOMINICK: Each week people do great things. Sometimes it makes the news, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, here's a look at four people this week who are much better than me.

This is Aisha, an Afghan woman whose nose was cut off by her husband under the Taliban's rule. She was left for dead and managed to make it to an American military camp who rescued here. Aisha, you are much better than me.

This is not a person, it's a dog, and she's way better than me. A four-year-old Labrador retriever. Once again the dog helped bring 12 people to safety with the LAPD and Haiti. Pearl, you are way better than me.

This is Chance Anthony, a one-handed high school football player. This week he finished up the last season of high school football, the third year he's been a starter. I didn't even start my senior year of lacrosse, but that's because the coach started his son over me. Chance Anthony, you're better than me.

You know this guy, Pat Tillman, one of the greatest Americans ever. He's had a new completely built bridge over the Hoover Dam named after him this week. This morning I actually scratched my initials in Wolf Blitzer's locker. Fallen hero, football star, fantastically good looking -- Pat Tillman you are way better than all of us.

Al right, well, you've heard the expression any publicity is good publicity. Well, not if you're running for office. Each week we highlight the harshest political commentary from the world of comedic television. We call it "Roasted."

And nobody seems to have been roasted harder this week than New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Comments he made on the campaign trail regarding his views on homosexuality were front page news all over the country this week. Paladino apologized, but my fellow comediennes are not letting him off the hook.


PALADINO: I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": So that's Carl Paladino making the case to orthodox religious folk that gay people will brainwash their children into dressing an acting in an unconventional manner. (LAUGHTER)

Gay people.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": I did not see Eric Cantor condemning Carl Paladino when he mass e-mailed a bestiality video.


Of course, the bestiality video wasn't bad for children because it was a woman and a male horse, nothing gay.



My old boss, Steven Colbert. Carl Paladino trails Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo by double digits in the most recent poll of New York voters. And all that attention from late night comedians, it's not helping him.

Thanks for watching "What the Week?" Remember, stay engaged, think for yourself, and have a great weekend. We'll see you here next week.