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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Changing the 14th Amendment?; Primary Results

Aired August 10, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us.

Tonight, you have heard the arguments about illegal immigrants having kids here, but have you heard what some lawmakers are now claiming, that immigrants are coming here, having babies, then raising them to be terrorists overseas, so 20 years from now, they can come back here legally and attack us? You will hear two lawmakers lay out the conspiracy theory tonight.

Our question, where is the proof? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight: a primary showdown, late results from crucial races across the country, including Connecticut, where you just heard Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment is believed to be in the lead, wants a shot at the senator's belt -- what these races tell us about what may happen in the long-term.

And later, "Crime & Punishment" -- the latest on the JetBlue flight attendant who apparently had enough. He's out of jail tonight and being called by some as a folk hero. We will joining by one of the passengers who saw and heard it all.

We begin, though, "Keeping Them Honest" on one of the oddest arguments being made in the battle over illegal immigration right now and the effort to rewrite the 14th Amendment.

Several Texas lawmakers are claiming that illegal immigrants are having babies here, so they can return to their homes, raise those babies as terrorists, and then, 20 years from now, send them back here to attack us. You will hear from one of those lawmakers in a moment, but, first, how we got to this strange place.

It all began when some Republicans began suggesting the 14th Amendment, which automatically grants citizenship to any baby born in the U.S., should be changed.

Here's what Senator Lindsey Graham said.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child's automatically not a citizen.

They come here to drop a child. It's called "drop and leave." To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child's automatically an American citizen. That shouldn't be the case. That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.


COOPER: Well, the question is, how many illegal immigrants actually come here pregnant or with the intention of getting pregnant? And there are no accurate figures.

PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking organization, studied the is, however, and concluded that data does not support Senator Graham's claims. Those were their words.

Now, plenty of illegal immigrants do have kids here. There's no doubt about that. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 47 percent of illegal immigrant households are couples with kids -- 3.8 million illegal immigrants have at least one child who is an American citizen.

In Texas alone, according to "The Dallas Morning News," an estimated 60,000 kids are born each year to non-citizen parents. But most of these people appear to be here for work and hope to remain here. So, who is, in the words of Senator Graham, dropping and leaving? Well, it turns out people who come here on tourist visas, wealthy couples from places like India, Turkey, Pakistan, China.

Some come for better medical care, but plenty also want their kids to be able to get a U.S. passport. "The Washington Post" recently reported on a Shanghai company that sells travel packages to California for pregnant women. And the cost of that is $15,000.

According to ABC News, this Turkish-owned hotel right here in New York offers similar deals. Now, you can argue that this is a problem, that it's gaming the system. And you can make certainly the case that 3.8 million children of illegal immigrants are a burden on all of us and on our system. But those are two separate issues, both demonstrably real.

However, the argument that so far no one has really offered any proof about is the one put forward first by Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas. He says some women are coming here to have basically terror babies.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system.

And it appeared they would have young women who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.

And then, one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they could be sent in to help destroy our way of life, because they figured out how stupid we are being in this country.


COOPER: Well, that was Congressman Gohmert on the House floor June 24, saying a retired FBI agent told him this, no evidence, no actual proof offered.

Just a few days later, however, his story seems to have changed on FOX Business Network. Instead of an ex-FBI agent tipping him off, it was a terrorist's grandmother.


GOHMERT: It first came to my attention. Some of us were traveling to the Middle East last August, a year ago. And a lady on the plane was telling one of our group that they were about to have their second granddaughter. Her husband was with Hamas. Her grand -- I'm sorry -- her son-in-law was with Hamas -- and that they were going to do with the second as they did with the first grandchild. Daughter is going to come to America right before it's born on a tourist visa, have the baby.

They just like the option of having American citizens in the family.

Hamas, we recognize as terrorists. They're coming over -- oh, and she added, as a real kicker: And you know what the best part of it is? We don't have to pay anything for the baby to be born.


COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," we tried to contact Congressman Gohmert's office to clear up where in fact he got the notion of terror cells getting women to have babies here, so they can grow up to be terrorists and come back here.

We got no answer at either his Washington office or the one in his district. We welcome any clarification from the congressman.

We also reached out to the FBI. The bureau told us they did not have anyone immediately available to comment.

As for the theory, is turns out that Louie Gohmert is not the only Texas Republican lawmaker who believes this.

I spoke earlier with Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle and was also joined by a Texas Democratic representative, Rafael Anchia.


COOPER: Representative Riddle, you told my producer that pregnant women are coming here as tourists, having babies, and then going back home -- quote -- "with the nefarious purpose of turning them into little terrorists, who will then come back to the U.S. and do us harm." You said it's part of an organized terrorist element and could cost us lives. Where did you hear that?

DEBBIE RIDDLE (R), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: That is information that is coming to my office from former FBI officials.

COOPER: What former FBI officials -- I mean, what evidence is there of some sort of long-term plot to have American babies born here and then become terrorists -- raised as terrorists overseas and then come back here?

RIDDLE: Well, at this point, I don't have the hard evidence right here in front of me.

However, this is something that is being talked about by various members of Congress. This is being looked into. This is an issue with not only folks coming across our southern border, with what is called anchor babies, and coming over for the entitlement programs and for that sort of thing, but I think that this is a lot more sinister issue.

All of these issues, we need to look at, because this is a critical, critical issue for all of the American -- American public.

COOPER: But you have no actual evidence?

RIDDLE: Other than that coming from former FBI folks.

COOPER: Can you tell us who these former FBI folks are, and what evidence they have or what evidence they have shown you?

RIDDLE: At this point, I'm not going to reveal that.

COOPER: I mean, if this is a real threat to the security of the United States, why wouldn't current FBI people be worried about it as well? I mean, why wouldn't this actually be...

RIDDLE: You know what? That's a really good question, because right now we have serious current threat that the government seems to be ignoring, and ignoring on our southern border. Quite honestly...


COOPER: But -- but they haven't told you any actual evidence, right? So, some former FBI -- you say some former FBI agents have talked to your office. Have they given your office actual facts or proof?

RIDDLE: That information, we are still gathering.

But the point that I think you are trying to make is about folks coming over here, having their babies when they are not here legally, or they might have overstayed their visa, whether they are coming from south of the border or whether they're coming from Middle Eastern countries.

We must protect and make sure the safety and security of the people of Texas and the folks of this country is secure. That's the number-one job of every elected official. And, quite frankly, it is altogether possible to make a dirty bomb, stick it in a suitcase, walk it across our southern border, and take it to downtown Houston or any other city, and blow it up, and kill a million or more folks.

Yet, why isn't the government taking that seriously? So, you're questioning me on details of this. And that's -- those -- they're fair questions. And we can deal with that now or we can deal with it at a later time. But that issue with dirty bombs that can be walked across our porous border that our president refuses to protect and secure...


RIDDLE: ... could -- could endanger people today.

COOPER: Right. Well, I mean, border security is certainly...

RIDDLE: That's the question.

COOPER: Border security is certainly an issue, and it's a good topic. It's not the topic, though -- I mean, you have made statements about these basically terror babies that are being raised overseas to be brought back here. I'm just asking for proof. You say you're still gathering it from unnamed former FBI people.

RIDDLE: Well, actually, I -- when your folks called me in the preliminary, that was part of the conversation. They did not tell me that you were going to grill me for this specific information that I was not ready to give to you tonight. They did not tell me that, sir.


Well, if you do have follow-up information, we would love to get it.


COOPER: And we will continue to follow up with her office.

We're going to have more of the conversation ahead, including we will talk to the Democrat representative, Rafael Anchia, for his response.

What do you think? Join the live chat right now at

Also tonight, "Up Close": Do your kids see race? Our pilot study on the subject surprised a lot of parents, but we wondered, what happens after parents learn that their kids, young kids, already can see race and actually make judgments about which skin colors, in their eyes, is better?

We're going to bring you not only the eye-opening study, which we have aired before, but we're going to show you how parents are acting on what they learned about their kids. And later: His tarmac meltdown landed him in jail, probably cost him his job, definitely made him famous. Tonight, he's out of jail -- new details emerging about the fleeing flight attendant, the pressure that was growing in his life, and what happened on that plane. We will talk to a passenger on the flight.


COOPER: We're talking about so-called anchor babies and the allegation that terrorists are sending pregnant women to this country to have children who become American citizens, who then go home to be raised as terrorists, and are later, 20 years or so, sent back here to blow things up.

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert apparently believes it. So does Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle. We were talking to her, asking for proof. And her Democratic counterpart was also there, Rafael Anchia.

She laid out her case at length before the break. More from her in a moment.

First, though, here's what Mr. -- Representative Anchia, the Democrat, had to say about the whole conspiracy theory.


COOPER: Representative Anchia, I mean, there are certainly wealthy women coming to the U.S. from other countries to have babies. This is known. Whether they are coming here in some cases for better health care may be true, but they're also -- some are clearly coming here to have babies who are U.S. citizens.

Are you concerned about this as a national security issue? Do you believe they are having future terrorist babies?

RAFAEL ANCHIA (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, let's deal with the myth of anchor babies. And that is, immigrants are coming here for the sole purpose of having babies and then somehow they're going to be involved in a nefarious plot to harm Americans.

For that to rise to some sort of national security concern is -- is really unsubstantiated. The 9/11 bombers were all here legally. The Times Square bomber was a naturalized citizen, was not an anchor baby. The person who tried to blow up Fountain Place in Dallas, which is my home, was here legally as well.

RIDDLE: Anderson, Anderson, I'm going to have to interrupt here. Anderson...


COOPER: Wait. Wait. He didn't interrupt you. Just let him finish. Then I will let you respond.

ANCHIA: Thank you, Anderson. The broader issue is, you know, why are we having a discussion about -- quote, unquote -- "anchor babies." If a person has a child here, that child cannot petition for their parents or a sibling to be here in the United States for a period of 10 years. And that petition can only begin after they are 21 years old.

So, the fact -- for people to suggest that people are coming here and having babies as a way to anchor themselves on an undocumented basis in this country is just not correct. The law doesn't bear that out. Just because you have a child here doesn't mean that you can't be deported tomorrow. It doesn't mean that you get any special preference with respect to your immigration status.

The fact is that nobody can -- that a child who is born here cannot petition on behalf of their parents unless they have left the country for 10 years.

COOPER: Representative Riddle...

ANCHIA: And even in that case -- yes.

COOPER: ... what about that?

RIDDLE: Anderson -- Anderson...

COOPER: I mean, it's estimated, in Texas, about 60,000 babies are born every year to illegal immigrants...

RIDDLE: Anderson, absolutely.

COOPER: ... according to most studies.

Do you have any sense, though, how many of those people actually came here to have those babies? It seems like, from studies I have seen, the majority of them are just people who are here working and have had babies. Do you think -- do you have a number of how many actually you think are coming here in Texas specifically to have babies?

RIDDLE: I'm going to have to take -- I'm going to have to slight take exception to what my colleague, Representative Anchia, had to say: the myth of an anchor baby.

There's no myth to it. The fact is, it's documented. It's common knowledge here in Texas.


COOPER: Right. But do you have a sense of, say, the 60,000?

RIDDLE: It's common knowledge that over 81 percent of the babies that are born at LBJ Hospital right here in Houston are born of women who are not here legally.

It is well known that women come over here across the border in order to have the babies here, because, once they get here, and once that little American citizen is born and -- and becomes an anchor baby. And, look, I'm a grandmother of 10. I love children. But the fact is, this is breaking the back of the taxpayers of Texas and the United States.


RIDDLE: It's taking down our health care, our education, and it is a huge, huge burden.

COOPER: Representative, let me just ask you...

RIDDLE: But, yes, they are coming across to have the children for -- for the entitlement programs, for the health and the education and everything else that goes with it.

COOPER: Representative Riddle...

RIDDLE: Anyone that denies that isn't going -- isn't understanding the truth.

COOPER: But my question is, do you have a sense, out of the 60,000 estimated children born every year in Texas, in your state, to illegal immigrants, how many are actually here for that purpose, and how many just are -- are -- their parents are here working, and they have a baby, or they have come because they want better health care in order to have the baby?

RIDDLE: If they are over here illegally, they are not here legally. If they have -- if they are over here illegally, whether they're working or not, and they have a baby, then that would come under the term of anchor baby...

And that he is what we're taking about.

ANCHIA: Anderson, if I can just jump in, if I can just jump in on that...

RIDDLE: ... that is breaking the back of the taxpayers.

COOPER: OK, Representative, go ahead, Anchia.

ANCHIA: Yes. Yes. Thank you, Anderson.

The reality is that an anchor baby, according to the terms that the representative, Representative Riddle, would use, is a baby that -- that a mother has here in the United States, if they are undocumented, in order to somehow anchor that undocumented family in the state.

And current federal law does not permit that. It is -- it just does not happen under U.S. law.

COOPER: You're not denying the point that some people do come here because they want their child to be a U.S. citizen?

ANCHIA: Undoubtedly, that happens. But I do not think it happens in broad enough numbers, in big enough numbers to change the Constitution of the United States of the -- of America.

COOPER: Representative Riddle, let me ask you about that. I mean, how much of this is just about -- about politics, about wanting to be seen to be doing something?

The attorney general of Texas, a Republican, advised the legislature in Texas back in 2007 that immigration is largely the purview of the federal government and -- and that, basically, as a result, a bunch of immigration bills in Texas were left to die in committee, because the chairman at the time, also a Republican, said that the state would be tied up defending against lawsuits that they probably wouldn't win.

RIDDLE: Quite honestly, it has now gotten to the point of border security. This is about security.

Our border has got to get secure. The people are no longer asking to secure the border.

COOPER: Right.

RIDDLE: They are demanding it. The emperor has no clothes, and I'm afraid the emperor who has no clothes is not listening.

The people of Texas are demanding that our border be secure. That is the bottom line.

COOPER: Immigration officers are permitted to turn away pregnant women at the border if they suspect them of coming here just to have a baby. Do you think that is enough, or would you support a blanket ban on pregnant tourists coming to the United States?

RIDDLE: No. I think that what we need to do is -- is basically what every other country does. There is not another country in the world where you or Representative Anchia or anyone else can go and be there illegally, and we need to secure the border...

COOPER: That's actually not true.

RIDDLE: ... so that -- so that we know...

ANCHIA: That's totally not true.

RIDDLE: Let me finish. Let me finish.

COOPER: Right.


RIDDLE: We need to secure the border, so that we know who is coming across...

COOPER: Right.

RIDDLE: ... so that those that -- so that they can have a work visa. COOPER: OK, Representative Anchia, your comment, and then we have got to go.

ANCHIA: What Representative Riddle and others in her party are trying to do are demagogue on this immigration issue for no -- for, I would say, less-than-honorable purposes about getting votes in November.

And I think the short-term wedge is going to bite them in the behind in the end.

COOPER: I appreciate both of your perspectives.

RIDDLE: And I think opening the borders and letting them through, as he is suggesting, is also political on his part.

COOPER: Representative Debbie Riddle, I appreciate your time, and Representative Rafael Anchia.

Thank you both very much.

RIDDLE: Thank you.

ANCHIA: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, let us know again what you think at The live chat is up and running.

Up next: the primaries, starting with late primary results, including former WWE executive Linda McMahon's race to become senator from Connecticut. She is giving a victory speech. We will -- as soon as we get -- get her comments, we will bring them to you live.

Also, facing ethics charges and pressure to resign, Congressman Charlie Rangel takes to the floor.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Hey, if I was you, I may want me to go away, too. I am not going away. I am here.

And I do recognize that...





LINDA MCMAHON (R), CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: And I have said since the day we started this campaign that the support of the voters of Connecticut isn't bestowed by the establishment or the pundits or the media. It isn't a birthright. It can't be bought. It needs to be earned.

And, tonight, I'm humbled to have earned your support. I am...



MCMAHON: And I am honored to be your Republican nominee for the United States Senate from Connecticut!



COOPER: May not be bought, but money certainly helps. She spent some $22 million apparently of her own money on this. Listening there to Linda McMahon, former WWE executive, projected winner of the Republican senatorial primary, one of four key primary battles unfolding right now. We're closely watching them, as the outcomes could say a lot about the mood of the country in midterm elections.

Polls have now closed in Georgia, Connecticut, Colorado, Minnesota. Right now, as we mentioned, in the Connecticut GOP Senate primary, the AP tonight projects that Linda McMahon is the winner, defeating former Congressman Rob Simmons, with 58 percent of the vote in.

Joining me now is senior political another David Gergen, political contributors Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos.

Alex, what about this race? I mean, Linda McMahon from World Wrestling Entertainment, $22 million, what do you make of the race? What does it tell us?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think a couple of things. Money can buy your love.


CASTELLANOS: And I think voters in Connecticut feel that the authenticity and sincerity of championship prepares you for politics.


CASTELLANOS: So, we have learned that tonight.

No, this is the year of the outsider. And she was attacked for why she's -- she's part of a business that's as popular as NASCAR with the American middle class. And it turns out that's a good thing, not a bad thing, this year. If you're an outsider, if you're not part of the Washington establishment, you've got a leg up. And she goes against Blumenthal, who is an insider. He's favored. She has a shot.

COOPER: Paul, you think she has a shot also?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: She does have a shot. You know, a fool and her money can go very far apparently this year in an election.

But I think the problem that she's got is, of course, Dick Blumenthal has the problem -- Alex is right -- he's been largely a career politician. He's attorney general of the state, a pretty popular one at that. But she's got her record in I guess it's business.

WWE is -- you know, it's gratuitous violence. It's explicitly sexual. There's a bad side, too. But...


BEGALA: ... he's going to put -- I think Blumenthal has a real history of going after big corporations, drug companies and others.

And I think he's going to be very comfortable in a populist campaign, an outsider-type campaign, attacking this woman. Where did she get $22 million to run campaign ads, when she didn't even provide health care to these wrestlers who were beating each others' brains in?

COOPER: David Gergen, let's look at Colorado. In the primary, it was Clinton vs. Obama, each man backing -- each person backing a different candidate. Are you surprised it's been this close?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I was surprised that it was as close as it was in the polls, but I think we have a pretty clear winner, don't we now, in Michael Bennet? That's what is being projected elsewhere.

And that would suggest actually -- I thought tonight was a night that insiders were being challenged, but they did pretty well. Michael Bennet was certainly more the insider in Colorado.

And in Connecticut, I agree that Linda McMahon has a shot. She's feisty. She may actually pull it off. But, right now, Dick Blumenthal, the insider, certainly has the edge. And down in Georgia, Nathan Deal appears to -- well, he's -- he's running slightly ahead. He's holding his lead. He's more the insider in the race on the Republican side for governor.

So, tonight looks like to me, contrary to a lot of what we have seen, the insiders are doing pretty well.

COOPER: Alex, how do you see the Tea Party doing in all these races?

CASTELLANOS: Well, in Nevada, there's a problem for Republicans. That's a state that Harry Reid was thought to be a sure pickup for Republicans, and now it looks like is leaning for Harry Reid because the Tea Party candidate, she is not the...

COOPER: Sharron Angle.

CASTELLANOS: Sharron Angle is not the, I think, prototypical candidate Republicans would like to see from that state. However, Rand Paul in Kentucky is -- seems to be holding up his lead there eight or nine points. And, most importantly, the same intensity that the Tea Party is embracing around the country, the anti-Washington sentiment, that those people can say anything, do anything, spend anything, and we have got to stop them, that is boosting Republican intensity.

Right now, if you look at -- in swing states, if you look at Obama voters from last time, only 64 percent of them say they're -- they are going to vote for sure. When you look at McCain voters in those swing states, over 80 percent of them say they are going to vote for sure.

So, that Tea Party intensity I think is going to make the difference and make this a big Republican year.

COOPER: Paul, let's talk about Georgia. A lot of the big 2012 names took sides in the Republican governor's race there. So, there was Sarah Palin, Romney on one side, Huckabee, Gingrich on the other side.

Although it's still too close to call, how much of a difference do you think Sarah Palin made, frankly, in this race?

BEGALA: Well, I think she made an enormous difference, and, honestly, on the level. I would like to tease her, but she should be congratulated. I don't think Karen Handel would be in a neck-and-neck race with a Virginia congressman like Nathan Deal if it hadn't been for Governor Palin.

Mitt Romney also weighed in on the Handel's side. Nathan Deal then trotted out Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. So, he had his stars. What is odd about that race to me -- and I think Alex is largely right -- the energy is from the Tea Party movement.

But, in this race, it didn't seem to be Tea Party activism, which is much more secular and focused on spending. The Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia focused pretty bitterly on social issues, once again abortion and gay rights.

I don't think that's helpful to the Republicans. If the energy is coming from the secular right, all of a sudden in Georgia, we're back to the future. They're all running out of the old fellow Georgia Ralph Reed Christian Coalition playbook.

CASTELLANOS: The smartest thing I think that has happened politically all year is Sarah Palin starting the Republican feminist movement.


CASTELLANOS: She's going around to Republican women, saying, you know, you could be the first generation of moms who leaves their children economically less advantaged than the previous generation. You don't want to do that. If she sticks to the economic message, she could be a very powerful force in November and beyond. If she veers off into these social issues, I think, like in Georgia, I think it's going to be counterproductive.

COOPER: David Gergen, what do you see her role as?

GERGEN: I think her role as an endorser has been important. Alex is right about that. She's, I think, endorsed some six candidates in the primaries for governor. Four of them have won. So she's had a pretty good track record. Certainly in South Carolina, she was an important force there. She's not winning everywhere, but I do think that -- I don't think she's running for president. I do think her voices, her endorsement is going to be very important for whoever does run the Republican nomination.

COOPER: I'll just point out again -- I'm sorry, you were...

CASTELLANOS: I was saying, she can be the power behind a thousand thrones or sit on one. Maybe I think David is right. It would be much more powerful to have your hand in a lot of -- a lot of baskets.

COOPER: And much more lucrative, yes?


COOPER: To stay out there. No doubt about that.

Alex Castellanos, appreciate it. David Gergen, Paul Begala, thanks very much.

We're learning new details tonight about the plane crash that took the life of former Alaska senator, Ted Stevens. Joe Johns has the latest on that in our "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Stevens was one of at least five people killed when the private plane went down in southern Alaska late last night. Officials said there were nine people aboard the small plane when it crashed near Dillingham. Four people survived, including Sean O'Keefe, the former head of NASA.

Stevens is being remembered in his home state and in Washington, D.C., as a World War II veteran and a fierce champion for Alaska. He was 86 years old.

Four U.S. senators want to know why the Libyan terrorist who bombed Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 was released from prison. The lawmakers are demanding Scotland release the medical records of the Lockerbie bomber, who was said to be suffering from prostate cancer when he was set free last year.

Officials in Scotland say the doctors who assessed his condition had no part in the decision to release him.

And in China, what some are calling a miracle. A man was rescued from the rubble of a landslide that killed more than 700 people. The survivor was trapped for nearly three days. Crews continue to search for other signs of life. More than 1,000 people still missing. Pictures reminiscent of Haiti just a few months ago.

COOPER: Certainly so. Joe, thanks.

Still ahead, up close, how kids today see race and what they say about skin color. The candid answers are going to surprise you. We'll also show you what our pilot study found and how it's inspired several families to actually change the way they talk to their kids, very little kids about race.

And later, the story everyone has talked about, the JetBlue flight attendant who's become a sort of folk hero to many. He's out of jail tonight. We'll talk to a passenger who was on the flight when he allegedly, well, just had enough and popped the emergency slide, grabbed some beers, and just took off.


COOPER: Up close tonight, a follow-up on a report we first brought to you a few months ago about racial bias in very young kids. Now, I know a lot of us out there, a lot of parents like to say, "Well, look, my child doesn't see race. I don't see race. Everybody is the same." And that certainly sounds good, but is it really true?

I want to show you something. Take a look at the images behind me. Which of these is the dumb child? Which of these is the ugly child? Which of these is the smart child? Now, I know the questions are unfair and they're uncomfortable. And you probably say, "Well, look, I can't answer that question. I mean, the images are all identical other than the skin color."

What's interesting, if you show these pictures to kids, very young kids and you ask them those same questions, they answer and they answer quickly. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Why is she the dumb child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she has black skin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the ugly child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the ugly child?


COOPER: Well, those kids were part of a pilot study conducted at our request by a team of seasoned researchers. They tested more than 130 kids, African-American and white, half in the north, half in the south.

And what we found is the white kids who were tested, as a whole, responded with a high rate of what researchers called white bias, which is really identifying their own skin with positive qualities and black skin with negative qualities.

That's not all. We also found that African-American kids have a bias towards white, though less so than white kids. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good-looking child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is she the good-looking child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she is light skinned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why is she the dumb child?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's the darkest.


COOPER: The idea behind the pilot study was to see how far we've come since the very famous doll study tests conducted in 1940s by two psychologists, Kenneth and Mamie Clark. Their pioneering research revealed the effects of school segregation and discrimination.

In the Clarks' original doll test, African-American kids overwhelmingly choose white over black, and our pilot study suggests they've come a long way. But clearly, 60 years after desegregation, there's still a lot of work to be done.

What's been really amazing, however, about the story is what's happened since the researchers we worked with completed the testing. We sat with some of the children's parents as they watched their kids' answers on videotape. And as you can imagine, it was very upsetting for many of the parents, including one mom named Laura whose young son showed a high rate of what the researchers call white bias.

Back in May, she called his answers shocking, evidence that she says she needed to do more to talk to him about race and color. We caught up with Laura and Andrew recently to see what, if anything, has changed for them. Here's an up-close look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to meet you.

COOPER (voice-over): This is how we first met 5-year-old Andrew.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the dumb child?

ANDREW, PARTICIPANT IN STUDY: Because he's really black.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the nice child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the nice child?

ANDREW: Because he's the lightest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the bad child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the bad child?

ANDREW: Because he's really dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the ugly child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the ugly child?

ANDREW: Because he's -- he's dark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good-looking child.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he the good-looking child?

ANDREW: Because he's the lightest.

COOPER: Andrew overwhelmingly identified his own skin with positive attributes and black skin with negative attributes, a high rate of what researchers call white bias.

His mother, Laura, was shocked when we showed her his answers. She as part of a panel of parents whose kids participated in the test.

(on camera) I saw you shaking your head. LAURA, ANDREW'S MOM: It's disappointing. I should be disappointed. I mean, it makes me think I need to be doing a better job at home. I need to teach him, you know -- it's really upsetting.

I've spent 15 years as a teacher trying to teach first graders about all different societies and cultures and races, and then here's my own child.

His finger went so quick to the white side. It's fascinating. So I just -- we have to -- I want to do more, talk about it more openly, definitely.

You want me to spin you around?

COOPER: We met up with Laura and Andrew today.

LAURA: Hold on tight.

COOPER: She says seeing her son's answers was a wake-up call. She realized her ideas on race are already being formed.

LAURA: I want to try to demystify these stereotypes. They create them so young, and to me it was just so eye opening. It was wow, he's already -- if he's not talking about it, it's already going on in his head.

COOPER: Like an estimated 75 percent of white families, Laura never got specific about race. The doll test changed that.

LAURA: I've never said, "Black people are bad," but I've never said, "Black skin is OK. Black skin is great." I've always said it's OK to be different, but I just really need to be more open and upfront about it and attack it head on.

COOPER: Attacking it head on for Laura means, instead of glossing over differences, today she looks for reasons to point them out and celebrate them, both with Andrew and her 3-year-old, Eleanor.

LAURA: What color is her skin, Eleanor?


LAURA: Black. Is it OK to be black?


LAURA: Yes. It's beautiful.

COOPER: Before the doll test, Laura thought age 5 was far too young to talk about race. Now she feels, at age 3, she's already missed opportunities with her daughter, who's already showing signs that worry her.

LAURA: I was like, "Look, Eleanor," you know, "these three women are black. And they're doing ballet."

And she's like, "No, just this one."

We already had three.

She has already sort of got some frequency (ph) expressions already, so just as simple as pointing it out, I think, is a good -- a good start for sure.

Here it comes.

COOPER: While a tough thing to go through, she says her involvement in the doll test started conversations on race with family, friends, even colleagues.

LAURA: You've got to talk about it. It will be uncomfortable for people, but that's where the real learning takes place, in the discomfort of it all.

COOPER: And she'll continue to fight all stereotypes.

LAURA: I could even be president. Do you want to be president one day, Eleanor?


COOPER: One conversation at a time.


COOPER: Well, tomorrow on 360, we'll revisit another family who's making changes in the way they talk about race. I first talked 5-year-old Brielle (ph) after she took the doll test. Here's what she told me about dark skin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don't like the way brown looks, because the way brown looks is really nasty for some reason. But I don't know what reason. That's all.


COOPER: As you might imagine, Brielle's (ph) answers stunned her parents. For them, like for Laura, what we just saw was a wake-up call. We're going to show you the changes they say they've made as a result, tomorrow on 360.

Next on the program tonight, new details on that flight attendant's meltdown. We're getting them from an eyewitness who was on the plane when the crew member, well, had enough. What she saw and heard in "Crime & Punishment" tonight.

Also, called the McNugget melee. Have you seen this video? A drive-through customer at a McDonald's starts throwing punches, apparently because she couldn't get some McNuggets. It's all on tape. We'll show it to you in tonight's "Shot."


COOPER: All right. In tonight's "Crime & Punishment," the JetBlue flight attendant accused of cursing at a passenger and grabbing some beer, then -- well, actually cursing the whole plane, grabbing a beer, and then sliding down the escape shoot at New York's Kennedy Airport yesterday.

Today he's locked up in jail. Tonight, just a short time ago, Steven Slater was freed on bail. Here he is, moments after getting out, talked to him there on the cell phone. We were trying to reach him tonight. So Steven, if you're listening or watching, give us a call. We'd love to hear from you.

Well, he may be enjoying the fame or confused by it all. He has tens of thousands of followers right now on several Facebook pages. The charge against him could lead to some prison time if convicted for criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.

We all, of course, want to know exactly what happened inside the cabin yesterday and inside his head that sent Slater over the edge. Apparently, Heather Robinson, well, she was there. She was a passenger, sitting not too far from Slater when he kind of had his melt-down. She's a former senior writer for the New York Daily News and a contributor to the Huffington Post. Heather Robinson joins me now. Thanks very much for being with us.


COOPER: OK. I've heard this story a million times, and I've read everything about it. Just tell me in your own words what you heard and saw.

ROBINSON: Well, truthfully, it was a pretty peaceful flight until the end of the flight when Mr. Slater let loose over the P.A. And he just started cursing the passengers: "F you. I'm done with you." He said something about 20-some years of this. And "I'm done." And for the "F F-word who said M-F, well F you."

COOPER: Like, at that volume. He was yelling?

ROBINSON: Yes. He was shouting and, you know, it was very funny, I felt, and there was some sort of college-age people near me who were laughing.

COOPER: Uh-huh.

ROBINSON: And there was a lady, a Catholic woman who had been praying on her rosary for most of the flight because she was a nervous flier.

COOPER: OH, my goodness.

ROBINSON: She turned around and looked at me. I had to reassure her...

COOPER: Right.

ROBINSON: ... the turbulence was normal and the sound of the wheels dropping was normal. She looked at me and...

COOPER: Did you tell her this was normal?

ROBINSON: I said this was not normal.

COOPER: And did you see -- I mean, did you see him when he was doing this or it was just you heard him over the P.A.?

ROBINSON: Just heard him.

COOPER: Had you seen him during the flight at all? I mean, there was nothing remarkable about him?

ROBINSON: Yes, I recognized when I saw his picture this morning in the "New York Post," and he had been one of my flight attendants. And he was certainly nice enough and nothing...

COOPER: And the initial incident, which you did not see, which was apparently somebody getting up to try to get a bag before the plane had stopped. You guys were still taxiing?

ROBINSON: I don't know when that incident occurred.

COOPER: Right.

ROBINSON: But that's what I read, that apparently, it was upon landing.

COOPER: But the yelling over the P.A., you were stopped already?

ROBINSON: We were -- we were in those couple minutes when you're waiting to be released from the plane.

COOPER: Right.

ROBINSON: You know, everybody is sort of standing in the aisle.

COOPER: Oh, so people were standing in the aisle?

ROBINSON: People were standing, sitting, waiting to leave.

COOPER: Right.

ROBINSON: And he just unleashed this rather comical -- personally, I hope we'll see him on "Saturday Night Live."

COOPER: We're going to see this guy a lot of places. I have no doubt of that. But you didn't see the emergency shoot open up?

ROBINSON: I did not. And I didn't even know about that until I saw my newspaper the next morning, as it was a front-page story and he'd made his escape via the... COOPER: I want to read something. You wrote a great piece about from -- you wrote, "I was not insulted by it but amused. I'd rather have a flight attendant relate to me as a human being -- 'F' you all" -- than be on the receiving end of phony, passive aggressive politeness.


COOPER: You say -- I have to say something. It applies a lot. It must have been almost refreshing. I mean, yes, it must have been almost refreshing.

ROBINSON: Very much. Very much. And you know, I was interviewing a flight attendant today. I'm a journalist, as well. And she wanted to be anonymous, but she shared with me that a lot of flight attendants have a fantasy, according to her, of doing this very thing. They talk about how would you quit? Would you throw tomato juice all over a demanding, you know, passenger? Anyway...

COOPER: I feel for flight -- I've got to tell you, I feel so much for flight attendants. The people they have to deal with on any given day. And I mean, flying is a nightmare, and they are up there for, you know, hours and hours and hours. I give them tons of credit.

ROBINSON: A tough job. Definitely.

COOPER: It's a tough job. And what do you think it is that has sparked so much people's -- why do you think this has become the story it's become?

ROBINSON: Well, it doesn't surprise me so much, Anderson. I think a lot of people, anyone who's ever worked a service job can relate to this. That most people are very nice, but there are those people who take advantage, as my -- as the person I interviewed, the flight attendant I interviewed said today.

Some -- occasionally people will take advantage of the fact that you can't say anything back. And I think people -- working people can understand this.

And there was something, I think, kind of freewheeling and spontaneous and funny about this. You know, I write about terrorism and I can tell you, you know, have you been in New York on 9/11? This was not terrorism. This was not scary.

COOPER: Right.

ROBINSON: This was -- you know, it was just -- I mean, maybe because of the slide issue.

COOPER: To me, there's something about the -- obviously, you know, there was security ramifications and it shouldn't be done. But there is something to me, the two details of him grabbing what I believe are two beers and then deciding to eject the emergency chute, and just go down it. I don't know. It makes me laugh. ROBINSON: Yes, yes. And it made me laugh. At the time, I didn't know he was going down the emergency chute, but the rant made me and other people laugh.

COOPER: If only someone had a video camera and was rolling. I mean, I can't believe there's not security camera footage that's been released. Apparently, it's not...

ROBINSON: But maybe it will raise people's consciousness about how to treat each other and service people.

COOPER: Yes. Yes. Or give people an idea how to quit more -- in a more effective way.


COOPER: A more theatrical way.

Heather Robinson, I appreciate you being on. Thanks so much.

ROBINSON: You can read more on Heather's Web site, HeatherRobinson. net.

Up next, from flight rage to anger. Anger over McNuggets. This is actually serious. Someone got punched in this. One woman couldn't get her chicken. She went nuts. It was in, like, the wee hours of the morning after New Year's Day. Her drive-through meltdown caught on tape. It's "The Shot" tonight.

Plus, Levi Johnston may not be joining the Palin family, but he's apparently trying to get into the family business. Running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska? Could this have something to do with his reality show? I think so. We'll see in a moment. We'll be right back.


COOPER: We're following a number of other stories tonight. Joe Johns back with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOHNS: Anderson, New York Congressman Charlie Rangel took to the House floor today to blast the ethics investigation against him. Rangel is facing 13 counts of violating House ethics rules. He's vowing to stay on the job and is challenging House members to take their best shot if they think he should be expelled.


REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: The ethics committee won't even tell me when I'm going to have a hearing. And, hey, people are concerned about me. I'm 80 years old. I don't want to die before the hearing.


JOHNS: Efforts are on hold to finish the relief well to permanently seal the damaged BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico as a potential tropical storm takes aim at the area. The delay could be two or three days.

President Obama has signed a $26 billion bill aimed at helping states avoid laying off teachers and first responders. Republicans are calling it a union giveaway.

And will this one day be Mayor Levi Johnston? The father of Sarah Palin's grandson apparently wants her old job: mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Johnston and his handlers are pitching a new reality show that would be called, "Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor's Office" as he enters the world of politics.

I think we ought to try to get a new name there. I'm not real hot on that one.

COOPER: Yes. I don't think that's going to happen, I don't think. The show or the race. We'll see. Joe, thanks.

Tonight "Shot", proof that Jeff Liu (ph) doesn't have a lock on workplace drama. McNuggets meltdown caught on tape. This could have been serious. It happened at a McDonald's in Ohio earlier this year. Police just released the tape.

According to local reports, a woman lost it when she couldn't get Chicken McNuggets because it was breakfast time and they weren't being served. She gets out of the car, punches the employee at the drive- through window. Look at her. She's completely out of control.

As the tantrum continues, takes several employees to shut and lock the window to keep her away. But that doesn't even make her give up. Before speeding off, she smashes the window with a bottle that she grabs from her car. Police eventually caught up with the woman. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail in order to pay for the broken window.

Wow. Not good.

All right. Up next, the battle -- McNuggets -- I mean, Big Macs. I like McNuggets. They're not that good. The battle on the border of illegal immigration. One extreme theory: that pregnant women are coming here to give birth to future terrorists. Is there any actual proof? We're "Keeping Them Honest."