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Dennis Hastert Goes Before House Ethics Committee; President Bush Stumping in Florida; Iraq Strategy; Skid Row Dumping
Aired October 24, 2006 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And we start this hour with a developing story. The speaker of the House goes before the House ethics panel. Speaker Dennis Hastert is meeting with the panel as part of the investigation into the Mark Foley House payable scandal.
Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel live on Capitol Hill with the very latest -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, that's right, Speaker Hastert may be the last or certainly one of the final key witnesses to come before this House Ethics Committee now three weeks into their investigation. His appearance today was kept under wraps until he arrived just a short time ago. Committee members have spent the last three weeks interviewing over a dozen lawmakers and their aides to find out what they knew about Foley's inappropriate e- mail exchanges with teenage pages and when they knew it. The big question, of course, is whether Republican lawmakers have been involved in any kind of a cover-up.
Earlier today, we heard from one of two top Republicans who say that they told Dennis Hastert about the e-mails and about their -- his questionable behavior last spring. Congressman Tom Reynolds, who you see right there, spent a couple of hours behind closed doors. He is one of two Republicans. The other, of course, being House Majority Leader John Boehner, who testified before the Ethics Committee last week.
Now, Hastert has said that he doesn't remember conversations with those two men, and he says, Don, that he first learned about the inappropriate e-mails last month when the rest of us learned about it when ABC News first broke that story -- Don.
LEMON: You know what, Andrea? Everyone else who has testified, we knew the date, we knew the time. Why was there such -- it seems to be secrecy. I don't want to put words in your mouth -- secrecy around the House speaker.
KOPPEL: Well, in fact, there has been secrecy about -- around just about every single person who testified. The House Ethics Committee has really tried to keep all of its witnesses under wraps, and it's only based on reporting that some of us have been able to do that we've been able to connect the dots and then find out whether or not such and such a person would be testifying.
The first indication we had that Speaker Hastert might be here this week was what he told reporters yesterday. He said that he was going to be coming here this week, and then some of my colleagues saw lots of his security detail outside his office earlier today. But even up until then, Don, no one in the speaker's office wanted to tip their hand. And, you know, it's your best guess as to why they didn't want anybody to know.
LEMON: Yes, and there's a live picture -- if we could get the live picture of that door back, what's behind door number one, or at least what's going on behind that door is what everyone around the country and especially folks in that room want to know about. House Speaker Dennis Hastert testifying right now, at least answering questions from the House Ethics Committee.
Andrea, thank you so much.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, President Bush is on the road two weeks before the midterm elections. He's in Sarasota, Florida, today, stumping for congressional candidate Vern Buchanan. We saw a live picture just a minute ago.
Our CNN's Kathleen Koch is also traveling with Mr. Bush.
Kathleen, why is the president campaigning for this particular candidate?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, he's campaigning for this candidate because Vern Buchanan is in deep trouble. This is a GOP -- GOP seat, has been for the last four years in a largely Republican district. \
It had been a safe seat held by Katherine Harris. She now is in a very tight election for the Senate, but a bitter Republican primary and a voter discontent with, among other things, the war in Iraq has made this now a very, very, very tight race, despite the fact that Buchanan's campaign has spent more than $6 million.
Now, President Bush in his remarks here at this fund-raising event just a few minutes ago, very much did what he normally does at these campaign appearances, criticized Democrats, insisted that if they take control of Congress, they will raise taxes. And he also hinted that they were being a bit overly optimistic about their chances of taking control of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have made a lot of predictions. As a matter of fact, I think they may be measuring the drapes. If their electoral predictions as reliable as their economic predictions, November 7th us going to be a good day for the Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: Now, from here President Bush heads to Boca Raton, Florida, later this evening for a Republican National Committee fund- raising event -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about Iraq. How's it playing into the president's message, if at all?
KOCH: Well, the president, just a few minutes ago, before I came out here, was talking about the war on terror again, what he believes is a very strong suit for himself and for Republicans. But when it comes to Iraq, the president is no longer using those words that we have heard over and over and over again. And that is "stay the course."
The emphasis right now when it comes to his policy in Iraq is "flexible and dynamic." Those are the words the Republicans and the president are opting for now -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: The president talking about Iraq now. We're going to go ahead and listen in, Kathleen.
BUSH: We've got a military that is bold and courageous. We've got one other thing for us.
BUSH: We've got one other thing going for us, too, and that is the great power of liberty. Liberty is a powerful, powerful tool. You see, liberty will yield the peace we want. Free societies will yield the peace.
We're in an ideological struggle between extremists and radicals who hate and between moderate people who simply want to live in peace. It's a struggle between good and decent people and evil killers. It's a struggle that is going to take a while to achieve. But it is an ideological struggle, and you can defeat an ideology of hate with an ideology of hope. And freedom is that ideology of hope.
You know, recently I had an interesting experience. I share this with people all around our country because I want to bring to life that which we are now accomplishing. I went to Elvis's place with the former prime minister of Japan.
PHILLIPS: Well, the president touched just a bit on Iraq there. Now he's actually talking about visiting Elvis's home there in Memphis. I bet that was fun. That's always an interesting adventure.
But nevertheless, he's in Sarasota, Florida, right now, stumping for Vern Buchanan, as we are just 14 days away from elections.
We'll monitor the president's moves throughout the day.
LEMON: The president talking about Iraq. Some of the major players this morning also talked about Iraq. Success is possible in Iraq -- is it? Well, it is according to Washington's point man in Baghdad.
We talked about a timetable. He talked about a timetable of sorts. He and America's top commander both mentioned 12 to 18 months. Both also emphasized it all depends on what happens on the ground. CNN's Michael Ware has more.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a joint press conference by the two most powerful American representatives in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and American commander General George Casey, the U.S. administration has outlined its expectations in a series of new benchmarks that it expects the Iraqi government to meet.
While underscoring the administration's belief that the Iraq mission is not only salvageable but can still succeed, Ambassador Khalilzad nonetheless recognized the many challenges ahead. He outlined a list of benchmarks that the administration is now looking to the Iraqis, in the ambassador's words, to step up and deliver in terms of tackling the militias, engaging with the Sunni insurgency, addressing reforms within the constitution, and the equal distribution of oil wealth around the country.
However, given that the Iraqi partners that Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey repeatedly referred to, the people that they are looking to to help them deliver these benchmarks, have proven themselves either to be weak or actively opposed to U.S. interests. It's unclear just what the Americans intend to do if these demands are not yet, again, having been outlined many times in the past. The only hint from the ambassador was perhaps a sign of a renewed international effort to force the Iraqi government to deliver.
ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMB. TO IRAQ: To broaden international support for stabilizing Iraq, Iraqi leaders and the United Nations have been working on a plan, an international compact with Iraq that will consist of a commitment by Iraq to do what's necessary in terms of continuing the economic reform and policies to put the country on the path to stability and prosperity in exchange for the international community's support.
WARE: While the ambassador did not flesh out the details of this international effort, in one potentially embarrassing moment during his press conference by these two pivotal American representatives here in Iraq, the electricity went out during tough questioning from the floor, throwing the room into darkness and the general and the ambassador silenced over the microphones.
Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.
LEMON: Down and out of luck, out of hope, out of just about everything. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, a dark tour of skid row in Los Angeles and how so many wind up dumped in such a desperate place.
LEMON: You've got to pay attention to this next story. Desperate, destitute and dumped? Los Angeles police say this past weekend they videotaped five ambulances that dropped, discharged patients on skid row. Now comes a criminal probe to get to the bottom of what they call a growing problem.
Captain Andrew Smith of the LAPD joins us with more.
And Captain, I started by saying that some people, they had to watch this. As a police officer, did you even believe this?
CAPT. ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Well, it really is outrageous to see people in terrible medical condition dropped to what Chief Bratton refers to as the "seventh circle of hell." Really, skid row is just a horrible, horrible place for anybody.
LEMON: This is an investigation. And I understand today that you have launched an investigation into this. And in a press conference just a short while ago, I don't know if it was you, but one of the officers was talking about really the oath that medical and rescue workers take to make people better and not necessarily drop them off.
SMITH: Yes, sir. That was Chief Bratton, and he said, you know, the first oath that anyone in the medical profession takes is "do no harm." By taking someone from a medical facility and dropping them against their will into the heart of skid row certainly is not upholding that oath, as far as we're concerned.
LEMON: Now, take us back in time, because I know that you -- I think you spent some time with our Randi Kaye, who did this investigation about a year ago. How did this come to light, and what was used? I understand that you used surveillance for a lot of these things, and that's the evidence that you're going on to at least start this investigation.
SMITH: Well, we do have surveillance cameras set up throughout skid row, but in this particular case, two of my heads-up sergeants, a guy named Kevin Royce (ph) and a guy named Greg McManus (ph), saw this ambulance pulling slowly to the curb and offloading a patient on a gurney into one of the service providers down here.
The service provider said, "Hey, we can't take that guy. We're not equipped to handle the medical condition he has." And my officers kept an eye on it and found out that this same facility was dumping five patients all together, all at the same time, all to the heart of skid row.
LEMON: There are some -- and to play devil's advocate, there are some who might say, you know what? When someone goes into medical care, into a hospital, into any facility, there comes a point where they have to be let go. And just because they don't have a place to go doesn't mean that it's our problem.
But does that mean they should be dumped on skid row?
SMITH: Absolutely not. We are able to take patients like that all the time, and we do down on skid row. The service providers, Union Rescue, L.A. Mission and Volunteers of America do a tremendous job caring for people down there. If this facility would have called and made a couple calls, they might have been able to find a bed. In fact, my officers were able to find a bed for one of these individuals who wanted a placed to stay. The problem is, they didn't call, they didn't make prior arrangements, and these folks are just basically left lying on the curb in the heart of skid row.
LEMON: Reading -- there was an article in the "L.A. Times" this morning, and also the report from Randi Kaye, it appears that skid row might be better equipped to handle these people than a lot of the facilities that they may end up going to.
SMITH: Well, there are some good facilities on skid row, as I mentioned, but it's really -- it's really incumbent upon the medical facility to make those arrangements, not just put a guy in an ambulance, or as we saw a couple of weeks ago from a different hospital, put a guy who can't even walk in a taxi cab and drop him off on the corner of Sixth and San Julian. I mean, that is just unconscionable to me and I think pretty much all your viewers.
LEMON: Well, Captain Smith, what are these people saying? Have you interviewed any of the people that they dropped off? Obviously, you have.
What are they saying to you? Are they telling people they want to be left in these places, or do they have no other alternative? Or are they being, I don't know, for lack of a better term, kidnapped?
SMITH: Well, that's not a bad word to use for one of these individuals. The older Hispanic gentleman, about 62 years old, he lived with his family about eight or 10 miles from here. He said he told the ambulance driver, "Take me to my home. I don't want to be left off here."
He had never been to skid row. He didn't know anything about skid row. He knew taking one look around that that's not a place he wanted to be.
But the ambulance driver said, "No, we're dropping you off here." He said, "Take me to where I can get a bus stop or I can jump on a bus. I'll find my way home." And the guy said -- the ambulance told him, "No, I'm dropping you off here."
And in fact, he told our officers where he lived. We brought him home, and his family was outraged. They didn't even know he was being discharged from the hospital, let alone being taken to skid row, away from his home.
LEMON: Yes. And for someone who -- people who may, you know, not have a place to go, may want to be on the street for whatever reason or another. But someone who doesn't, skid row isn't exactly the place that they -- you want your loved one ending up.
SMITH: I don't -- I think anybody that is listening would recognize that's not a place that anybody really wants to be. LEMON: Captain Smith, what do you do with this? It's not an easy answer. It's very complicated because there are so many facets to this story.
Not everyone -- I mean, to be honest -- wants to be rescued, and I'm sure some of the patients are saying maybe they want to be dropped off there. What do you guys do about that?
SMITH: Well, there's a huge attraction in the skid row area for people that are addicted to heroin and addicted to rock cocaine. As the police department, we're trying to get those drug dealers out of there.
In fact, in the past five weeks, we've arrested 737 drug dealers off the streets of skid row. And those guys are behind bars.
We're doing what we can as a police department to clean up skid row, to make it as safe a place for everybody. But it's really not entirely the police's responsibility. Certainly the greater societal problem of homelessness is not something that the police can cure. Not anything we're trying to cure with arrests.
We need more housing for some of these folks, we need more mental health facilities for some of these folks. And we need to have the tools to get them up off the streets and into a facility, even if maybe at the beginning they're not willing to go.
LEMON: Yes. And Captain Smith, of course your first priority is what you said today, announcing an investigation into -- at least what you call at least five ambulances recently observed dumping patients from hospitals or facilities on to skid row.
Thank you for joining us today in the CNN NEWSROOM.
SMITH: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, the nightmare of the Darfur crisis. The firsthand account of an aide worker who traveled to the heart of the killing and suffering. We'll talk to him.
LEMON: Plus, truth or dare? You know who we're talking about. A Malawian official fires back at the father of the boy Madonna's trying to adopt. The latest twist ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. Make no bones about it. This will be a historic trip.
Lucy, one of the world's most famous fossils, will tour the United States. It's her first trip outside Ethiopia, where she was found in 1974. And she's only been displayed there twice.
Lucy is 3.2 million years old. She's a homonym of one of other relatives, by the way, who had both ape and human features. Her U.S. tour kicks off next September. LEMON: How many years old is she, 3.2 million?
PHILLIPS: That's young. In light years.
LEMON: Yes, we worry about, you know, 40s, 50s -- 50 is the new 30 and all that.
PHILLIPS: There you go.
LEMON: Who cares when you're 3.2 million years old.
Sony is apologizing for the recall of millions of laptop batteries, but is the problem solved? I was going to call it the battery baffoo (ph), some sort of alliteration, but I don't know what to say.
Is it all over, Susan Lisovicz?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I would say yes and no.
LEMON: Well, Americans head to the polls in just two weeks. They'll vote in a year where many candidates are making ethics a big issue.
In a new CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, the Democratic Party has a bit of an edge on that front, but not by much. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed think Democrats have high ethical standards, 46 percent say they don't.
Republicans fare even worse. Forty-six percent say they have high ethical standards, while 52 percent disagree.
Ohio, a key route to President Bush's re-election, two years later a minefield for Republicans.
CNN's Joe Johns charts the changing political landscape.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For years, marketers have come here to Ohio to test new products. Politicians, pollsters and pundits also come here to take the pulse of the nation. And what they've learned, as Halloween looms, is that these are very scary times for Republicans.
Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican congressman, just pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Another GOP representative, Deborah Pryce, who once counted disgraced Congressman Mark Foley as a friend is now in trouble, largely because of that friendship.
GOP Senator Mike DeWine is having an especially tough time. The national party has turned its attention elsewhere, to races it considered more competitive. And there's the governor here, Republican Bob Taft. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor ethics violations. It adds up to something akin to a house of horrors for conservatives.
DAVE ZANOTTI, CEO, AMERICAN POLICY ROUNDTABLE: They're embarrassed about what's happened in the Taft administration and they're stumbling over it. They don't see anything happening on the national or state ticket to sort of cleanse that out and purge that out and move forward.
JOHNS (on camera): Call it the fear factor. Scandal plus the war in Iraq and the administration's handling of it is scaring Republicans to the point that they fear losing control of the House or the Senate. So much so that there's already finger pointing.
(voice-over) Former House majority leader, Dick Armey, is even questioning what once seemed sacred.
DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The religious right has pushed our party very hard in recent years to use the power of big government in a more expansive way to start dictating the terms of morality and righteous behavior in the country.
It is antithetical to the history of our party that we use the power of the government to impose standards of conduct on the individual.
JOHNS: Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, a darling of the right back in the day, sees a failure of leadership.
BOB BARR, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: And the concern that the Republicans seem to have and what they are sort of portraying to the country is a party that cares more about simply staying in office than doing the right thing, the exciting thing for the conservative base that brought them power in the first place.
JOHNS: Still, some Republicans are hoping for a Halloween trick.
CHARLES BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: By rallying our voters to turn out here during the last two weeks of the election, we can win majority control of both houses.
JOHNS: Maybe, or maybe that's false optimism when polls show Democrats, especially in House races, seemingly pulling ahead.
What's clearest right now is that, despite all the obstacles, Republicans still have a tremendous ability to get out their vote. Here in Ohio, for example, while the Democrat, Sherrod Brown, enjoys a big lead in the polls, Republican organizers say they've been working on overdrive to get Republican voters to turn out.
And they're more confident than ever that we'll succeed. So at the epicenter of political pulse taking, Republicans in Ohio believe in their ability to organize the right voters to get you on election day, but they also worry about the defections of so many spooked conservatives, a scary moment in this election season.
Joe Johns, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.
LEMON: And tonight, our CNN special series "Broken Government" continues. This evening CNN's Candy Crowley examines why Democratic candidates have had a hard time getting elected. "Two Left Feet" airs -- it's called "Two Left Feet," that's interesting. It airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and again at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
PHILLIPS: You and I don't have two left feet when we dance though.
Air time at the White House, dozens of radio hosts set up shop in the front yard two weeks ahead of midterm elections. Glenn Beck clips on our microphone ahead from the NEWSROOM.
LEMON: Was a journalist kidnapped? Well that's what appears to have happened to an "Associated Press" photographer, Emilio Morenatti. It happened in Gaza today. Palestinian gunmen grabbed him as he was heading from his apartment to an "A.P." car. Morenatti was shoved into a white Volkswagen and then driven away. There has been no claim of responsibility. The Palestinian prime minister who belongs to the militant Hamas group says the government its is exerting maximum efforts to bring about Morenatti's safe return.
PHILLIPS: Well the human tragedy in Sudan's Darfur region is both staggering and heart-wrenching. In some three years of fighting, more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others struggle to survive in refugee camps. Neighboring Chad faces a spillover in the Darfur violence and a rise in attacks from its own rebels.
Joining us in New York with his take on this, Joseph Aguettant, at the International Red Cross, director of Chad. I know you just got back recently. How long were you there, Joseph?
JOSEPH AGUETTANT, IRC DIRECTOR OF CHAD: I've been there for about a month, but I've been in Darfur in the last two years working inside Sudan. May I just add that I'm from the International Rescue Committee, not the Red Cross.
PHILLIPS: Oh, International Rescue Committee. I think our writer probably got that confused with IRC.
AGUETTANT: That happens all the time.
PHILLIPS: Well, I apologize for that Joseph.
AGUETTANT: No worries.
PHILLIPS: I know you sent us a number of powerful pictures and I think what I wanted to do today, we talked a lot about the politics yesterday. But today I really want to put a face to the genocide that is happening there.
And you sent us a number of these photos. This one in particular. Even with everything going on there and the death and the destruction and the militia that's been taking the lives of these people, you see such a beautiful spirit in many of these faces.
AGUETTANT: That's correct. You know, I was there when these pictures were taken in February 2004 when the International Rescue Community sent its first emergency response team to respond to a humanitarian crisis in eastern Chad with 25,000 people sitting at the border without any assistance basically camping in the trees.
And so, you know, these pictures show the hope that they have, being in Chad, but also the fear that was that they left behind and the terrible attacks that took place in their villages. You have to imagine people waking up at night to the sound of gunfire and aerial bombing, taking their belongings, taking their children, and then, you know, walking for about two, three days, sometimes more to the border to Chad.
And what did they find in Chad? They were hoping to find, of course, water, food, but also, they were looking forward to get security and protection. And what's happening today is that the security and this protection that they deserve and that they need is not being afforded to them. They are insecure at the border at this camp.
You can see some of the pictures that were taken recently. The international rescue community are very concerned about the spillover effect from the Darfur conflict into Chad. We have seen, you know, battles that took place inside Sudan that had consequences in Chad that had, you know, the spillover effects.
PHILLIPS: How do the parents explain what's happening to the children? When you are at these camps and you're surrounded by these families, how do the mothers, the fathers sit down and explain to their kids what's happening?
AGUETTANT: Well, for one, I think their kids have seen what's happened. They were part and parcel of, you know, the flight. And they were attacked, you know as much as the adults. So the kids have seen it. I think, you know, what's really important to mention is that the kids have found some form of hope by just being in the schools at the IRC is running in the camp.
But, again, I think the main message I would like to mention here is that the insecurity is still there on the border. So the International Rescue Community is pushing for a relocation as soon as possible further into Chad, so that these refugees can find the safety they came to Chad for, and protection.
PHILLIPS: And while dealing with that humanitarian crisis and just trying to save lives and feed these kids and keep them from dying, politically, do you get involved at all with regard to pressure on the United States or on President Bashir of Sudan? Do you get a chance to be a part of any efforts to take down the militia? AGUETTANT: Listen, as the country director for the International Rescue Committee in Chad, I'm a humanitarian worker. I work on three major things at the moment. The first is to secure our operations and make sure that our staff are safe and the refugees that we work for are safe. The second one is just relocation. But we said that we would organize in a well-planned manner to move the refugees further into Chad.
And the third is advocacy. What we're trying to do at this stage is bring attention to Chad. You know, a lot of our listeners have read and seen Darfur pictures, and I think a lot of attention is being brought to Darfur at this stage. But Chad is, I think, not to be ignored. Our listeners will probably see very soon, you know, probably they will wake up tomorrow with more pictures of Chad, which is undergoing a number of political turmoils at the moment.
PHILLIPS: Is it hard to get people to care, Joseph? Is that a challenge?
AGUETTANT: It is a challenge. I think people do not necessarily realize what's happening in Darfur and in Chad at the moment.
PHILLIPS: You talk about the need to move the camps further into Chad and away from the border. What prevents you from being able to do that?
AGUETTANT: A number of obstacles. The most non-controversial one is to find water. You know, the refugees are in a desert environment. They need about 360,000 liters of water every day. And so it is a challenge to find water in the desert, and that's what our teams have been doing over a number of months. The second challenge is to get the authorities to accept the relocation and that they would give their green light to a relocation further away from the border to bring the refugees into Chad.
There's a number of things that we are calling of. We are calling for -- I'm sorry. And that is to implement simply the Security Council resolutions that have called for a multidimensional presence of a number of humanitarian agents, of liaison officers, civilian police, military, et cetera, in Chad. So this is a Security Council resolution that's been approved, and there's no reason to wait on deployment in Sudan.
PHILLIPS: Talk about following a number of security -- U.N. Security Council resolutions. There are so many there, and it's so hard to just follow every single one of them when there's so many political roadblocks taking place. I tell you what...
AGUETTANT: That is one of -- you know, that is one that we could implement easily, because the president of Chad, Idriss Deby, has called for a U.N. presence and is not opposed to it. So that is something that, as humanitarians, we would very much call for to reinforce security of the refugees at the border and inside Chad, and the security of our staff.
PHILLIPS: Joseph Aguettant, IRC director of Chad, thanks for your time today.
AGUETTANT: Thank you very much.
LEMON: Let's stay in Africa, but let's talk about Madonna and her adoption drama. There's a new twist. A senior official in Malawi says everyone knew exactly what was going on. He is dismissing new comments from the father of the boy Madonna's trying to adopt. Over the weekend, the man claimed he was misled and signed papers, but he couldn't read. He says he didn't know he was signing away all parental rights. Now, we've been trying to contact Madonna for comment, but she's staying mum, at least until tomorrow, when she appears -- is set to appear via satellite on the Oprah show, actually taped this morning. And Oprah is staying mum as well, at least until the show airs.
Maybe A.J. Hammer and "SHOW BIZ" can give us some answers on that and what else is happening in Hollywood in the world of show business.
A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Yes, Don, that's definitely something we'll be dealing with tonight. Also coming up, a Hollywood power couple getting set to say "I do" in November. And fake TV reporter Borat responds to the controversy his new film is creating in his home country of Kazakhstan. All that's ahead, on the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Well, it's no way to treat a lady. Artist George Condo's portrait of Queen Elizabeth hangs in a British museum, and once you see it, well, you'll understand why it's causing such a controversy. Yikes! The artist himself says his vision of the queen looks like a Cabbage Patch doll. He goes on to say, quote, "It's a nightmare picture of herself in her own head." No comment from Buckingham Palace on whether Her Majesty is amused. It could have been worse, though. The artist wanted to paint the queen as a nude. Sorry about that.
LEMON: Did you have to say that part?
PHILLIPS: It's true. It's true.
LEMON: Now, back in the control room, everybody turn the volume down in here this time? Last time it was so loud -- did you do it? Don't make me pull a Nancy Grace. Somebody move my chair?
PHILLIPS: Go ahead, friend. Take it away, friend.
LEMON: Don't forget -- all right, friend. Don't forget to check your mailbox when you get home. That's because after a year-long engagement and a child together, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are sending out some big news. For all that and much, much more, A.J. Hammer in New York. What's going on there, A.J.?
HAMMER: I don't know if Nancy Grace is going to be invited to this wedding or not.
LEMON: How you doing, friend?
HAMMER: We'll see if you get the invite. Yes, start looking in that mailbox for the invite to the biggest wedding of the year, because it is true. The invitations have been sent out. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, at long last, are going to be tying the knot on November 18th in Italy. The couple are asking that the guests set aside their entire weekend. They want you to have Thursday to Sunday open for all these festivities.
The only inside info we have so far is that Katie's gown was designed by Giorgio Armani, who will also create Tom's wedding wear. And, of course, Don, for Tom and Katie, the baby carriage came before the nuptials, as their daughter Suri was born this past April.
LEMON: Am I supposed to go? Oh, OK.
HAMMER: Sure, you can go.
LEMON: I thought you were going to go to like some sound byte of them something. All right, apparently it's my turn.
HAMMER: It's your turn.
LEMON: And I'm not on the A-list for that wedding, so I have not received my invitation yet. And I'm sure Nancy Grace won't inviting me on her show anytime soon. So I heard last night in Hollywood that the premiere for Borat -- is that -- am I pronouncing it right?
LEMON: Borat. Borat. Roll the R. Roll the R. The benefit of the glorious nation, they call it "Kazakhstan," was quite a spectacle. Was it?
HAMMER: Yes. And I have a sound byte coming for you in just a moment, so stand by.
LEMON: OK, good. I won't go.
HAMMER: It's quite a funny appearance that he made last night. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is the guy who plays Borat. That's his character. He brought along some of his people from Kazakhstan. That included the brave men of their Olympic swim team, their proud prostitutes and many of their citizens. Borat is a fictitious T.V. reporter from Kazakhstan, but he's really upset the nation's real government because of the stereotypes he has portrayed in the film.
So we asked the fake newsman about the controversy. Roll that sound byte.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) "BORAT SAGDIYEU," AS PLAYED BY SACHA BARON COHEN: I would like to make this clear, there have been reports my country upset with me and this movie. These are lies by evil nitwit Uzbekistanis. It is propaganda against my country. Uzbekistan has been taking out adverts saying that in Kazahkstan we treat all women equally and there is religious freedom. These are disgusting provocations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Well, on a more serious note, producer Jay Roach weighed in on Kazakhstan's strong response to Borat and the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY ROACH, PRODUCER: I don't think comedy should always be forced to be polite about everything, And, once in a while to expose hypocrisy, expose racism, expose exaggerated superstition, you have to imitate someone who's that idiotic to carry those points of view, those personal mythologies. So I think people get that. I think that's why it's gotten such an incredible reception almost everywhere it's played.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Listen to the title of this movie, Don, it's called "Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." It's opening November 3rd. I don't know if you've ever seen his character on the HBO show. He's hilarious.
LEMON: I have. And I've also seen the ads. I heard that some of those were in response to the whole movie that was going to come out and the spoof that he was doing.
HAMMER: That is, in fact, true.
LEMON: So you're saying it's true so it must be true.
LEMON: What do you have on tonight?
HAMMER: Coming up tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT", the nanny who's caught right in the middle of one of the explosive divorces going on in Hollywood, which has included sensational charges of cheating and porn. Well, now that nanny, coming to "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" to tell her side of the story. It is the nanny interview you'll see only on T.V.'s most provocative entertainment news show. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" can be found at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on "CNN HEADLINE PRIME", right after your friend, Nancy Grace.
LEMON: When you say cheating and porn, of course a lot of people will be tuning in.
Thank you very much for that, A.J. Hammer.
PHILLIPS: Not me. I have no interest, guys. I'm going to move on right past that.
PHILLIPS: OK. I'll be watching cartoons.
Well, could you be the next supermodel with endless primping, plucking and the right computer program?
Well, you can. An average face can suddenly become stunningly beautiful. It's exactly what happens in one of the most popular new videos posted on YouTube.
More from CNN's Brooke Anderson.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They say beauty is only skin deep, but today the adage could be beauty is only a click away.
This new ad from Dove exposes the secrets behind the so-called perfect images splashed all over magazines and television today. With a little help, Stephanie is given a whole new look in a matter of seconds. She's photographed and then the clicking begins.
KATHY O'BRIEN, MARKETING DIRECTOR, DOVE: They start to enhance her features, you know, plumping up her lips and enlarging her eyes, and even lengthening her neck. And that's the part that I find to be startling.
ANDERSON: Startling and problematic. According to Dove's marketing director, Kathy O'Brien, she says it's digital techniques like these that, like the ad says, are distorting society's perception of beauty.
K. O'BRIEN: I understand why photographs and fashion magazines want to really portray the most beautiful images that they can, but what we're finding through the work that Dove has done is that these images are really unachievable for women.
ANDERSON: Roshumba Williams is a professional model and has even written a book about it.
ROSHUMBA WILLIAMS, MODEL AND AUTHOR: I've seen them slim thighs and take off weight, even add boobs and things like that. "Cosmo" covers, they do it all the time. They add cleavage.
ANDERSON: Williams says the altered pictures are harmless, that consumers aren't naive, they know photos are enhanced, but still buy the magazines for the fantasy.
WILLIAMS: They want to escape, they want to have the dream, they want to get away. It's easy, it's harmless. I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's a good thing.
ANDERSON (on camera): Dove's mission to change the preconceived notion of beauty is a familiar quest for the star of the highest rated new television show this fall, "Ugly Betty". UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, "UGLY BETTY": Downsize these hips about 15 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "UGLY BETTY": At least.
ANDERSON (voice over): With an average of 14 million viewers a week, "Ugly Betty," a less than glamorous fashion magazine assistant, went head to head with the practice of retouching photos. And in the end, like Dove, chose to broaden the definition of real beauty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started seeing that we are all just an hour away from ugly. That's my new catch phrase.
ANDERSON: Whether it's skin deep or with a click of the mouse, beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder.
Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.
PHILLIPS: Well, the Dove ad has clearly struck a chord. It's one of the most popular videos on YouTube, with more than a million views and counting.
More and more women are waiting to have children. Some are even giving birth in their fifties. But does their age impact their parenting skills? The brand-new study has answers coming up from the NEWSROOM.
RICHARD LUI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Midterm elections are just a couple of weeks away. And a recent survey by the Associated Press Pew Poll says that American voters' interest in elections is at its highest level in more than one decade. You'll find more at CNN.com. You can begin by going to America Votes 2006 Special. It's your one stop for the important issues and key races around the United States. Click through a few scenarios to see what would happen to the balance in the Senate and the House if Republicans or Democrats win races considered to be too close to call.
One key race there in the Senate is in Missouri, where a Republican incumbent, Jim Talent, is trying to keep ahold of his seat against Democratic challenger Claire Mccaskill.
Also, check out other key races in the House of Representatives as well as gubernatorial races in 36 states. And what is your political platform? Take our quiz to find out where you stand on the issues. Find more at CNN.com/election.
From the ".Com Desk", I'm Richard Lui.
PHILLIPS: Hello everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips live in the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon.
Violence in Baghdad. Now new fears an American soldier is kidnapped. We're live in Iraq with details on the search.
PHILLIPS: Preying on the most vulnerable. Ambulances dumping patients on skid row. The LAPD goes undercover. We'll investigate.
LEMON: He was missing more than a month, now newly reunited with his family. We'll talk about Jeff Ingrams' (ph) rare form of amnesia with his mother live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
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