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Looking for Answers in Afghanistan; President Bush Ready to Station Diplomats in Iran; IndyMac Fraud?; Bombs in the Backyard; Blame Across the Border: Why Was Suspected Killer Freed?; Emmy Nominations Announced

Aired July 17, 2008 - 11:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning again, everyone. You're informed with CNN.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on this Thursday, July 17th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Tough transition. Calling for more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but they're still pinned down in Iraq.

HARRIS: Watch on Wall Street. Earnings reports keep investors looking up, but will oil spoil the party.

COLLINS: And driver laughs at high gas prices. He's got an electric car. Why don't you?


Looking for answers in Afghanistan. The U.S. military launching a formal investigation into an insurgent attack that left nine American troops dead.

Live to CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr now.

Hi, Barbara.


This, in the military bureaucratic terminology, is going to be called a 15-6 (ph) investigation. That refers to the rules and regulations that govern how investigations are conducted when there are these types of incidents where commanders want answers.

They want to know how it is that nine U.S. troops died on Sunday in a ferocious firefight with Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan. These, about 25 troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade out of Italy, were put in a situation that really seems unbelievable, to civilians at least. They were in a village not knowing that village had been taken over by as many as 200 insurgents lying in wait for them. So the key question may be, how bad was the intelligence where these young troops were sent?

That said, separate, if you will, from this investigation, it is clear that the Pentagon is now looking to try and find a way to send more troops to Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates talking about it, but that is going to be tough going because a lot of troops are still pinned down in Iraq and they simply don't have the troops to send. But the attack that happened on Sunday really has struck a nerve. Listen to what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to say about it.


ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: It was a very, very large group, several hundred insurgents. It was very well planned, a very sophisticated attack. And, in fact, eight of the nine individuals who died all died basically in the same spot.


STARR: It's an indicator of the type of rising violence that U.S. troops are seeing in Afghanistan. And, of course, what the U.S. believes is a good number of these insurgents are crossing in from Pakistan, just across the border, that the uptick in violence in recent months that they now want more U.S. troops to deal with has largely been because that border is uncontrolled. Taliban, other insurgents coming across almost every day -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Barbara, when you mention that troops are obviously otherwise occupied in Iraq, does that also include special forces, or is that something that could be talked about now here now in this current situation in Afghanistan?

STARR: Well, you know, that's a really good point. There are always small units, if you will, Special Forces, security forces, reconnaissance units, that type of thing that they could send. And, in fact, that may be what we see unfolding in the next couple of weeks.

They call them enablers, small units with a lot of capability that can go enable the rest of the force and sort of be a multiplier in the capability, make things go better, if you will. That might be what they're left with right now because the absolute fact they tell you is they don't have large numbers of troops to send, so they're going to have to look for these little bits of leverage and send what they can -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Barbara Starr. We'll be watching for it.

Thanks, Barbara.

HARRIS: President Bush now reportedly ready to station diplomats in Iran for the first time in almost 30 years. Britain's "Guardian" newspaper says a formal announcement is in the works.

Live now to CNN White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano.

Elaine, good morning. To you. A bit of a whirlwind 24 hours for administration policy with respect to Iran. What is the administration saying about this report in the "Guardian?"

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the White House is not commenting on this article in the British paper, "The Guardian," but I can tell you that this idea has really been discussed within the Bush administration for sometime now.

In fact, it was a few weeks ago when CNN reported that officials were not denying the fact that this was a possibility being considered. We're talking about something called an intrasection, the idea being having not quite a full embassy, a kind of de facto embassy in Tehran, where U.S. diplomats would essentially be stationed to help with things like visas and to help facilitate travel for Iranians who want to visit the United States.

Now, the thinking behind this, we are told by officials, would be to essentially give the United States a better way to reach out in a more direct fashion to the Iranian people, while at the same time having the ability to keep any direct communication with the Iranian government to a minimum. Now, what they don't say, but which is obvious as well, is this would also give the United States a better chance to kind of have an ear to the ground, if you will, in Iran, to get a better sense of sort of the state of Iranian political affairs.

And all of this, of course, coming, Tony, at a time when the United States has really been trying to ratchet up the pressure on Iran to try and curb its nuclear ambitions. But again, this is something that would be more to reach out to the Iranian people, not necessarily to the Iran government.

HARRIS: All right. Elaine, let's see if we can get a better handle on this. Is there another example out there of these so-called intrasections?

QUIJANO: There is. In fact, the United States has had an intrasection in Havana, Cuba, for some time now. And it's interesting to note, Tony, even here in Washington, Iran hasty its own intrasection. It is housed within the embassy of Pakistan.

So it would be very difficult for the Iranians to say no. They certainly could say no if the United States decided to go forward with this, but the reason this is getting a lot of attention now, because on Saturday, a top U.S. official is actually going to be sitting down in Geneva, Switzerland, for what the White House says is a previously scheduled meeting with Iran's top nuclear negotiator and the foreign policy chief of the European Union, people trying to connect some dots here.

But again, this is sort of being viewed as outreach to the Iranian people. If it does go forward, not necessarily to cozy up to the Iranian regime. HARRIS: Yes. That's Under Secretary William Burns you're referring to attending that meeting in Geneva this weekend.

Elaine Quijano at her post at the White House.

Elaine, good to see you. Thanks.

COLLINS: The nation's sputtering economy this morning. New snapshots add to the bigger picture. Let's begin on Wall Street.


HARRIS: Well, new questions are swirling around IndyMac, the California bank seized by federal regulators last week. Sources tell CNN the FBI is investigating the failed bank for fraud.

CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena has been digging up details and she joins us from our Washington bureau.

Kelli, what are you learning?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Tony, this was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history, so it seems only obvious that the feds would be involved in trying to find out if the mistakes that were made were honest ones or something much more sinister.


ARENA (voice over): IndyMac was taken over by regulators last week, and now we learn it's being investigated for possible fraud. Sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN the FBI is looking into whether any crimes were committed when IndyMac made home loans to riskier borrowers. The FBI would not comment, but one source says the investigation is focused on the company and not individuals at this time.

JOSH HOCHBERG, FMR. JUSTICE DEPT. PROSECUTOR: I would suspect that they're looking at bad appraisals, bad underwriting, which would mean false statements on loan applications.

ARENA: And now that the bank has been taken over by regulators, experts say it will be easier for the feds to get their hands on what they need to conduct their probe.

HOCHBERG: There's been so many issues associated with the mortgage failures and the subsequent losses, that the question is whether the FBI has enough resources working these cases.

ARENA: The bureau says it's made investigating mortgage fraud a priority and assigned nearly 200 agents. In all, it's investigating 21 companies. Officials won't offer any details, but CNN has previously confirmed that the nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, is part of that probe.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Our mortgage fraud case load has doubled in the past three years to more than 1,400 pending investigations. We have engaged each of our 56 field offices to focus on this criminal priority.


ARENA: You know, these investigations are very complicated. They take a lot of time. So don't expect any announcements anytime soon -- Tony.

HARRIS: All right. Our Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena for us.

Kelli, thank you.

ARENA: You're welcome.


HARRIS: Not in my backyard. Well, too late. It's already there. Can't make this stuff up. A quiet neighborhood sitting on bombs.


COLLINS: Standing room only last night at a memorial for Army Lieutenant Holley Wimunc. More than 200 people showed up to pay their respects.

Wimunc is the third female soldier at Fort Bragg to be killed in seven months. Her husband, Marine Corporal John Wimunc, is charged with her murder.

HARRIS: The FAA investigating a small plane that crashed in central Oregon. Officials say the twin engine Cessna crashed at Sun River Airport and burst into flames. A witness says the plane hit the runway and just lost control.

The Associated Press says the plane was registered to ProSoft Technology of Bakersfield, California. The AP adds that the company's CEO was killed and was the only one on board.

COLLINS: Two small children are dead after a concrete apartment building stairwell and a balcony collapsed on them while they were playing. It happened last night in Houston. A third child had a broken leg.

Crews worked late into the night to recover the two bodies and shore up the walls. AP reports neighbors had complained about cracks in the staircases that led to patios. The city's building department and child protection agency are investigating.

HARRIS: How could this happen here? That's what folks in one Florida neighborhood are saying about a danger lurking beneath.

CNN's John Zarrella reports.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Search teams scour backyards. Flags show where metal is detected, perhaps just a food can, but that's not all they're finding. To the shock of people here, these teams are finding bombs. How can there be bombs under this quiet suburb of Orlando?

FRANK KRUPPENBACHER, ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: I have no explanation for this. It is incomprehensible.

ZARRELLA: School board council Frank Kruppenbacher is furious. The first bomb was found last summer next to a middle school track. One hundred twenty-six rockets and bombs with high explosives found on school property and tons of military debris. The Army Corps of Engineers is cleaning up.

KRUPPENBACHER: Before they get to walk away and claim we're done, we're going to have a real day of reckoning and assurances.

ZARRELLA: And it's not just the school. Thousands of homes are built next to a 12,000-acre World War II bombing range.

DANETTE LAMB, HOMEOWNER: What am I going to do with this? Nobody wants to touch this neighborhood. I'm stuck, so it's kind of, it's not, this is not my little American family dream that we had.

ZARRELLA: How could this happen? Keeping them honest, we asked the school, home builders and the Army. Mike Ornella heads the Army's corps $10 million cleanup of the Pine Castle Jeep Range.

MICHAEL ORNELLA, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: It was known this was a demonstration area for war fighting.

ZARRELLA: People knew it and you told them?

ORNELLA: People knew it and the information was available, absolutely available.

ZARRELLA: The Army published reports but there's no record it told anyone, even while the school was being built. A 1994 report says, "the site is a possible danger to the public." A 1997 report cites, "strafing, practice bombing, air to ground rocket firing, some high explosive bombing." Did the army corps raise enough flags, you think, about what was going on here?

ORNELLA: I believe the Army Corps followed the process that we're required to follow.

ZARRELLA: Ornella says the Army isn't required to tell anyone even though records show it expected development. The school board builders, engineering firms all say they didn't ask because they had no idea it was an old bombing range. The land developer won't comment. Lawsuits have been filed. John Overchuck is suing one builder, Lenar.

JOHN K. OVERCHUCK, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: They're the ones that made the profit. They're the ones responsible because they got these people suckered into these houses.

ZARRELLA: Lenar says he said it relied on studies that made no mention of a military range and the military did not show up on property ownership records because "it had leased the land." But it was no secret. Nearly two decades ago, local governments said a planned development would have to stop if hazardous military materials turned up.

LAMB: You thought you bought in a good area.

ZARRELLA: Danette Lamb can't believe no one knew there might be bombs in the ground.

LAMB: Somebody knew something. A lot of somebodies turned their heads and tried to make a quick buck.

ZARRELLA: No one knew. Now everyone does.

John Zarrella, CNN, Orlando.


COLLINS: Mistakes in the O.R. -- how to make sure surgical slipups don't happen to you.


HARRIS: President Bush is among those who gathered today to remember Tony Snow. The funeral service for the former White House spokesman taking place in Washington this morning. Snow died of colon cancer Saturday at age 53.

The president praised Snow for his rare record of accomplishment and said his life was far too brief. Snow was White House press secretary from May 2006 until last September. Prior to that, he was a columnist, commentator and talk show host. Snow joined CNN as a contributor in April.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

COLLINS: The operating room is about the last place where you want someone to make a mistake, but surgical mishaps may be more common than you think.

CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining me now on how to how to keep it from happening to you.

So what kind of surgical errors are happening out there? I mean, is it even possible to categorize?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, sure. Removing the wrong organ, operating on the wrong side, operating on the wrong patient. There is a whole laundry list of things that are happening out there. And let's -- I'm going to give you three examples, Heidi, just from the past year.


COHEN: OK, so all of these happened in just the past year.

A cancer patient went in to have a kidney that had cancer in it removed. They kept that kidney in the patient and took out their health kidney. Obviously a big problem.

Another time, an appendix was removed from the wrong patient. The patient down the hall was supposed to have an appendectomy, but it happened to the wrong person.

Also, another one, a very prestigious hospital in Boston, a well- respected surgeon, operated on the wrong side. Again, these are headlines from just the past year. We don't have a really good grip on numbers of how many surgical errors there are because hospitals don't have to report it in most cases...

COLLINS: Which is amazing.

COHEN: ... which is amazing. But many people think that they're happening far more often than we know about.

COLLINS: So what can you do to protect yourself? I mean, to me it seems a little bit obvious in that you just can't ask enough questions.

COHEN: Absolutely.

COLLINS: But let's say, I mean, you're under anesthesia already...

COHEN: Right.

COLLINS: ... you're about to be operated on. You're not asking any questions at that point.

COHEN: No. And so that is a little bit disempowering, to be sure. However, we do have some hints for what to do before you're put to sleep. So let's take a look at some of those hints.

The first one being, communicate like crazy. Let's say I was going in for arthroscopic surgery on my right knee. I would say to every nurse and doctor I came in contact with, "My name is Elizabeth Cohen, this is my date of birth. I'm having arthroscopic surgery on my right knee."

I would feel like an idiot because I would say this probably five, 10 times. But I would keep saying it.

And you also ask to see the surgeon right before that surgery and say, "I am having arthroscopic surgery on my right knee." And you want to do that with the surgeon, the guy who is doing the cutting, or the gal. Also, make sure that you're marked...


COHEN: ... which sounds weird, but I'm going to show you...

COLLINS: No, no, no.

COHEN: Here is a picture of what marked means. You should tell the surgeon, "Put your initials on the place where I'm having surgery." Surgeons should know to do this anyhow, but it doesn't always happen.

COLLINS: Well, and my understanding of that is -- and I don't want to, you know, get too off track here -- is that some hospitals, some operating rooms have different protocol for that. Operate on the one that's marked or operate on the one that's not marked?

COHEN: And that is why the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says put the initials on the correct knee. And you can see more of those pictures if you go to It's up there right now, and you can actually see some examples of what kind of markings ought to be done.

This is a marking on a toe, I think. So you can see some actual examples of what surgeons ought to be doing and ways that you can avoid becoming a victim.

COLLINS: Yes. We also talk a lot about some of the surgical instruments here that can be left inside the body. They close maybe too quickly or forget...

COHEN: Sponges, instruments, yes, absolutely.

Now, that doesn't happen all that often, compared to other types of errors, but it does happen. And that is a case where really there isn't a whole lot you can do, because you are asleep at that point.


COHEN: But one thing that's interesting that's starting to happen is that some doctors are advocating that they should do an x- ray around every surgery, just make it protocol. Do an x-ray so that you can see if you left anything. So some of that might be changing.

COLLINS: Yes. All right. I mean, I figure, why not?

COHEN: Why not? Right.

COLLINS: Be safer, right?

COHEN: Exactly.

COLLINS: All right. Great stuff.

COHEN: Thanks.

COLLINS: So important to be asking all those questions.

And for Elizabeth's full column, and to get your "Daily Dose" of health news online, you can log on to our Web site, where you'll find the latest medical news, a health library, and information on diet and fitness. That address,

HARRIS: A suspect in the killing of a border patrol agent on the run after released from jail. You know, there is a lot of finger- pointing going on, but who's to blame?


HARRIS: Bottom of the hour. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

The soaring cost of fuel, is it putting you in danger? The pilots of U.S. Airways says airline management is trying to cut costs possibly at the expense of your safety.

The union says the airline is pressuring pilots to fly with less fuel than they feel is safe. It says pilots who carried an extra 10 to 15 minutes' worth of fuel were send to intimidating training sessions. U.S. Airways disputes the claims and says safety is always the airline's number one priority.

HARRIS: In North Carolina, police do another search of the home of a missing jogger who turned up dead. The body of Nancy Cooper was found at a construction site Monday. She was reported missing two days earlier. Police won't say how she died. Cooper's twin sister talked to reporters today.


KHRISTA LISTER, SISTER: It's really hard to look in the mirror. When I walk in and I see myself walking, and I'll do a double-take, go, "Nancy!" So I'm not really coping yet, I don't think. It's adrenaline.


HARRIS: Police also have warrants to get DNA evidence from Nancy Cooper's husband. They say he is cooperating. They haven't named a suspect or person of interest.

COLLINS: The Supreme Court says they have the right to bear arms. And today, resident's of the nation's capital can start registering for handguns. Last month, the Supreme Court struck down the city's handgun ban.

The D.C. City Council approved new firearms legislation Tuesday. It allows handguns to be kept in the home if they are used only for self-defense and have fewer than 12 rounds of ammunition.

HARRIS: Heartbreak in the Mideast a day after a prisoner exchange. Two Israeli soldiers laid to rest today. Thousands turned out.

The two were captured in a 2006 cross-border raid. Their remains returned by Hezbollah yesterday.

Israel returned the bodies of almost 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. Mourners met their coffins along the route from south Lebanon to Beirut. Samir Kuntar, one of five prisoners freed by Israel, was welcomed back to his hometown.

Plenty of finger-pointing between U.S. and Mexican officials, and among U.S. agencies, all over the release of a suspected killer.

CNN's Kara Finstrom reports.


KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Mexican authorities tell CNN they are now searching again for Jesus Navarro Montes, the alleged killer of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar.

Navarro is suspected of running over Aguilar in a Hummer in the desert as the agent tried to stop two suspected drug smugglers fleeing for the Mexican border. But after just five months in custody, Mexican authorities released Navarro. The immediate backlash was against Mexico.

T.J. BONNER, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: If this is Mexico's idea of cooperation, I shudder to think what betrayal looks like.

FINNSTROM: Now the finger-pointing has crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S. The Mexican Embassy says Mexican officials contacted the U.S. government several times, asking for enough information to hold or extradite Navarro but got nothing.

Navarro was freed June 18th when a Mexican judge cleared him of an unrelated charge. Mexican officials say they immediately appealed that judge's decision and started looking for Navarro again. The following week, far too late. They say they got an extradition request from the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice is refusing to say when they made that request, and that has Congressman Brian Bilbray fuming. He blasted the Justice Department on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA: But this one is one of those outrages that there's a dead officer serving this country, serving his constitutional responsibility, and nobody is asking the right questions, or at least going through the paperwork to make sure the bad guy doesn't get released.

FINNSTROM: What the Justice Department did say in a statement issued this week: "We cannot provide details with respect to the nature and timing of possible charges against any possible defendant or defendants."


HARRIS: Kara spoke with the Mexican Embassy in Washington, which stressed that the two countries are working together to bring Navarro back in. Meanwhile, the wrangling continues in the United States over what different agencies here did and did not do to keep him in custody.

COLLINS: Presidential politics. John McCain in Missouri today. McCain holds a town hall meeting in Kansas City following his speech at the NAACP convention yesterday. Today we'll see him at 12:30 Eastern, and you'll see it happen live on CNN.

Barack Obama is off the trail but in the money. His campaign says Obama raised $52 million in June. That's more than double the $22 million the McCain campaign took in last month.

HARRIS: Al Gore's power play, not political but electrical. Today, Gore will challenge the United States to produce all its electricity from so-called clean sources within 10 years.

Now, he admits it an ambitious and expensive goal, but he says it will pay itself back many times over. And you can see Gore's energy speech live during "ISSUE #1," noon Eastern, and you can find out more about Gore's energy plan on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

COLLINS: Let's head over to Rob Marciano now in the weather center to talk a little bit more about some of the severe weather that we're hearing about. Thunderstorm warnings, all kinds of good stuff.

Do we have him, or are we roving because we're stalling? Oh, there he is.

Hi Rob.

Oh, we can't hear you. We see your lips moving, but we can't hear you.

Let's try again one more time. Oh, it's out of battery.

HARRIS: A little Simon and Garfunkel moment.


HARRIS: The "Sounds of Silence."

COLLINS: Some thunderstorms in the Midwest, we know that.


COLLINS: High humidity coming to the Southeast, right?

We'll go back to Rob when he's more available.

Falling oil prices lead to rising stocks. Will Wall Street continue climbing today? We're keeping an eye on it.


(BUSINESS REPORT) COLLINS: A decade ago, Detroit was abuzz about electric cars. So who pulled the plug?


HARRIS: So one of golf's most prestigious events under way without its most prestigious player. But there's still plenty of drama at the British Open. At least we hope so.

CNN's Justin Armsden reports from soggy Southport, England.


JUSTIN ARMSDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With the absence of Tiger Woods, the 137th open championship was seen as a wide-open contest before play got under way here at Royal Birkdale on Thursday. Early in the day, blustery wind and driving rain combined to put the world's best players firmly on their back foot and open the contest even further.

The potential for disaster out here was high, and there were a few sorry stories to tell in the clubhouse. World number two Phil Mickelson's poor form in the open championship continued during his opening round. Seven bogeys and a triple bogey combined to blow his first round total out to a 9-over par 79. He has some work to do if he's not to miss the cut in this event for the second year running.

PHIL MICKELSON, GOLF PLAYER: I don't know how to describe it. I mean, you try to go play in it, and you get an idea. But it was very difficult, yes.

ARMSDEN: Mickelson will be licking his wounds, alongside South African Ernie Els, who carted (ph) a 10-over par 80. Conditions have improved, but the wind is likely to keep anyone from posting a breakout score. The world's top golfers are being forced to fight for survival even on the first day.

Justin Armsden, CNN, Southport, England.


COLLINS: Pulling the plug on electric cars. Four-dollar-a- gallon gas may have you wondering, what happened to them?

CNN's Miles O'Brien went looking for some answers.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listen to that sound. Can you hear it? You can't, right?

It's an electric vehicle. This is a 20-year-old Doran. It's a protype.

Now, if you're interested in beating the pump and beating those $4-a-gallon gas prices, it's hard to beat an electric car. The problem with electric cars is there isn't a single, practical, reasonably priced, new electric vehicle on the U.S. market right now.

MARC GELLER, ELECTRIC CAR OWNER: Oh, I did start it. I forget sometimes if it started or not started.

O'BRIEN (voice over): Once you get Marc Geller started on the subject of electric cars, there's no stopping him.

(on camera): So it really doesn't inconvenience you?

GELLER: There's definitely no inconvenience, and there's a tremendous amount of pleasure in passing gas stations and watching the price rise.

O'BRIEN (voice over): Marc's been breezing by gas pumps in San Francisco for seven years. This is his second all-electric car, a used plug-in Toyota Rav 4, used because right now there isn't a new practical electric car on the U.S. market.

(on camera): Is it frustrating?

GELLER: It's incredibly frustrating. It's frustrating because every day I meet people who would like to be driving this car.

O'BRIEN: Ten years ago, Detroit seemed positively plugged in.

NARRATOR: The electric car is here.

O'BRIEN: General Motors built and leased about 1,000 of the fabled EV1s after a California law mandated sales of zero-emission vehicles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's the future. I'm happy.

O'BRIEN: But by 2003, California backed down. GM repo'd the EV1s and destroyed them, amid protests. Marc was among the protesters. So why does he think Detroit pulled the plug?

GELLER: I would say because they are fearful of how disruptive plug-in cars will be and how unattractive their old product line will appear.

O'BRIEN: Marc says a fully-charged battery takes him 120 miles. Normally a charge overnight at home is more than enough to get him through the day. And here's the kicker: Marc works for a solar power company. His own roof is covered with solar cells.

GELLER: As soon as I got the car, I realized, now I understand why this makes sense. I can create my own electricity.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Would you car yourself an electric car zealot?

GELLER: A zealot might be a little strong, but I truly believe that this is an option consumers ought to be able to purchase.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Back now with another one of those Toyota Rav 4 electric vehicles. Take a look under the hood just for a moment. I always like to see what this looks like.

Real simple. That's all for like air-conditioning and stuff. This is just the control unit. And there's big batteries that go back through the drive train.

If you wanted to get one of these, you'd have to go on to eBay. And these days, you'd probably have to spend $60,000 for one.

Steve Taylor is the owner of all of these cars here. He bought this for about $40,000 a few years ago on eBay.

I guess that settles the demand question for electric cars. People want these cars, right?

STEVE TAYLOR, ELECTRIC CAR OWNER: Yes, they certainly do. I've had lots of people come to me and even want to buy one of my cars that I own here.

O'BRIEN: Detroit blinked 10 years ago and pulled the plug, literally, on electric cars. Actually, not quite 10 years ago, but 10 years ago they were way ahead. And they crushed everything. They got rid of all the advances they made.

You have to wonder if they kept going with the electric cars where we'd be now. Have you thought about that much?

TAYLOR: Yes, I would think that we would have an electric car that would go 300 miles, be comfortable, have all of the amenities that we're used to. Lightweight, fast. That would be great.

O'BRIEN: In other words, all the versatility of internal combustion.

Let's go down and look.

This is the only one in his collection here. You can't get these anymore. These are retrofit metros.

This is the only vehicle here you can buy new now. And it's really not -- I mean, it's obviously a single person commuter car. It's expensive, $35,000.


O'BRIEN: It's called the Sparrow or the NMG for "no more gas."

TAYLOR: No more gas.

O'BRIEN: Who is this for and does it really answer a need?

TAYLOR: Well, it's a single person commuter car that will go about 60 miles now with the lithium batteries. Most of the people in America drive by themselves to work. And that's what it was designed for.

O'BRIEN: And most people drive about 30 miles per day. So when they think about electric cars, they think, oh, that's not enough range, but probably it is, right?

TAYLOR: Yes, it is.

O'BRIEN: It's not the car you're going to take to see the Grand Canyon from Atlanta, right?

TAYLOR: No, definitely not.

O'BRIEN: But as a second car, a commuter car, this might be an option.

TAYLOR: Perfect.

O'BRIEN: As for you, what do you say to people that say, well, hey, the electricity that is generated to juice this up comes from coal. It's no cleaner.

TAYLOR: Well, actually, it is cleaner. The power companies are constantly being made to make the power cleaner and cleaner. And a coal power plant charging an electric car is probably just as clean as a Toyota Prius.

O'BRIEN: So we're ahead of the game on that.

All right. I'm going to take it for a quick test drive. This thing will do what now in speed?

TAYLOR: Seventy miles an hour.

O'BRIEN: If you dare. Have you ever taken it to 70?

TAYLOR: Yes, I have, and it was scary.

O'BRIEN: I bet it was. Were you wearing your helmet?


O'BRIEN: All right, I'm off in the Sparrow. And I don't know if I'm going to take it 70, but I'm going to give it a kick.


Miles O'Brien, CNN, in Powder Springs, Georgia.


HARRIS: Oh, Miles. OK.

Going for TV gold. Find out if your favorite programs are up for an Emmy. That is next.


HARRIS: And the nominees are...

The prime time Emmy nominations were announced this morning. And for the first time, two programs from basic cable made the list.

Kareen Wynter live now from Los Angeles with highlights.

Kareen, good morning to you. I'm hearing that there was a bit of a first at the nominations this morning.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. Tons of surprises.

In fact, Tony, the morning was filled with oh so many of them. And people were getting to -- a few of those were. Let's chat a little bit about some of the top categories nominated at this morning's 60th annual prime time Emmy Award nominations announcement.

What a mouthful that is.

Actors Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth helped kicked the morning off, and in a good way. That's because both were nominated in the supporting actor and actress comedy categories.

In the outstanding drama series category, listen to this: "Boston Legal," "Damages," "Dexter," "House," "Lost," and "Mad Men" all got nods. For outstanding comedy series, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Entourage," "The Office," "30 Rock" and "Two and a Half Men" will be battling it out.

Now, some interesting things to note, Tony. Leading the pack in nominations was HBO, with 23 nods for its miniseries, "John Adams." It also got the most overall nominations of any network, 85 total. That's followed by NBC's comedy "30 Rock," which picked up 17 nominations.

Now, rounding out the big three was AMC's "Mad Men," with 16 nominations. That's huge, especially for basic cable. "Damages" and "Mad Men" are the first two basic cable programs to be nominated in the drama categories.

The statues will be handed out September 21st, right here in Los Angeles -- Tony.

HARRIS: Yes. I was hoping our friend Kyra Sedgwick over at TNT would get a nomination for "The Closer," and that show as well. Anything like that on the list?

WYNTER: Well, I don't have that list in front of me. But I do believe that she was actually nominated for that. I can...

HARRIS: Oh, terrific. Yes, send me an e-mail on that, Kareen.

WYNTER: I -- it's already done.

HARRIS: All right. Good to see you, Kareen. Thanks.

WYNTER: You too, Tony.

COLLINS: "The Piano Man," Billy Joel, playing Shea Stadium last night and leaving a sold out crowd in a "New York State of Mind." His performance tonight will be the last rock concert there before Shea is torn down at the end of the baseball season.

Also, want to let you know coming up in just a little while right on here CNN, "ISSUE #1" is coming up, as well as Al Gore's speech on climate change. He will be taking to the podium coming up very shortly.

HARRIS: But right now, let's get you to "ISSUE #1" with Gerri Willis and Ali Velshi. It starts right now.