Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Flat Tax; Greek Financial Crisis; Interview with Governor McDonnell; Wild Animals Escape in Ohio; Where is Baby Lisa?
Aired October 19, 2011 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, HOST: We're on the "Front Line" in Zanesville, Ohio, 49 exotic animals shot and killed today. Why it happened and why it could happen again.
And then your advertising could land in front of two million people. We can't resist telling you about Spirit Airlines big idea.
And the "Bottom Line" on Rick Perry's flat tax proposal, is it an idea whose time has come or just an idea that smells bad?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Hello, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett and OUTFRONT tonight taxes, presidential candidate Rick Perry on the heels of last night's presidential debate proposing a flat tax.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Scrapping the three million words of the current tax code starting over with something simpler, a flat tax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, a flat tax has one big problem. That is if you tax everyone at the same rate, people who earn less get hit relatively harder and end up paying more than they do under the current system. Now the flat tax was popularized by Steve Forbes during his two presidential runs, but he actually exempted families of four making less than $36,000.
Now bold ideas are something we champion on this show to build a greater America. So let's hit the "Bottom Line" on whether the flat tax is bold and smart or bold and bad. Jim Bianco is president of Bianco Research. Jim, you took the time to run the numbers and make sense of it, the bottom line, instead of the politics of it. If you exempt people earning under a certain amount, what's the magic rate for everyone else to raise the same amount of revenue under a flat tax as we do right now?
JIM BIANCO, PRESIDENT, BIANCO RESEARCH: If you exempt everybody under 36,000, you're going to exclude about 38 or 39 percent of all taxpayers. Sixty-one, 62 percent of all taxpayers would pay and that's a little bit more than currently pay. And the rate that would maybe about revenue neutral right now is about 19 percent. That's a little elevated because the government has been spending more money in the last few years than it has historically. The 17 percent proposal that Governor Perry and Steve Forbes have proposed is probably more in line with very long-term averages, not the current elevated rate.
BURNETT: So you're saying 19 or 20 percent and to be clear capital gains and dividends under that math would remain taxed as they currently are right at 15?
BIANCO: That's correct. Those are separate taxes and those would be separate issues all together.
BURNETT: OK, so how many other countries have tried flat taxes because you know a few years ago this seemed like a bold new idea but it is not anymore? A lot of people have tried it.
BIANCO: Yes, there's about 22, 23 countries that currently have a flat tax. A lot of them are the former Soviet Union. Russia is probably the biggest economy right now that currently has a flat tax. They've had it since 2001.
BURNETT: All right and if we went flat, or mostly flat, flat on income and you know keep capital gains where they are. What would it mean to America? It's a pretty big hit, isn't it?
BIANCO: Yes. As far as the Americans go, it would be a boon for the American public. They spend about seven billion hours a year calculating their taxes. And if you go to a flat tax, it could be a very simple process. January is the football playoff season. You can probably do it during halftime of one of the football games, calculate your taxes and you're done with it. We wouldn't have to spend all the money on accountants or the hours figuring out the complexity of the tax code or even put us money into investments that make no economic sense but are there to avoid taxes.
BURNETT: We lost all those jobs; hopefully they can find something more productive to do. We can always make fun of accountants and lawyers. All right thanks so much, appreciate it Jim.
BIANCO: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right, there's a bottom line in terms of the math and the numbers here. A flat tax really has always had some popular appeal. It is simple and by some accounts more fair although obviously that's where the debate comes in.
John Avlon is a senior columnist for "Newsweek", "The Daily Beast" and a contributor. James Carville is a CNN contributor and Democratic strategist. Ed Rollins is a Republican strategist and until recently campaign manager, for Michele Bachmann and what an honor to have you all three here together.
BURNETT: All right, let's go (INAUDIBLE). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
BURNETT: The three musketeers we've got here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely --
BURNETT: All right, John --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old man and the kid --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
BURNETT: John Avlon, we talk so much about these independents that are really up for grabs in this election. Independents, will they go for a flat tax?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The last time this was polled (INAUDIBLE) 37 percent supporting the nation that will roughly (INAUDIBLE) independents, but it's compared to what? The current system only gets around 19 percent, so this could make some inroads because you've got to remember independents do have an affinity for tax simplification. This is simpler and it's considered sort of more to the right. This will help Perry a lot with the base. That's the real play here. But keep in mind, big idea, he's backing this flat tax because his campaign was flat lining and that's why he's coming out with this --
BURNETT: He needs to come out with something. What do you think, James Carville?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it's a smart political move. Look, I think his idea will never fly once somebody does the first distribution table. My question is why can't you do a 15, 25, 35 tax? It'd be just as simple. If simplicity has to go, why does it have to be flat? You could have a progressive simple tax if you wanted to --
BURNETT: Just get rid of all the loopholes --
CARVILLE: Get rid of everything and have a -- you know 15 percent on you know everything between 25 and 50,000 and then you know just have a progressive tax. But forget that for the moment. I think Perry did the smart thing for Perry to do. And the Republican base loves it because basically it clobbers the working poor and the middle class and (INAUDIBLE) nothing that will make him more popular (INAUDIBLE).
BURNETT: It is possible though. I mean I know to James' point it gets complicated, but if you do exempt people who earn under a certain amount you do deal with some of that regressivety (ph).
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's been an idea. It's been debated for about 30 hours and it wasn't just Republicans that talked about it initially, it was Senator Bradley (ph) and Senator and Majority Leader Congressman Gephardt who had a Bradley-Gephardt (ph) proposal. In 1984 when I was running Reagan's campaign, we put a line in the Treasury bill, a state of the union bill, we would study tax reform.
And we came back. We tried to do a flat tax, couldn't quite do it. We did similar to what you talked about, the 16, 25. The best and most articulate guy to sell this was Steve Forbes White House is now an adviser to Perry. Steve Forbes ran for president twice. He's a very articulate guy, could never sell it. And I think at the end of the day, it would be a very tough sell --
BURNETT: And he did try.
ROLLINS: He tried very hard --
BURNETT: He tried.
AVLON: He bet the whole campaign on it, but I don't think Steve Forbes campaign failed because of the flat tax. I actually think this is a very bold idea and it will help Perry a lot with the base. It will help him with fiscal conservatives who've been kind of wandering about his support. It will reinforce support with tea parties (INAUDIBLE) idea originated (INAUDIBLE) Hoover Institution, so it's got a lot of credibility there.
But I do think also it has a real chance to help shift the debate. Like James was just saying, maybe it's an opening bid to broader tax reform. Because people really do want to see tax simplification right now. And this is not a crazy idea. This is a big idea --
BURNETT: And James Carville, it does seem -- the American people separate from what goes on in Washington, they want tax reform. They want simplification. They want action.
CARVILLE: I think the flat tax is the craziest thing --
BURNETT: I know you don't like it. You don't like it --
CARVILLE: OK and first of all because state taxes are horrifically regressive. The only regressive tax we have in this country is the federal tax. Now if you wanted to have a simple flat progressive tax I'm fine with that. I wouldn't have any problem with that at all, but going back to the politics of the moment, look, Perry has got -- there's only two people in this race that have any chance of being a nominee.
That's Perry and Romney. Perry was stuck in not neutral, he was stuck in reverse. Last night, consensus seems to be that he helped himself a little bit. He had an energy plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CARVILLE: Now he's got this. He's got a real sort of contrast at Romney. It's going to be popular with a lot of people in the Republican Party. I think politically this is a smart thing for Rick Perry to do. I think it's a cockamamie idea but I think it's a smart thing --
ROLLINS: I agree with that because it puts 9-9-9 to bed and 9-9-9 -- there was another person on that stage last night that supported 9-9- 9. He's -- Perry has got to get Cain's vote back again. He has got to pull from those voters that shifted from him to Cain and I think this may help him somewhat --
AVLON: And credit to Cain for creating that opening bid. He started putting a big idea out there, moved the shift of the debate back to policy and now Perry is trying to trump it with a flat tax. That's good. That's a move in the right direction.
CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) Cain just was one guy with one idea, no money and he went pretty -- gone pretty far with it.
BURNETT: Right and obviously it appears to be the sales tax issue --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BURNETT: -- one of the big problems with the 9-9-9 which --
BURNETT: -- Perry could get around with it.
ROLLINS: There is another big political movement out there though and that's the fair tax, and the fair tax was very much the backbone of much of Mike Huckabee's and the fair tax is you sort of gobble it all up, state, everything, and it all comes out with one number. And there are a lot of people out there that have bought into that --
AVLON: I think the flat tax is probably fairer than the fair tax at the end of the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
AVLON: I'll take that to the mat.
ROLLINS: I'm just saying there's a counter point out there --
CARVILLE: Sales tax (INAUDIBLE).
AVLON: That's my point.
CARVILLE: The other thing is he going to exempt -- is he going to exempt you know the home mortgage deduction, the charitable deduction, the state and local finance --
BURNETT: Well then all of a sudden --
BURNETT: You're only taking out a few pages of the many thousands --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Loopholes, I think we all could agree loopholes --
ROLLINS: You brought all this political firepower --
BURNETT: That's something we all can agree --
ROLLINS: -- all this political firepower to discuss tax policy that all we know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a good point.
BURNETT: And I think there's one thing you can all agree on, you all think you pay too much tax.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
CARVILLE: Not me. Not me. I think I agree with (INAUDIBLE). The taxes we buy civilization and if we're spending 24 percent of our GDP on government and what, you know 18 or whatever it is on taxes --
BURNETT: Eighteen and a half --
CARVILLE: That's not enough. But I'm not running for anything.
BURNETT: Thanks to all. It's a really great --
ROLLINS: More money for defense.
BURNETT: It's a great segue because civilization obviously began in Greece, a place where they do not pay their taxes anymore which is a big part of the reason the country is failing. An estimated 70,000 Greeks took to the streets today to protest more cuts. What it means for Greece and the EU.
And then Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (ph) has been mentioned as a possible VP candidate. He comes OUTFRONT to discuss the president's jobs plan and the current campaign. And we hope you're in good spirits because we have a story we don't think you will be able to resist tonight.
The number tonight 437,675 that is how many fewer Greeks flew domestically in the first eight months of this year. That's a 10 percent decline from 2010. Part of the reason the airlines often on strike, people earn less money thanks to austerity, that's part of the big problem in Greece. Productivity in Greece is so low these days because the country tends to go on strike.
As many say like it's a national sport, lots of unions in Greece and lots of striking even when times are good, there are often strikes in Greece. But obviously now times are far from good and an estimated 70,000 people took to the streets on the first day of a two-day national strike to protest another round of cuts the government is proposing to prevent default. Those are wage cuts, pension cuts, tax increases and layoffs.
The austerity measures could be necessary to secure additional aid from the IMF and the EU, actually they are necessary. The Greek Parliament is scheduled to vote on the plan tomorrow. Tyler Brule is a columnist for the "Financial Times", editor-in-chief of "Monocle" magazine. Tyler great to see you, I know you've spent a lot of time in Greece, spent a lot of time covering this issue for Europe as well.
But the world has been led to believe that Greece is so important to the global economy, that it is important to Europe and therefore important to the United States because Europe is our biggest trading partner. But you look at Greece. It's only what, two or so percent of the EU economy. Can we afford for Greece to fail?
TYLER BRULE, COLUMNIST, FINANCIAL TIMES/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MONOCLE: The key issue is that Greece is still a powerful brand, so no matter how small the contribution, Greece is with us for millennia and that's part of the issue. So you have a very strong brand. I think that's also part of the issue. People want Greece to succeed by virtue of what it's meant for you know for centuries.
BURNETT: And so you think that Greece can turn it around?
BRULE: No. I didn't say that. I'm not convinced Greece can turn it around. I think you only have to look back over decades or generations. This is not a new problem.
BRULE: Greece has not been in great shape for a very long time. This isn't something that's been with us for three weeks or three months or even three years. And I think part of the issue here and this is why I'm not convinced, is of course you know we have to look to Paris and we're looking to Berlin for answers. But I think there -- something has to happen within Athens, it has to happen within the board rooms and at a corporate level in Thessalonica (ph) and that is also a road map or a recipe, which has also been devised at home and we're not seeing that right now. That sense of what is Greece going to become? Are you going to become the most important tourist destination in Europe? How are you going to get yourself out of this in a homemade way as well?
BURNETT: Yes. Which they could, by god we all know it's an absolutely gorgeous country. They could -- it could capitalize more on that if they chose to. But Tyler, do you think that if Greece fails, you know it's sort of become a given in the financial markets, we can't afford for that to happen. But can we? If Greece were to fail, leave the euro, would we be OK?
BRULE: I think we would be OK, but it is also then a bigger issue. What does it mean for not just the EU, you're really talking about brand Europe and I think that's what's really at the heart of all of this. And if this system allows it to fail, then where does it of course leave everybody else? And as you talk about you know the major trading relationship that the U.S. has, not to mention many other major players in the G8, that is a key element that sits here, but there's a lot of discussion right now about you know potentially what happens at some point after Christmas potentially --
BRULE: -- when we get into the New Year. There's a lot of discussion -- you speak to a lot of people at think tanks in London in Berlin and you know there are many people saying (INAUDIBLE) we might have to cut them adrift.
BURNETT: All right, well we will see what happens and whether we can get through it. Thanks so much, appreciate it, Tyler Brule.
BRULE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And here in the U.S., the president is not pushing austerity, but the economy is his biggest problem. Now today he wrapped up the jobs bus tour trying to get everything -- trying everything he can to get the economy growing again because the polls are painful. When polled against a generic Republican, right now the president loses 38-46 percent.
Just against a generic GOP according to Gallup, but here's what's interesting. When you run the president against specific individuals like Mitt Romney, for example, the two are statistically even, which means the race is tight. And the VP choice on the Republican side really could make the difference.
One man to consider, Bob McDonnell, he's a Republican governor of Virginia. He met with the president on that jobs tour today and he is with us now. Governor McDonnell, thanks so much, appreciate your taking the time, sir. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Thanks, Erin. Congratulations on the new show.
BURNETT: All right, well thank you, sir, and it's good to have you with us obviously --
BURNETT: -- from your neighboring state of Maryland. I wanted to start off by asking you first of all, you know Rick Perry came out today with his flat tax. I know you know him. You've met with him. You've met with Governor Romney as well. What do you think of this flat tax idea?
MCDONNELL: Well I think it's got some merit. I think everybody has agreed for a long time that the complexities of the IRS code now are beyond the reach of the average American citizen and so we've got to make it more understandable, more simple and frankly more fair. That's one approach.
But I think what we need more than that right now is an honest conversation with the American people about cutting spending, living within our means and getting out of debt. That's really the issue in the campaign as well as creating jobs.
BURNETT: And I know you met with the president today and obviously you're both meeting with veterans talking about his jobs bill. Your unemployment in Virginia is pretty good. I think the number that I saw today, 6.3 percent, nearly three percentage points below the national.
BURNETT: Obviously you benefit from defense and federal jobs and stimulus funds as well.
BURNETT: Are you grateful to the president for the stimulus plan so far that it preserved some jobs in Virginia?
MCDONNELL: Well I think for every state it was short term help, but that money is now gone and we're looking at what we can do to sustain a healthy economy in our state. Even with that short term infusion of cash, we've cut billions of dollars out of the budget the last couple of years including education and health care. We made tough choices, set priorities, and Erin, the last two years we've had 400 and $500 million surpluses and so I think we're on the right track and we need the same kind of guts and leadership in Washington to be honest to say look, we're broke. We can't afford this anymore and we need to talk about job creation and energy development and more access to the American dream. And we've got to stop spending. We just can't afford it anymore.
BURNETT: So what do you think about a VP ticket? There's a market out there that handicaps the odds, you're on the list, along with Marco Rubio and Chris Christie of popular choices among people who are betting on it. Is there any candidate that you would say, I just don't want to be on their ticket?
MCDONNELL: Well look that's all speculation. I'll let you all -- you experts talk about those sorts of things. I think we've got eight great potential candidates. I'm a little bit partial to having a governor or a businessman, somebody who has had to balance a budget, make a bottom line, who has to get things done on time, can't make excuses. I think that's what we're lacking frankly in this administration right now, so I'm a little partial to governors, but I think any one of them will do a great job on the two main issues that affect America, and that is how do we get our economy stimulated again, get entrepreneurs doing what they do best, and how do we get the greatest country on earth more fiscally responsible and solvent? That's what this whole campaign is about next year and I think a lot of candidates could do that.
BURNETT: All right, thank you so much. Appreciate it Governor McDonnell, look forward to seeing you again soon, sir.
MCDONNELL: All right, Erin.
BURNETT: He's a little partial to governors.
MCDONNELL: All right.
BURNETT: Well he's a governor himself, so what do you expect? All right thanks again. Well still OUTFRONT Spirit Airlines new campaign takes flight. We cannot resist telling you about this one.
And then a really disturbing story, you may have heard about the dozens of animals shot and killed in Ohio today. It's an incident that authorities say could have been avoided.
And we've got the very latest on Carla Bruni (ph) OUTFRONT to Paris about -- with details about the new French baby.
BURNETT: And now, a story we can't resist. Now the airline industry is in trouble. American Airlines reportedly facing bankruptcy and Ryan Air (ph) of course reportedly thought about charging for use of the toilet. Now Spirit Airlines has found a creative way to combat their problem. For the first time they're selling ad space in and on their plane and they have even put together a menu for potential advertisers.
You can get your ad on all of these, overhead bins 196,000, tray tables 119,000, flight attendants -- only the aprons -- for 19,000, air sickness bags 18,500 and Styrofoam cups 16,000. Now what do you get for that? You get three months of ads on every Spirit plane and of course production, installation are included in the cost just in case you're wondering. Now if you're feeling a little more lavish for $14 million you can wrap the outside of every single plane in the fleet with your ad for a full year. Now there's no word yet whether if anyone has actually rented ad space with Spirit. But we could not resist coming up with some ideas of our own. Like this for Levi's 401 jeans, this for -- come on -- this for Victoria's Secret and, of course, this for Botox. You're probably wondering if OUTFRONT will be advertising with Spirit since we kind of got into the spirit of things but we won't. But that's only because we're waiting for another company to offer ad space to us. We just couldn't resist.
All right OUTFRONT next, dozens of exotic animals were shot and killed. It was an avoidable tragedy. We're going to tell you why and what needs to be done so it doesn't happen again.
And police have (INAUDIBLE) the home of missing baby Lisa. A family member comes OUTFRONT tonight to tell us what he thinks might have happened to the missing 11-month-old baby. And (INAUDIBLE) Andy Borowitz (ph) is here to talk about his book, "The 50 Funniest American Writers" (ph), oh and the Republican presidential candidates.
BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about. We focus on our own reporting, do the work, and find the "OutFront Five".
Number one tonight, Rick Perry revealed he will propose a flat tax as part of his economic plan. The Texas governor says the details will come out next week. Jim Bianco of Bianco Research, a consultant for our strike team, told us earlier on OUTFRONT that if Governor Perry wanted a flat tax that brings in the same amount of money our current system does, the rate would have to be around 19 percent to 20 percent. And you could exempt any who made under $36,000 for a family of four.
Number two, anti-depressant use in America has skyrocketed. One out of every 10 Americans is now taking an anti-depressant. It's an incredible spike according to Centers for Disease Control.
But OUTFRONT asked our team to break down the numbers. And they said the numbers may seem large, but the fact is, only a third of people with severe depression take antidepressants. So, they say, more needs to be done so the people who really need those drugs are actually on them.
Number three, the fed released its beige book today. What it does is give us an up to the moment look at the economy across the country. Over all the take away is this -- the economy is growing modestly but still growing, which is an important thing.
The outlook, though, weaker and it did have an effect on stocks when it came out mid-afternoon. All three major markets in the United States closed lower, the Dow down 72.
Number four: new home construction, 15 percent in September. That is the highest rate in 17 months. That sounds fantastic, but overall, the housing market obviously recovering slowly and frankly at a much slower pace than expected.
We spoke to some analysts today. They say they expect housing numbers to drop off this surge we just saw. They say look at new construction permits. That will give you a sense of where we will be in a few months. They're at a five month low.
Well, it has been 75 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, there are new details tonight on those wild animals set loose out of Ohio. All but one has now been captured or killed. Now, we have obtained a graphics photo showing a number of the dead animals. And we want to warn you that the image may be disturbing.
The photo shows at least a dozen dead animals, mostly bears and tigers. Police say a single monkey remains at large after an estimated 56 animals escaped from an exotic game preserve in Zanesville, Ohio, Tuesday night. School children were forced to stay home today as police launched a frantic search for the big game, including wolves, lions and tigers.
Now, they escaped after the 62-year-old game keeper, Terry Thompson pried open their cage doors before reportedly committing suicide. Six of them were later captured and transported to the zoo in Columbia, Ohio. Another 49 were shot and killed. That includes two wolves, six black bears, two grizzlies, a mountain bear, a baboon and 17 lions and 18 tigers.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz is in Zanesville, Ohio, tonight. He joins us now.
And, Sheriff Lutz, today, you had said that the killing of all these animals was senseless. Why did you make the decision to shoot to kill? Why not use tranquilizers?
SHERIFF MATT LUTZ, MUSKINGUM COUNTY, SHERIFF'S DEPT.: None of our cruisers are equipped with tranquilizer guns. We have approximately 31 to 32 primary response cars for Muskingum County. None of those are equipped with any kind of tranquilizer guns. We're not equipped to deal with 300-pound Bengal tigers or black bears.
Obviously, if we get a stray, a bear out of the woods and we can contain it, we can call people to tranquilize that. One of the biggest hurdles we had in this case was the night fall. We had about an hour to hour and a half of good daylight. And we just made the decision -- I made the decision that public safety was our number one concern.
BURNETT: So, Terry Thompson, the game keeper here who was found dead, apparently committed suicide, freed the animals before he did so, was convicted of cruelty to animals back in 2005.
Do you know why he was allowed to continue to have these animals, why he still had any park at all, never mind one with at least 56 wild animals?
LUTZ: I have no idea.
BURNETT: There were some other animals you had mentioned last time when you were -- when you were there visiting, giraffes, camels. Do you have any sense whether they were there? How sure are you when you say 56, that that's really the full count?
LUTZ: We're pretty sure of ourselves with that. That count was based on the two farm hands that worked there with the animals, fed the animals on a daily basis, went there to assist Mr. Thompson with the animal care. The list that we developed was made by them.
And, of course, as we recovered the animals, we were making a list to compare to that.
BURNETT: And where did some of your force find the animals? I know you said they didn't have very much time. Where had they all gone? Were they all near the park? Were they somewhere else? What was the farthest you found one?
LUTZ: Well, Mr. Thompson's house and pens are about 500 yards off the road. These animals were down near the road. Some of them were outside the livestock fence he has up. Some of them were just inside the livestock fence making their way towards the road.
We had some animals that were killed approximately 500 yards towards the interstate, trying to get to the interstate and we also had animals killed approximately 500 yards in the opposite direction southeast of the house.
BURNETT: It's sad. I mean, I understand the position you were in. But, obviously, it's still a distressing story.
I want to ask you about one animal still unaccounted for, a monkey. Jack Hanna, the wildlife expert, had suggested the money may have been eaten by one of the tigers. Are you still looking for the monkey?
LUTZ: Well, we had our public -- we told our public we have one unaccounted for. We want them to watch for anything that they might see. We have no reports coming in to us. And it is highly possible that the monkey was eaten by one of the lions, because we had another monkey that was killed by one of the lions.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Sheriff Lutz, thanks so much for taking the time. We appreciate it.
LUTZ: All right. Thank you.
BURNETT: So, big game is a big business in the United States. The Humane Society estimates there are between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers in private hands in the United States. That's stunning. And 15,000 primates owned by individuals.
And yet there are few regulations in place to protect the public or the animals from the tragedy in Ohio today.
Adam Roberts is executive vice president of the national animal advocacy group Born Free USA. He joins us from Washington.
From Toledo, Ohio, Kenny Hetrick joins us. He knew Terry Thompson, the man who let the animals loose in Zanesville. He's the owner of wild animal preserve called Tiger Ridge Exotic.
All right. Thanks to both of you.
Kenny, I wanted to start with you, though, since you knew Terry and dealt with him before. What do you think caused him to do this?
KENNY HETRICK, OWNER, TIGER RIDGE EXOTICS: Well, I believe it was a number of things. He was under stress because of his marriage. He recently got released from prison. And what his thoughts were before he released these animals, nobody will ever know, but it had to be some kind of depression.
BURNETT: It really is tragic, especially as you just heard from the sheriff saying the animals were all found very close to the preserve, kind of clumped together. I'm curious about Terry Thompson -- apparently was convicted of animal cruelty six years ago. Why was he allowed after that to own these animals in this first place?
HETRICK: Well, that's a good question. One thing he didn't have, the USDA license. He wasn't a -- he didn't have the USDA permit that's usually required. I understand that his license was turned in or taken from him in 1999. And he spent some time in prison for some kind of gun violation.
And -- but he still had all these animals, plus a petting zoo. But he didn't have the license. So, he more-or-less -- he wasn't under the control of anybody.
BURNETT: Right. Adam Roberts, how could this happen? And how common is this? It does seem there's a real lack of clarity about how many sorts of businesses like this that there are.
ADAM ROBERTS, EXEC. VICE PRESIDENT, BORN FREE USA: Well, it's definitely a tragedy, and that's one of the big problems, is that we're all scratching our heads thinking about how it can happen. And I'm afraid that I have to be rather brutal, is that the Ohio legislature, the governor, the people who make the decision about laws in the state didn't crack down when they had the opportunity to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Ohio is one of the worst states in the country both in terms of number of exotic animals incidents within the state where animals were escaping or attacking people, and one of the worst states in terms of lax legislation.
So, clearly, this should have been addressed years ago and we hope that this will at least be the trigger that causes action at the state level.
BURNETT: Adam, how many people -- how many animals. You're talking 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in private hands. It does seem that this has become, for individuals, a lot of these exotic animals are now pets. I would imagine that is not something really that's ever safe.
ROBERTS: No, not at all. At Born Free USA, we believe that wildlife belongs in the wild. It's very simple mantra. And, you know, the tiger cub, the capuchin monkey baby, they all seem cute at first, but they do grow big, they grow aggressive, they mature. And they simply don't belong around people.
So, the best thing to do is leave the wildlife in the wild and let the experts take care of animals such as the ones at this person's house and give them a life worth living, quite frankly.
Born Free USA operates a sanctuary down in Texas where we rescue primates, including primates that come from the pet trade and we let them live out their lives in as natural a way we can possibly provide. And that kind of accredited sanctuary is where these types of animals can be if they're going to be in captivity at all.
BURNETT: Kenny, can you make the case why you do this? Why you have all these animals? Why you think it makes sense?
HETRICK: Well, I did it for a long time. I did it for 38 years. I've had tigers, lions, bears, leopards, jaguars. I had all the big cats.
And I can say that I've never had an escape. I've never had -- nobody's ever been hurt. I always had the USDA license and I abide by the rules. But on this thing down in Zanesville, I'd like to clarify one thing that, this wasn't an escape. None of these animals escaped. They were -- the man unlocked the doors and let them go.
You know, it's not -- it's not something that was in violation of any kind of a law. He could have had 10 USDA license and it would have still been the same results. This was purposely done.
BURNETT: All right. Adam and Kenny, thank you very much both for joining us with your perspectives.
ROBERTS: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right. Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He's got a look at what's coming up on "360."
You were covered. You had a long night last night, Mr. Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": It was fascinating night, Erin. I appreciate you being there as well.
We're keeping them honest. Ahead on the program tonight, a clash with candidates in Las Vegas, with attacks on all sides of the stage. How accurate were some of the accusations that were made on that stage.
Tonight, we're holding them accountable, the people who want to be the next president, keeping them honest. Also, keeping myself honest for a mistake I made. We'll tell you about that.
Also, we'll have more on the exotic animal hunt in Ohio that Erin was just talking people about. The pictures you're about to see are tough to watch. You might have seen them moments ago. First responders in Ohio having made tough choices as darkness was about falling last night. Shooting to kill or let cheetahs, wolves, lions and tigers escape into the night, endangering nearby residents or nearby neighborhoods and schools. I'm going to speak with local sheriff.
And we're going to talk to Columbus Zoo director emeritus Jack Hanna who's also on the scene tonight.
Also, the Michael Jackson death trial -- prosecutors getting close to wrap up their case with jurors getting a lesson on how to properly administer the drug, Propofol.
Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist," Erin, at the top of the hour.
BURNETT: All right. Looking forward to it as always, Anderson. See you then.
And still OUTFRONT tonight, president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife, Carla Bruni, welcome a bundle of joy. We go to Paris.
And we're OUTFRONT in Kansas City with the latest in the baby Lisa case. The police have searched the home for a second time, looking for the 11-month-old infant. What did they find? We'll talk to a family member tonight. He comes OUTFRONT.
And author Andy Borowitz OUTFRONT to talk about, well, Silvio Berlusconi. Yes, he made the cut. So, did old Vlad.
We'll be back.
BURNETT: We do this nearly the same time every night or as close as we can, our "Outer Circle" where we reach to our sources around the world.
And tonight, we begin in Syria where 15 citizens and seven Syrian army soldiers were killed today. Fighting broke out with suspected army defectors. Now, this according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Arwa Damon is in Beirut, Lebanon.
And, Arwa, what triggered this?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, in recent weeks, we have been seeing violence concentrated specifically in areas where defections have been taking place like this city of Homs.
We met a defector who has been wounded as he managed to escape from Syria into Lebanon. And he simply said that he was exhausted and sick of so much indiscriminate random killing. He also were saying that the free Syrian army that is largely made up of defectors had been carrying out successful operations against the Syrian security forces. So, much of the current crackdown that we're seeing is specifically targeted towards hunting down those who have defected and those who may be sheltering them -- Erin.
BURNETT: Arwa, thank you.
And now to neighboring Turkey where 24 soldiers were killed in an early morning attack by Kurdish rebels inside Iraq. It was a rocket attack.
Andrew Finkel is in Istanbul tonight.
Andrew, what can you tell us about this attack?
ANDREW FINKEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we witnessed a well-planned and certainly brutally effective attack by the PKK, Kurdish militants, on the Turkish side of the Iraqi border. Now, the Turkish army has responded in kind. There has been a hot-pursuit operation onto the Iraqi side of the border, and we know there have been clashes inside Turkey.
The question now is whether the politicians can contain the situation which the militants have been trying to inflame -- Erin.
BURNETT: Andrew, thank you. Pretty amazing headline.
And now to Paris where French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy just gave birth.
Erin McLaughlin is in Paris.
And, Erin, a lot of people have been waiting and watching for this. What can you tell us about the Sarkozy's new baby?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the first lady here in France gave birth to a little girl tonight in Paris. We understand from a close family friend that both mother and daughter are doing just fine.
We don't expect the palace to issue any official photographs of the little girl anytime soon. The first lady has said she plans to be very protective of this child. Nevertheless, people here in France are extremely excited about the birth. It is after all the first child to be born to the French president during the Fifth Republic -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. A lot of people are very curious to see.
All right. Well, for the second time in 16 days, police have searched the Missouri home where 11-month-old Lisa Irwin disappeared. There is still no sign, though, of the missing baby.
Investigators have questioned her mother, Deborah Bradley, who admits she was drinking the night Lisa vanished and possibly even blacked out. She also admits she failed a polygraph when asked about Lisa's whereabouts. Now, Bradley insists she has nothing to do with her daughter's disappearance. And we're going to be joined tonight by a member of the family but Ms. Bradley's advised at the last minute that he not join us. So, I'm sorry. He's not with us tonight.
Jim Spellman, though, has been covering the story. He's in Missouri. He's been working the case.
And, Jim, what can you tell us? I know they searched the home again today. Do you have any idea as to why?
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Supposedly, it's not based on any new information but rather just a desire to go back and do due diligence. They're about 10 hours in the search. They're still here now coming in and out of the house.
It began actually last night when they were issued a search warrant, two police cruisers arrived here to stop the family from entering the home. That's part of the conditions of this search warrant. And this morning, they arrived, at least a dozen people in white CSI suits in and out of the house all day, and a large team of people in the backyard using shovels and rakes to search an area behind the shed in the backyard.
Police won't tell us what exactly they're looking for, but it's been a thorough intense search, much different than previous times when we've seen police entire the home here, Erin.
BURNETT: Jim, were there any signs of the parents today? Or their new attorney, who as we just experienced, is obviously becoming eminently involved?
SPELLMAN: Ye, no. The parents have been staying at a family member's house a couple miles away, with this new attorney, Joe Tacopina, the high-powered New York attorney, worked on the Joran van der Sloot case. He showed up here the day before yesterday, made a dramatic press conference out in front of the home where they're staying, and then immediately flew back to New York to do some of the network morning shows yesterday. We're not sure where he is now.
It's the 11th day, Erin, that the family has refused to allow themselves to be interviewed by police, very antagonistic relationship going on there. Police would love to be able to interview them, use them as an asset in their searches, Erin.
BURNETT: And, Jim, any sense from anyone as to the consternation as to why there is no sign of the child, certainly no body? They have checked everywhere they possibly could have checked?
SPELLMAN: They have searched everywhere. But just adjacent to here, there's a woods that just goes on and on. I mean, at least a mile wide and we don't even know how deep we walk for a while. It's just vast area around here, and the more you walk, through the neighborhood, you see many ways that somebody could leave with a baby and just opens up in these huge areas.
So they have searched repeatedly. The local police, FBI, and even the National Guard over the weekend -- still no baby Lisa.
BURNETT: Jim, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
Jurors in the trial of the Conrad Murray trial watched a video of an actor pretending to suffer a heart attack while being given Propofol at a hospital. Now, in the video, doctors revived the pretend patient using equipment which was not available to Conrad Murray. And the anesthesiologist explained to jurors how he safely administers the drug.
Now, the witness was crucial to the state's case as it tries to prove that Jackson's death was caused by Dr. Murray's gross negligence.
We've also got new developments to tell you about in the abuse case in Philadelphia. A fourth suspect was arrested today in a case which is absolutely horrible. It involved four disabled people found locked in a boiler room of an apartment building. Police say the women rescued from the boiler claims she has two children while being held captive.
Four people, three men and a woman were found locked in a 15x6 foot space with no food, only a bucket for a toilet. Their captors were collecting their Social Security checks.
Tomorrow in OUTFRONT, we'll talk to former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. It's a real threat for me. I'm excited to see Pat again. He's out with a new book called "Suicide of a Superpower." Now, Pat, who are you talking about because it sure can't be the United States? pat will be our guest tomorrow.
And up next, Andy Borowitz comes OUTFRONT. Tell us about his new book, "The 50 Funniest American Writers." Plus, I had a little bit of fun with the old GOP field.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: This election season, things are so nasty that sometimes we need to smile at the ridiculousness of our candidates, even when they don't a laugh for themselves.
Andy Borowitz is the author of the new book, "The 50 Funniest American Writers." I keep saying it wrong. I spoke to him earlier. And before we got to the book, I asked him to a free association game about the GOP field and some of OUTFRONT's favorite world leaders. To tease, we begun with Mitt Romney.
ANDY BOROWITZ, AUTHOR: You'll throw out Mitt Romney, as many Republican voters seem to be doing as well. Mitt Romney, you know, my feeling about him is I don't think that he should be president. I think he should be president in a Vin Diesel movie. That's my view.
BURNETT: Where that does leave the man who he is in a dead heat with Mr. 9-9-9, Herman Cain? BOROWITZ: Herman Cain, the 9-9-9 thing does not concern me. That sounds awesome.
There are other numbers that concerned me. For example, this guy wants to be the president of the number one country in the world and his experience is running the number 8 pizza chain in that country. I think if we're going to have the pizza guy running the country, it should be somebody from a top tier pizza chain, maybe Papa John's Pizza.
BURNETT: OK. It's a very important distinction to make. What Rick Perry?
BOROWITZ: Rick Perry, you know, I like him. He's had this little dispute I guess with Herman Cain. You probably read that Herman Cain said something about building an electrified fence on the border with Mexico.
BURNETT: Barbed wire.
BOROWITZ: Something like that.
Rick Perry believes that there are perfectly good people to electrocute right here in this country. So, that's a little bit different.
BURNETT: All right. On the Democratic side, here's a pretty interesting thing. A serious stat before we get to the non-serious side.
BURNETT: CNN poll: 81 percent of Democrats want to renominate the president. But 18 percent want another candidate to run instead. Who would you nominate?
BOROWITZ: George Clooney. Clearly, he almost got to be president in that movie, "Ides for March." He was excellent.
He's excellent. He was sort of a liar, he was immoral and everything. But you know, it's such a dream boat.
BURNETT: All right. So we have a couple of friends out there. So, to Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin, the man who won't put on a shirt.
BOROWITZ: These are your friends?
BURNETT: These are our friends.
BOROWITZ: You got to get out more, Erin.
BURNETT: So, what do you think about our friends?
BOROWITZ: Well, I love them both. Berlusconi is such a crafty politician. You know, he's trying to take advantage of this whole unrest that's going on globally right now and he's starting this movement called "occupy my pants," and I think that's really going to take off. It's really going to be big.
BURNETT: This book, "The 50 Funniest American Writers." How did you get to this top list? And it does go back to the 1800s, Mark Twain.
BOROWITZ: You know, it was like putting together a play list on your iPod. I just thought, what are the 50 people that really make me laugh? There are some people that you have to have. You have to have Mark Twain, I think. You have to have David Sederas (ph). Dave Berry. You have to have the Onion.
But that is people I love, like Nora Ephron and Bernie Mac.
BURNETT: What do all these writers have in common? Obviously, it's popular. It's already a best seller?
BOROWITZ: It is a bestseller. I think what they have in common is that they are not dated, like Mark Twain is talking about politics in a way that we can relate to now. He has a piece in there which is he running for president and he says, before I run for president, I'm going to tell you all of the terrible things that I've done so the press doesn't find out about it later.
And, you know, you read these things stuff, and you think, wow, Mark Twain, if you were on twitter, you would be following him.
BURNETT: I am sure. I will add no comment at all.
Thank you so much. Appreciate your coming in.
BOROWITZ: Thanks a lot, Erin.
BURNETT: All right.
BURNETT: Thanks all of you for watching.
"ANDERSON COOPER" starts now.