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Campbell Brown

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launches; Hillary For Secretary of State?

Aired November 14, 2008 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And, as we said, lots of breaking news tonight.
Before we get to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama discussing the secretary of state's job, we're going to stay with our breaking news coverage of the shuttle Endeavour's climb into space.

It's the 126th space shuttle launch. We're going to continue watching for several more minutes until it is safely in orbit.

And go back now to space correspondent Miles O'Brien, who is with us from Cape Canaveral.

And, Miles, take it away and walk us all through, if you would, for viewers who are just now joining us what this mission is really all about.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, this is a mission about expanding the capability of the International Space Station.

The crew of seven is bringing up to the space station an additional bathroom, some sleeping quarters and a water purification system that will allow them to recycle all their waste water, making it possible for a six-person crew to get on that space station and finally do what it set out to do, which is perform some science in space.

I wanted to bring you, if I could, Janice Voss, astronaut who's flown on the space shuttle five times.

We're looking at pictures that come from on board the external fuel tank looking back at the orbiter as you see it make its way up, now six minutes after it left the launch pad here. Janice, at this junction, there's no returns, right? They have gone past all of their potential emergency return options, right?

JANICE VOSS, NASA ASTRONAUT: Coming back to the cape returns, right. There's overseas, of course.

O'BRIEN: Right. Right.

And, so, potentially, if they were to lose an engine here, what would happen gentleman, or would they go across the ocean or perhaps have a diminished orbit?

VOSS: We just hit the -- we just hit the where they could lose two engine, single engine across the ocean to Spain or France.

O'BRIEN: OK. OK. All right.

So, so far, this has gone off exactly as you would like. At this point, what's that crew feeling? What are they experiencing?

VOSS: Well, they're very focused on managing cutoff, because there's some thrust separation that happens. They have to make sure they get a clean separation from the external tank. So, they're watching that data.


Now, they will have an opportunity once their separation with the external fuel tank to take a look at it, although this is going to be in darkness. And so they won't have a great opportunity really to see what kind of debris might have come off that external fuel tank, right?

VOSS: That's correct. In this case, they won't get any good photography. That's right.

O'BRIEN: Right.

So -- but these pictures that you're seeing right now, while it's good for television, the engineers are going to need this data to make sure that something hasn't blown off. I haven't seen anything.

VOSS: Right.

O'BRIEN: But it's been difficult tonight in the darkness.

VOSS: That's right. They will go back through frame by frame. And where there's enough light glow from the flame that you will be able to see debris coming off the tank, if there is any.


O'BRIEN: Let's talk a word, as they make their way up to the space station, the significance of having a six-person crew for this $100 billion space station. What does that mean?

VOSS: The amount of time we have available to do science goes from hundreds of hours to thousands of hours. So, we can really take advantage of all the money we have invested in building this station to do some really first-class research.

O'BRIEN: Now, the crew will dock with the International Space Station on Sunday afternoon. As they're traveling 16,000 miles an hour, of course, there's no sensation of 16,000 miles an hour when you're in that position, right?

VOSS: Nope. You can't see anything flying by, especially in darkness.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're now about eight minutes and 15 seconds in. In about 10 or 15 seconds, you're going to see this camera move away from the orbiter Endeavour as this solid rocket -- excuse me -- as the external tank separation occurs.

The external tank ends up in the drink in the Indian Ocean. It's the one significant piece that isn't reused. What do we look -- OK. The engines have cut off and now we're watching the separation.

VOSS: There it goes. Yes.

O'BRIEN: And there's that picture there. That's quite a shot there, as you're seeing the belly, with those heat-resistant tiles and the orbiter moves away on their way...

VOSS: And you can see the thrusters firing, those flashes of the thrusters, the separation thrusters, moving it away.

O'BRIEN: That's quite a shot.

Endeavour on its way to the International Space Station, that external tank on its way to the Indian ocean.

Janice Voss, thank you for living through that experience. I'm sure if you had your way you would like to be on board there and on your way to the International Space Station, but that is quite a sight to see.


VOSS: It is. What a great way to spend a Friday night.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Janice -- and back to you, Campbell, in New York.

O'BRIEN: All right.

Our thanks to Miles O'Brien and to astronaut Janice Voss there, as Endeavour begins that 15-day mission off to a successful start. We wish them all the very best of luck.

And here on Earth, we have got a lot of breaking news tonight.

Bullet point number one, how does this sound, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? CNN has learned that president-elect Obama met with the senator and asked her if she is interested in the job. A number of Democratic Party sources are telling CNN she was left with the impression that, if she is interested, the job would be hers.

But does she want it? Well, so far, she's not saying.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I'm not going to speculate or address anything about the president-elect's incoming administration, and I'm going to respect his process. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Also tonight, alarming new developments in the nation's financial crisis.

Bullet point number two, a bailout for everyone? It started with banks. Then car companies got in line. Well, now we're taking it to a whole new level. Some of America's biggest insurance companies also want a bailout and now entire cities are getting in line asking taxpayers to bail them out, too.

Today, exasperated members of Congress had a blunt question for the guy who's supposed to be watching the money.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I'm trying to make sure you get it. You know? I mean, and you know what really bothers me, is because all these other people who are lined up. They say, well, is Kashkari a chump?


BROWN: That's Hank Paulson's deputy there being called a chump by a member of Congress.

Our Ali Velshi will be here in a moment to explain exactly what's going on and how it affects you.

Bullet point number three, walk like an Egyptian. We are talking about mummies. Yes, you heard right. One of the Supreme Court's most important free speech cases this year deals with people who believe in mummifying cat, dogs, and even people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It allows for a very smooth transition from this address, physical body, to their next destination.


BROWN: First, "Cutting Through the Bull," and tonight our "Cutting Through the Bull" is a Friday first, one we are thrilled to celebrate, the Pentagon's elite club. A four-star general welcomed a new member today. Check it out.


GEN. ANN E. DUNWOODY, FIRST FEMALE FOUR-STAR GENERAL: I'm honored to be joining your four-star bench of general officers, an extraordinary band of brothers, who have the responsibility of guiding our nation's Army and its incredible soldiers into the future.


BROWN: That particular band of brothers has welcomed its very first sister. Ann Dunwoody has become the first female four-star general in history.

In a year where we saw some very public battles to crack the glass ceiling in politics, Dunwoody quietly shattered the military's brass ceiling. Women make up only about 14 percent of the active-duty force, with an even smaller fraction at the top.

One male general was quoted as saying that, given Dunwoody's extraordinary accomplishments in the military, it's too bad that the focus with this promotion will be on her gender.

We do applaud her accomplishments. But when you are the first in the male-dominated world that is the military, that in and of itself is an accomplishment that we also think is still worth noting and celebrating.

General Dunwoody, congratulations to you.

When we come back: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a delicate dance, sources telling CNN that if Hillary Clinton wants to be secretary of state, the ball is in her court. Gloria Borger and Candy Crowley have been working the phones and they have new details for us.

And later, the inside story on Michelle Obama's visit to the White House this week. Check this out.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I showed her the closets. I showed her all of the things that women are interested in. But I didn't try to give her a lot of advice.


BROWN: Closets, that's really all we care about.

Also ahead: mummies, a pyramid, the Ten Commandments, and a critical case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.


BROWN: More breaking news tonight: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in an urgent but quiet bit of diplomacy.

Several Democratic Party sources tell CNN that the president- elect asked her a question that went something like this: "If I offered you the position, secretary of state, would you accept it?"

Our senior political analyst Gloria Borger has been working her sources on this story since it first broke earlier today.

And, Gloria, you have been working the phones. Is Hillary going to be the next secretary of state? What are you hearing?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think we have to stay tuned. Clearly, she believes according to those who are close to her that the job is hers if she wants it. What happened on Thursday, Campbell, was a really serious discussion, I was told, between these two people, in which Barack Obama was essentially trying to gauge her interest in the job of secretary of state.

I was told by one source close to the transition that this is something Barack Obama has been thinking of for quite some time. And so you know, when you're the president-elect, you don't offer somebody a job unless you're absolutely sure they're going to take it.

So, this was kind of a first step in Obama saying to her, well, if I offered this to you, would you be interested?

And lots of people around her now seem a lot more interested in having her go into the Cabinet than they did at the end of the election.

BROWN: So, what do you think she's going to do? Is there any hint at all about which way she may be leaning?

BORGER: If you talk to people who are around there, there's been a tremendous shift in tone, Campbell, from folks saying, no way is she going to go into this administration, to people saying, well, gee, I wonder what kind of job I could have in the State Department?

So, there has been a shift. I think there are complications. There are potential conflicts, for example, with her husband, the former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiatives. These are kinds of things that sources tell us have to be worked out if she were to assume this kind of a job.

But let me just say here that, remember, she's the junior senator from New York when she -- if she were to go back to the Senate. She's blocked in a lot of areas. She's not going to be running health care, something she cares very deeply about. So, this job, I would think, would look very attractive to her.

BROWN: Now, I know you're also hearing that president-elect Obama has spoken to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today about the job also.

BORGER: Right. Right. Possibly.

BROWN: Which one is the backup? Which one is the first choice?

BORGER: Well, I think that everything I'm hearing from both the Obama transition folks and the folks who are close to Hillary Clinton is that the ball is in her court. If she really were to want this job, I think it's very clear that she could have this job.

But Bill Richardson, former U.N. ambassador, has always been on the list. So has Senator John Kerry, very close to Obama, endorsed him, at some jeopardy, because he had been a Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in his career. So, I think there's a personal relationship there. I think they met today. And I think there are lots of things that Bill Richardson could do if he's not secretary of state.

BROWN: All right, Gloria Borger for us tonight -- Gloria, thanks much.

We want to bring in now three of the smartest political observers around. We have got "New York Daily News" columnist Errol Louis, also morning host at WWRL Radio in New York, Republican consultant Alex Castellanos, and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, who is in Chicago for us covering the Obama transition to power.

And, Candy, Barack Obama didn't even vet Hillary Clinton for vice president. Now, all of a sudden, she's emerged as his top pick for one of the most high-profile jobs in the administration. What are you hearing about sort of the debate they're probably having internally over pluses and minuses of him choosing her?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There certainly are pluses and minuses.

There's the idea that she might overshadow him, particularly overseas. She is very popular over there, as is he. However, he needs to focus on the economy. This would give him a strong presence overseas that could speak for an administration who is well-respected.

On the other hand, as Gloria pointed out, there are lots of sort of Bill Clinton things going on, global initiatives that he loves and is totally dedicated to. There's the matter of his library and who contributed to that. We are assuming that some foreign people did, in fact, contribute to that. Does that make it a conflict of interests for the secretary of state?

So, there are a number of things out there that argue against it, but, as you know, Barack Obama loves that Lincoln book "Team of Rivals," likes the concept of bringing everybody into the tent.

They are saying, listen, better to bring her in than have her in the Senate, sort of where you can make a lot of mischief in the Senate. And they think that it says a lot about Barack Obama. Far from feeling as though she would overshadow him, they think a selection of Hillary Clinton would show a very competent president who understands who's in charge.

BROWN: Errol, just to Candy's point, he talked to death this idea of Doris Kearns Goodwin' book "Team of Rivals" about trying to do what Lincoln did in bringing his rivals into the Cabinet. Is he walking the walk here?

ERROL LOUIS, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think he is. And I think it's a good idea, actually.

If you look at Cabinet secretaries that don't have what Clinton has, not just star power, but connections throughout the bureaucracy, a lot of personal power, a lot of personal regard, it's easier for her to get things done. And if he wants strong people around him, so that it's not all falling back on the White House staff, then that's what you want to do.

And you have got to be able to manage it, of course. But just as Bush had a Donald Rumsfeld, somebody who has got a lot of history, a lot of power, you can turn them loose. And for better or worse, they're going to implement some policies.

BROWN: Better or worse being the key word there...

LOUIS: Exactly right.

BROWN: ... in connection with Donald Rumsfeld, maybe.

But, Alex, Hillary Clinton was really tough on Obama in the primaries on foreign policy, because so much of the focus in the primaries, we forget, was on foreign policy, not on the economy. Are those words -- we're going to hear them replayed -- her criticism of him, are they going to come back to haunt her in some form?


BROWN: For him?

CASTELLANOS: ... but not from Republicans, interestingly enough. A lot of Republicans are going to agree with Errol.

Hillary Clinton ran during the primaries to the right. She ran a very Republican campaign. And a lot of Republicans I think would be more comfortable with Hillary Clinton answering the phone at 3:00 a.m. in case of a foreign policy crisis than our young president.

And so I think, actually, Republicans will lend surprising support to this. But we should also note that there's a political aspect to this. This is a political power play. Right now, the Democratic Party is divided, Clinton wing, Obama wing.

Barack Obama by doing this could unite the Democratic Party and make it all Barack Obama party, which I think is what he's trying to do for the longer term. Smart political move.

BROWN: Let me go back, Candy, to a point you made a second ago, too. You mentioned Bill Clinton and possible conflicts, given his role internationally and some of his relationships internationally.

But you also just have his presence, you know, which was always an issue when she was discussed as a possible vice presidential candidate. Are they talking about that? What are they thinking?

CROWLEY: Absolutely that is a consideration.

And we should mention that none of these foreign contacts that Bill Clinton has, there's nothing wrong with them. It's just, if your wife is secretary of state, there does seem to be a conflict of interests. If you're overseas giving a speech to an international group when you're getting $100,000 for it, well, you know, how does that all work?

He does have enormous contacts with all of these heads of state. So, if he goes into see a head of state, do they say, listen, what does the secretary of state think about this or that? So, there's a huge potential out there.

But I think, in terms of the marquee name, Alex hits on it. And, again, they believe that this selection, though they didn't -- had huge problems obviously bringing her in as the vice president, that now that he is president-elect, he's confident in the fact that he's the guy that runs the show. And I think that goes for Hillary Clinton and it goes for Bill Clinton.

BROWN: Right.

Do you think Bill Clinton's going to be a problem?

LOUIS: Oh, no, I don't think so at all. Look, they're a matched pair.

BROWN: Famous last words.



LOUIS: Listen, it's always been a two-for-one deal with them. And they want power and they want the influence more than they want anything.

They're wealthy enough. He can give up a few of these $100,000 speeches, I think.

CASTELLANOS: Discipline has always been Bill Clinton's strength, as we know. So, I'm sure he will be very well-behaved.



CASTELLANOS: The other final point -- we're out of time here, but Senator McCain is meeting with Barack Obama on Monday in Chicago.

Very quickly, Alex, is he going to join the team of rivals?

CASTELLANOS: It's a little bit like the all-star game right now. It's fun to watch, but it doesn't really count in the standings.

I think Barack Obama doesn't really need to reach out to Republicans that much. He picked Rahm Emanuel to help him manage Democrats. He could have him on the Cabinet. It might happen. But the real thing to watch is, what does Obama do with the Democrats in Congress?

BROWN: All right.

Thanks, guys. Errol, Alex, Candy, and of course Gloria Borger from earlier, appreciate it. Thanks, everybody.

Coming up next, we are talking to the man known in Washington as the Hammer. We will get the Republican perspective, beyond Alex here. We will ask former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay how he would feel if Hillary Clinton becomes secretary of state. We will also ask him if he stands by his pretty harsh description of Barack Obama. He called him a Marxist and a radical who wants to shred the Constitution.

Then, a little bit later, how mummified dogs, cats, even people, are all tied to an important free speech case now before the Supreme Court. We will explain.


BROWN: Can an entire political party have post-traumatic stress disorder? Well, maybe not, but surely the Republicans have got to be pretty close after last week's election results. So, what do they do now?

One many one Republicans offering ideas if former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, known as the Hammer before he was forced out of office in 2006.

He's joining us right now.

Welcome to you, Congressman.

TOM DELAY (R), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you, Campbell. It's great to be with you.

BROWN: Well, right off the bat, let me ask you, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, what do you think?

DELAY: Very smart move, I have got to tell you.

BROWN: Really?

DELAY: Obama is making a lot of smart moves. I'm very impressed.

BROWN: Why do you think it's a smart move?

DELAY: Rahm Emanuel was a great move.

Hillary Clinton -- first of all, it's going to make the American people feel a lot more comfortable, because they don't know what Obama is, or who he is, when it comes to foreign policy. All they have is his rhetoric. And they know Hillary Clinton. And she's to the right of Obama. She's tougher than Obama. She has exhibited that in the war on terror and leading up to the Iraq war and Afghanistan.

So, I think it's a very smart move. And, politically, it's a smart move. I think somebody said earlier in your segment that it unites the party. That scares Republicans like us with a united Democrat Party. (LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Let me ask you, you called Barack Obama, our president- elect, a Marxist and a radical who wants to shred the Constitution. Now that it's all over, you stand by that?

DELAY: Sure, until he proves me wrong. He said it. I didn't. He said that the Constitution is just a bunch of negative rights, and that it doesn't spell out what the government should do on your behalf. That's a quote from him, and that he wants to rewrite the Constitution.

BROWN: So, are you scared that he's now president, or president- elect?

DELAY: No. No, I'm not scared. Actually, I think he is a real liberal, at the very least. The American people are going to see that -- what real liberalism can do to this country in a very short period of time, and I think that bodes well for conservatives.

BROWN: But why is it, then -- if you believe all that, why didn't people get that? Because, , a majority of American voters supported him and they think he's the right person to steer the economy.

DELAY: Well, I don't think that's the case.

I think there's many reasons how and why Obama won, not the least of which he had such an incredible organization. And then, when Hillary Clinton stepped out of the race, he inherited most of her organization. And it was so well-funded and so well-coordinated, they were able to drive a message that says nothing, except change.

And then you have John McCain, who people just didn't want to vote for him. And the race came down to whether you're going to vote for or against Obama.

BROWN: So, was that it? The Republican Party got whipped. You said it yourself.


BROWN: Define it. What went wrong?

DELAY: Well, the Republican Party has been for the last three years in disarray, lack of leadership, leaders that can energize and mobilize people.

We have -- the conservative movement in the Republican Party has nowhere near the organizational strengths that the left and the Democrats have. We have got a lot of building to do, both in our organization and in our leadership and in our donors. We were outspent 3-1. You go down into the House races and the Senate races, we were outspent 10-1 in some cases.

BROWN: But it does seem that you guys have a difference of opinion internally over how to go forward. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, rising star in the party, spoke at the Republican governors conference yesterday.

And he said -- quote -- "We lost our way on spending, corruption, earmarks, on all the things. And that is true."

And yet you were one of the party's main architects over the last 10 years. So, all this happened on your watch.

DELAY: I'm sorry. It happened after I left.


DELAY: I left in 2006, and -- and not because of me.

BROWN: It all went downhill from 2006 on?

DELAY: 2006 is when it started falling apart, and it got worse in 2007 and in 2008.

BROWN: But, you know, in 2006, Democrats turned you and Jack Abramoff into the poster children for what they called this Republican culture of corruption. And that seemed to sink in with voters.

DELAY: Listen, I went through 12 years of demonization by the Democrats, ethics charges after ethics charges all dismissed as frivolous. I even had a racketeering suit filed against me. It was dismissed as frivolous.

And you're right. They demonized me and ultimately indicted me on laws that don't even exist in Texas. So, yes, it was a concerted political strategy, frankly, announced by the Democrats publicly, that they were going to create this demonization. And that's part of what they are now. It's part of the political paradigm. It's no longer just the politics of personal destruction. It's now the politics of criminalization.

And they're very good at it. And the Republicans really are bad at it.

BROWN: All right. Well, we will see what happens, as you say, a lot of work to do going forward for the Republican Party, for sure.

Tom DeLay, we appreciate your time tonight. Thanks for being with us.

DELAY: My pleasure, Campbell.

BROWN: Coming up, it is as if "Harry Potter" meets "Back to the Future" -- modern mummies, Moses and the Ten Commandments. The highest court takes on a legal battle that could change the country.

Also, when we come back, more banks, insurance companies, and now -- we are serious here -- entire cities -- that's right, cities -- are in line urgently asking for their piece of that huge taxpayer bailout.

We will tell you what's going on.



REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: Mr. Kashkari, in the neighborhood I grew up in, in the city Baltimore, one of the things that you tried to do was make sure that you were not considered a chump. I'm trying to make sure you get it. You know? I mean, and you know what?

What really bothers me -- it's all these other people who are lined up. They say, well, is Kashkari is chump?


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: That is Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings asking how companies like failed insurance giant, AIG, can keep asking for bailout money from the government and still its top people, $503 million in bonuses?

For the record, Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari, the interim director of the bail has said he's frustrated about. Though at today's hearings, he didn't respond directly to the chump remark.

First it was Wall Street then, came the auto industry. Now you won't believe who's going to the federal government asking for a handout. Today the mayors of three major cities, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Phoenix, sent a letter to the Treasury Department asking for $50 billion in aid.

Ali Velshi is with me now. And Ali, I know you've been working on this story all day. You can't help but ask. Is there anybody basically who's not being asked to be bailed out at the moment?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm preparing the Campbell Brown/Ali Velshi application for relief after the Troubled Asset Relief Program. I'm actually very interested in Neel Kashkari not being thought of as a chump because he looks remarkably like me. So I don't want people thinking that I'm a chump.

The mayors of Philadelphia, Phoenix and Atlanta, in fact the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter went to Treasury today and he delivered a letter. And in that letter, they are asking for $50 billion for America's cities; unclear as to how many cities and how it's going to be split up.

But in the letter it says, "Cities will disproportionately bear the brunt of the credit crisis unless the federal government steps to assist us." Now this is unusual because typically when cities run into budget problems -- which often do -- they cut services, they raise taxes, they raise property taxes, they go to the state or they issue bonds. It's very unusual for them to go right to the federal government.

Take a look at what happened and they have a good argument. This is what happens to cities when there are tax problems. Cities get revenue from homeowners, they get revenues from businesses and people who support those businesses are being laid off from their jobs. So homes are being foreclosed upon; they're not getting property taxes. People are getting laid off, so those businesses are not able to survive in many cases.

All the money from these places goes to a city. Now, so they're obviously getting less money as a result of the foreclosures and the job losses. The effect of that is on city services, so fewer buses, fewer police officers, less, fewer services in terms of garbage or fire, ambulance, things like that.

They are desperate for money and in some ways getting money for cities feels a little closer to home than perhaps money that's been going to banks -- Campbell.

BROWN: Ali, I want you to remember this. I know you will. We dug this up today. It's the infamous New York daily news cover from October 30, 1975. New York City asks for a federal bailout and President Ford, just as the headline says, denied the city bailout. Is this a little of deja vu? Are we going to see this happen again here?

VELSHI: Yes, well, New York City also has budget troubles; part of the reason why Mayor Bloomberg sought a mandate to run a third time. We don't know whether New York's involved in this. We heard Chicago might be interested, Detroit has already asked for a bailout. It's entirely possible major cities could be adding their names to this list.

Michael Nutter of Philadelphia says other cities are welcome to join. We could be seeing more of this -- Campbell.

BROWN: Ali Velshi for us tonight. As always, Ali, thanks.

Still ahead, everybody, mummies. We are not kidding. Not ancient mummies, either, but new one. Throw in religion, free speech and the Supreme Court and only Jeff Toobin can sort this one out.

We're also going to throw in a PDB at no extra charge including the dish on Barack Obama's favorite pizza.


BROWN: Coming up, the Supreme Court hears an incredible case involving Moses and mummies. What is that all about?

But first, Randi Kaye is with us again for "The Briefing" -- Randi.


Late word from California; one death is being blamed on a wildfire that burned close to 200 homes there. The fire is still out of control in Montecito; homes of celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Rob Lowe. More than 1,000 firefighters are dealing with a wall of flames and winds gusting to 70 miles an hour. 13 people have been hurt. In Santa Clara, California, three people have been killed five wounded in an office park shooting. Two men and a woman were found dead inside an office. Right now officers are combing the area looking for any suspects.

India is now the fourth country to land on the moon. A lunar probe landed successfully today; it is now sending pictures back to earth. India's space agency hopes to map the entire moon surface and what lies beneath it as well. Pretty cool.

BROWN: Yes, very cool. Randi Kaye for us tonight. Have a good weekend.

KAYE: Thank you. You, too.

BROWN: Coming up next, the religious group that believes in turning deceased loved ones and pets into mummies. You may think it's bizarre but the Supreme Court is very interested in these guys, right after the break.


BROWN: Stay with us here.

Mummies, not ancient Egypt but new ones, Utah and freedom of religion; believe it or not, they all come together in a landmark case that the Supreme Court is now considering. It's getting stranger still and it's the story we've all been talking about here today.

Gary Tuchman went to Utah to guide us through it.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ron Temu (ph) knows what's he's doing right now is very out of the ordinary.

RON TEMU: The process takes approximately six months.

TUCMAN: Temu was turning a dead cat into a mummy. He's a member of a church that will do the same thing for your pet, or even you when you die, if you so desire.

TEMU: It allows for a very smooth transition from this address, physical body, to their next destination.

TUCHMAN: Ron Temu and Sue Meni believe mummifying makes reincarnation easier. Reincarnation is one of their faith's beliefs.

SUE MENI, BELIEVES IN REINCARNATION: The name of our organization is Summum.

TUCHMAN: The Summum are at the center of a high-stakes legal battle because the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding if their free speech rights have been trampled. Most of their speaking is done in Salt Lake City where Summums worship in a 27-foot tall Egyptian-style pyramid.

MENI: The difference is not much between the known and unknown.

TUCHMAN: Inside their sanctuary, other mummified cats like Vincent, Oscar and Smoky and over here Wendy the dog. The man who founded the religion, Corky Ra, died in January. That's him. He is now a mummy, too.

The Summums say they believe in tolerance, in preaching the best of all religions.

MENI: Happiness or sorrow --

TUCHMAN: And as unusual as you may feel these people are --

TEMU: It's not for everybody.

TUCHMAN: They are being taken very seriously by the highest court in the land. Their case just heard by the U.S. Supreme Court involves a city's stop their pyramid, Pleasant Grove, Utah. In one of the city's parks, a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The Summum's lawsuit deals with that. Moses in Mount Sinai.

MENI: It says in the bible that he made two trips. The first set of tablets he brought down he broke.

TUCHMAN: And they believe the broken tablets listed what they call the Seven Aphorisms.

The Seven Aphorisms: the principle of psychokinesis, the principle of correspondence, the principle of vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, gender. It's much easier to understand the Ten Commandments; they're a little more direct. Right?

They seem hard to understand.

TEMU: True. That's why Moses brought down the Ten Commandments.

TUCHMAN: So with the hope of publicizing their aphorisms, the Summums decided they wanted to build an aphorism monument in the Pleasant Grove Park. But the city said, "No thanks."

FRANK MILLS, PLEASANT GROVE CITY ADMINISTRATOR: The purpose of the park is to honor the heritage of our community.

TUCHMAN: A federal court ruled in favor of the Summums on free speech grounds before the Supreme Court decided to take the case.

If the U.S. Supreme court rules against Pleasant Grove, there still might be a way for the town to keep the Seven Aphorisms out and that is to take the Ten Commandments out.

MILLS: There's a possibility it could get moved to another location, on someone else's on a piece of private property or something like that.

TUCHMAN: City officials say it's not a religious issue rather it's the right to choose what civic items to display in their public areas. TEMU: We simply would like to put our religious statement next to it because we feel it complements it.

TUCHMAN: So they await a decision that could change life in their pyramid and the nation outside it.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Salt Lake City.


BROWN: The justices are expected to announce a decision next spring, and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here to brief us on this.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's a pretty great case. Don't you think? It's just --

BROWN: It's one for the books. All right. It's a little wacky, but you actually think that the Summums have a pretty good legal case. Don't they?

TOOBIN: The justices at the argument were actually having a great time with this case, because it's actually a lot harder than it seems. The Summum's argument is pretty straight forward which is basically, if you allow one religion access to public space, you have to allow all religions. And that's actually a pretty good argument.

So what the city has argued is that those Ten Commandments are not actually a religious display. They are about the pioneer spirit. They are a civic memorial, and a city has a lot more discretion to choose what civic memorials it wants.

For example, they could honor John F. Kennedy, they could honor Ronald Reagan. They don't have to give equal time to a civic memorial in the way that they do have to give equal time in a religious setting.

BROWN: So given how you just laid it out, it actually does sound like Summum have a pretty good case.

TOOBIN: They do, they won in the lower court so it couldn't be that. I actually think based on the questions the justices were asking, Summums are probably going to lose. They are going to basically say you can't force an unwilling city to take a religious symbol like this when it's arguably not a religious setting.

But it's a hard case.

BROWN: To that point, though, let me just point out for our viewers, Justice Scalia wondered during the argument if the city allows any kind of memorial in public land would also have to permit a monument to chocolate chip cookies.

TOOBIN: And that's the point he was making.

BROWN: In his view, ridiculous.

TOOBIN: Ridiculous that once a city picks the kind of memorial it wants, you can't force them to pick others. But it's a hard case.

BROWN: Stay on this one for us.

TOOBIN: Well, I'm all over Summum. I'm all over it.

BROWN: Jeffrey Toobin, of course. Good night. Have a great weekend.

TOOBIN: You, too.

BROWN: Up next, it's the hottest ticket in Washington if not around the country. But is a package deal for the inauguration worth $50,000? If you have money to burn, we'll tell what you can get, when we come back.


BROWN: It is time for "Welcome to the White House" our nightly feature on all things Obama, from the president-elect's favorite pizza to a star turn for future the first lady. We've got all the latest.

Erica Hill is here to fill us in.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I always feel like it's a game show when we say welcome to the White House. What have you won tonight? Step on up to plate, Obama's because as Barack Obama keeps reminding us, he may not be president yet, but things in his hometown of Chicago, certainly looking presidential these days.

There are the motorcades, the Secret Service, the bomb-sniffing dogs. Chicagoans are making the best of it, though; hopefully for them making a buck too. On its Website, the city's convention and tourism bureau lists restaurants and shops where you just might catch a glimpse of the president-elect.

The restaurants are also getting in on the act themselves. The waiters at Medici on 57th Street wear t-shirts that read, "Obama eats here." If you've got a craving for an Obama approved slice, look no further than Italian Fiesta in Hyde Park. It's a spicy sauce thin crust pizza, which of course, is not a traditional Chicago pie. But that's all right. It's going to be featured at an event in Washington previewing the food at the inauguration.

And in Washington, with just 67 days to go -- because I know you're counting -- the nation's capital has a raging case of Obama fever. As we told you last night, everybody who is anybody is scrambling for the hottest ticket in town.

Well, tonight you have another option. D.C.'s Ritz Carlton has really outdone itself. This is what it called the politically correct package. For a cool $50,000, you'll get four nights in a luxury suite, a 24-hour chauffeur, driving a hybrid vehicle, by the way, a diamond studded inaugural necklace and shopping spree at Saks Fifth Avenue.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Wonder if Sarah Palin is interested? HILL: Yes, with you own vice presidential candidate. In the meantime, the current First Lady is dishing to CNN about her meeting with the future First Lady earlier this week. Take a look.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We talked more about, really, making the White House a home for a family, and what I know from having lived here and from visiting my mother-in-law when she made these family a home and from reading about all the other families that have lived here is this house really can be a home. And I know that they'll make it that way for their little girls.


HILL: Michelle Obama of course, has said her number one job will be First Mom. She neither had to juggle a photo shoot or two with those parent conferences. Women's Wear Daily reporting that "Vogue" is lobbying for a Michelle Obama cover sometime this spring. The last First Lady to grace the cover for a magazine is Hillary Clinton, in December of 1998.

And Campbell, I cannot leave you tonight without a little news of the future first dog.

BROWN: The dog news?

HILL: Obviously.

BROWN: Thank you.

HILL: That's what I'm here for. With the nation breathlessly awaiting news of the Obama family's choice for a dog, Milk Bone now pledging a lifetime supply of dog biscuits for Sasha and Malia's new puppy.

BROWN: Everybody wants a piece of the action.

HILL: Anything they can get.

BROWN: All right, Erica Hill of course, Erica thanks. Have a good weekend.

HILL: You too.

BROWN: And coming up, he is, our PDB. He is back. You thought you had seen the last of Joe the Plumber, you did. But his career has not yet gone down the drain. We'll tell you what he is up to.


BROWN: Right after us tonight, as always, "Larry King Live." Joy Behar is sitting in for Larry, tonight, welcome Joy. What have you got?

JOY BEHAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Campbell, how are you? BROWN: Good.

BEHAR: Well, we've got a very spirited hour ahead. Gay marriage, whose business is it? Voters across the country say it's theirs.

We'll talk to both sides of this very volatile issue, which could blow up even bigger with demonstrations this weekend.

And more on that breaking story -- is Hillary Clinton going to be the next Secretary of State. We'll join the buzz on the big news tonight, next on "Larry King Live."

BROWN: All right. Joy, we'll see you in a few minutes. We'll be watching.


BROWN: Still to come tonight, John McCain and Barack Obama gearing up for their first post-election sit-down. We've got all the details in our PDB. And you won't want to miss the lame duck dog in our puppy powered bull's eye.

We'll be right back.


BROWN: We promised you a "Political Daily Briefing" and a promise is a promise. In these parts Tom Foreman has tonight's PDB. And Tom, let's start with Monday's meetings scheduled between President-elect Obama and Senator John McCain. What do we know?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know we're probably going to see them shake hands and make nice in both of their interests. Because Obama has suggested that he wants an inclusive and diverse government which could include Republicans, and Independents. And McCain if only as an ally could help on both of those and he works pretty well with Democrats.

McCain could get something out of this, too, because obviously a lot of Republicans aren't too happy with his campaign; some of them whispering that he led his party down. So this might not be a bad time for him to have a friend in a high place, even if that friend's a Democrat -- Campbell.

BROWN: And inauguration tickets are the hot item. I understand Ralph Nader thinks that he deserves one. Along with the other third party candidates who competed against Obama and McCain, and it was a tight race. But I mean, come on. What are the chances? That they're going to be brought into the fold here?

FOREMAN: Yes, the chances, I'm going to with not too good. Here's a hint, if you want to have a seat at the inauguration, here's the real ticket. Win. Only about a quarter million tickets are being issued for the swearing in and like you said they're very, very hot.

Congressional offices are buried in requests. And if you think about it, there are a lot of pretty big political names who might want to be there.

Larry King asked Sarah Palin about it. Listen.


GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) ALASKA: I haven't been invited. It would be something perhaps if I'm not too busy up there in the state of Alaska, I'd love to.


FOREMAN: Yes. Well, police expect about a million and a half people will not be too busy up in Alaska or anywhere else and they'll show up for the parade. I'm sure they'll make some room along the route for Mr. Nader, if he can't get a chair, Campbell.

BROWN: Squeeze in like the regular folks. And finally tonight, Tom, even though the election is over, Joe the Plumber will not go away. What is he up to now?

FOREMAN: Yes, like everyone else in politics, he's got a book deal. I don't think you can live in D.C. without a book deal these days and he's also plunging into the publishing game on December 1st when his book comes out, releasing an account of his adventures on the campaign trail.

He also has the water running at his new website. If you sign up as a freedom member, you can chat with him, get free shipping on Joe the Plumber chatsky (ph), a newsletter and signed copy of his book, all in time for the holidays. Just thinking about that, Campbell, I just get all flush.

BROWN: Tom Foreman. Tom, thanks you have a great weekend.

FOREMAN: You, too.

BROWN: Tonight, it is our third straight puppy powered bull's eye. And I swear this is the last one. And we begin with the final White House video from Barney the lame duck dog, courtesy of our pals at Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big deal. So there's going to be a new top dog at the White House.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see how this is going to go. The new President all young and big ears full of hope. The press will need to talk.

OBAMA: A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'll just be a washed up historical footnote. Americans will conveniently forget how they once adored me, too.


BROWN: And that brings us to the perfect way to usher in the weekend. And you know where I'm going with this; puppy cam. That's right, we can't get enough of them; our favorite TV, new pups from the folks at Enjoy.

That's it for tonight. Have a great weekend. We're going home and sleep like they are.

"Larry King Live" with Joy Behar starts right now.