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Campbell Brown

Cash for Clunkers Success; Long, Hot Summer For Congress

Aired August 03, 2009 - 20:00   ET



CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we want answered.

What turned a routine Continental Airlines flight into a brush with death today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I was on a roller coaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen, like, turbulence like that. I really thought we wouldn't make it.

BROWN: Pictures from inside the plane.

And Americans love cash for clunkers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a great idea. We need the fuel-efficiency. We need the lowered emissions, everything. And I think it's great for the car industry right now.

BROWN: So, why are some Republicans trying to put the brakes on the program?

Plus, voters gone wild. Are members of Congress afraid to face the folks back home angry about the economy and health care?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: They're likely to have a very, very hot summer.

BROWN: Also, how should kids be punished for illegally downloading music? We will talk to one college student who is being forced to pay $675,000 to the recording industry. Is it too big a price, or are musicians finally getting their fair share?

And Ryan O'Neal's shocking behavior at Farrah Fawcett's funeral. He says he hit on his own daughter after putting the casket in the hearse -- the in-depth interview.


ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. Here's Campbell Brown.

BROWN: Hi, everybody. Those are our big questions tonight.

But we start, as we always do, with the "Mash-Up." It is of course our look at all the stories making an impact right now, the moments you may have missed today. We're watching it all so you don't have to.

The White House tonight struggling to put out a political brushfire set by the president's own top moneymen, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and chief economic adviser Larry Summers on their Sunday shows yesterday refusing to rule out a middle-class tax hike, something the president himself has ruled out many times.

Read their lips.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: What the country needs to do is understand we're going to have to do what it takes. We're going to do what's necessary.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: It's never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what.


BROWN: Definitely off message. And reaction was swift. Here's the view now from the right and the view from the left from "The View."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point you need a promise czar to go back and look back at the promises that were made during the campaign and examine them, and say, look, this is something that our president promised us. He said our taxes would not go up a single dime.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": There's no way you can do all the things you want to do without raising taxes. It's just the way it is.


BROWN: Not the conversation the White House wants to be having right now.

So, this afternoon Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on message, trying to shut it down.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's clear commitment is not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year. He's not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year. The president's commitment on this is clear. The president has been clear on this. The president has been clear about his commitment. Clear commitment. Clear commitment. Clear commitment.

The president was clear. He made a commitment. That commitment stands. The president made a commitment in the campaign. He's clear about that commitment. And he's going to keep it. I don't know how much more clear about the commitment I can be.


BROWN: Still, Geithner's comments a gold mine for Republicans, who wasted no time blasting them around the Internet today.

Some terrifying moments high above the earth, a nightmare of a plane trip, but the passengers lived to tell the tale. Listen.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, HOST, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": It's why the captain always says we ask that you keep your seat belts fastened at all times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Houston when it made an emergency landing in Miami this morning after experiencing violent turbulence, dozens of people injured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I was on a roller coaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was scared, all the people so scared.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: At least four people aboard were seriously hurt. I'm talking passengers flying up and hitting the ceiling, getting knocked unconscious by flying debris.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hit my head on the light above, and it broke the light out, and was showered in glass. And I was lucky, though. There were people on there whose faces were cut up. It was terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somewhere in here, it just experienced a considerable drop in altitude, like it just hit a hole in the air. This must have been something called clear air turbulence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passengers say, without warning, the plane violently jolted up and then dropped. Photos taken on board by one passenger show how in some cases heads smashed into the ceiling, breaking the plastic.


BROWN: And as you heard the passengers say there, the turbulence just coming out of the blue, with no warning whatsoever.

In Afghanistan, six American troops killed over the weekend, July now the deadliest month of that war.

And, tonight, a moving image of Marines searching for faith. This was captured by "The Washington Post." Check it out.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in your profession, in Jesus Christ, I baptize you my brother in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: There's symbolism to this. There's a lot to say about this, first of all, the fact that that's taking place literally in a combat zone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going through a lot personally. They are in very dangerous situations. And this one found solace in this religious ceremony.


BROWN: That was Lance Corporal Zachary Ludwig you saw being baptized there, 20 years old from Marco Island, Florida.

And some amazing pictures from Turkey tonight, a planned construction implosion gone horribly wrong.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: You're almost guaranteed to have a better day of work Monday than this demolition team in Turkey over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A building in Turkey was dancing to a different tune this weekend, less ballet, more rock 'n' roll perhaps. As you can see, it just fell over in one big piece.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aye yi, yi, narrowly missing an apartment. The remarkable thing is that no one was hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the remarkable thing is how well that building was built. That thing just stayed together like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going down, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine if you're standing on that balcony.

This isn't good. This isn't good. Oh, no, we're OK.


BROWN: A building -- the building, rather, a former flower factory, soon to be a shopping mall.

Over in Jackson world, a big win today for the pop star mother's, Katherine, but without a heavy dose of drama.


CHARLES GIBSON, ABC NEWS: Today, a judge in Los Angeles approved Katherine Jackson's guardianship petition. The judge also awarded her a monthly allowance for raising the children, but the amount was not revealed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawyers for Jackson's dermatologist making an appearance, saying Dr. Arnold Klein wants to be involved in the children's lives.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's been a lot of talk whether or not Dr. Arnie Klein may actually be the biological father of these two children. He has said that to his knowledge he's not the father, but he does admit that he did once donate sperm. He told that to CNN, so he's really unclear at this point. The judge told his lawyer that he could not have a say.


BROWN: And probably not the end of that story.

And that does bring us to the punchline, courtesy of Conan O'Brien taking a shot at the gift that keeps on giving, the Snuggie.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": A company has begun selling a version of the popular infomercial blanket the Snuggie. You know the Snuggie? They have started selling a version of it that is made just for dogs, a Snuggie just for dogs, yes.

Yes, it's the perfect way to tell your dog, I have already taken your testicles; now I'm taking your dignity.



BROWN: And there actually is a Snuggie for dogs out there. Check it out. Let's see. Never too soon to start your holiday shopping, folks.

And that is the "Mash-Up."

The big question tonight, should we pay more cash for clunkers? The wildly successful program has been a big boon for car dealers. So, why do some Republicans want it to stop there?

Plus, listen to this, two new pieces of music from Mozart. We have the tracks. Listen.


BROWN: Well, you can say this for President Obama's cash for clunkers program. It has been a big hit with consumers -- maybe too big.


GIBSON: The government creates a cash for clunkers program and the whole auto industry feels a new burst of energy. KATIE COURIC, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Detroit's Big Three today reported their sales numbers for July. Ford posted the biggest improvement over June, with showroom sales up 27 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, more than 120,000 people have traded in old gas guzzlers like this for smaller, new fuel-efficient models, often small cars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's clunkers chaos in Washington. The popular program has revved up auto sales, but now it's broke. Will the Senate step in to give it a jump-start?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Initial pool for rebates to trade in gas guzzlers was $1 billion. The Obama administration says it will end the program next week if they don't get more money.


BROWN: All right. So, the House voted to extend cash for clunkers, but some senators balking because of the cost.

Joining me now right now to talk about this, Geoff Pohanka, who is president of the Washington, D.C., area's Pohanka Automotive Group. He's a former director of the National Automobile Dealers Association. also Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, who voted against extending cash for clunkers.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

And, Geoff, let me start with you.

I know you have got about 15 dealerships. Give us a sense of what this program has been like for you, how it's changed your life at the dealerships over the last week or so.

GEOFF POHANKA, PRESIDENT, POHANKA AUTO GROUP: Well, there are a lot of stimulation programs out there that Congress has done, but this one -- I haven't really felt the impact of those. This one, I'm feeling.

It's really brought a lot of customers into the dealership. Our dealerships have done about over 300 of these so far. Customers are very excited about the program. I'm excited. The auto industry is one of the pillars of our economy. As you know, have been on our knees. Car sales have been down about 35 percent. And this is having the stimulative effect that was intended.

BROWN: But, beyond that -- OK, so it's been really good so far. But beyond that, why do you need another $2 billion on top of what's already been put into it?

POHANKA: Well, that's a good question.

This program is not new. It has been used in Europe, and South America and China, and it's worked everywhere it's been put in. And the idea is to try to get our industry going again, stimulation. And it's working. Now, the original intent was to spend $5 billion on the program, but only a billion dollars was allocated.

And, certainly, that's going to do so much. It will sell -- it will result in about 250,000 unit sales. The original intent was 1.25 million quarter sales. So, basically, the program was only funded 20 percent of the originally intended. As such, it's gotten cash- starved, especially because consumers have really embraced this program.

BROWN: Right.

So -- so, to that point, Congressman Franks, I mean, you -- you heard what Geoff just said. In addition to that, look at it more big picture. Ford Motor Company saying that their sales shot up 60 percent in July. Isn't this what we wanted, to help the automobile industry, to boost the economy?

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: Look, Campbell, the reality is, though, the money that it takes -- it took to finance this came out of other people's pockets. And that impacted the rest of the economy.

When this country was first began, a guy named Fred Bastiat said government is that great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else. It shouldn't surprise us that the automobile is glad to see this. And I think there have been some positive elements of it. But the bottom line is, this has hurt the poorest of the poor more than it's hurt anyone.

BROWN: But how? Explain that.


BROWN: How are the poorest of the poor being hurt by this program?

FRANKS: Well, most of the poor people, the really poor people, that couldn't even take advantage of this, were dependent upon used vehicles. And this has caused used vehicles to rise in price, and some of the parts that other used vehicles were used to be able to buy say at a junkyard or something like that, the used vehicles now are coming at a premium, and it's hurting the poorest of all the poor.

And the bottom line is, the entire program comes at the expense of the rest of the economy. Any time government gets in the middle of this, they choose winners and losers. And the Constitution said that we have the power to regulate commerce, but it didn't say that we should be the biggest participant in it.

And always the same happens when government gets involved. It ends up discombobulating the economy and hurting some of the people that it was ostensibly meant to help.

BROWN: But, as you certainly know, Congressman, government is involved in the economy, for better or worse, in a million different ways right now.

FRANKS: For worse. BROWN: But let me ask you about some of the other arguments the Obama administration puts out, which is that there are long-term benefits to this, the effect it will have on the environment by forcing people or incentivizing people to buy -- to stop buying these gas guzzlers, and also lessening our dependence overall on foreign oil.

Is there any benefit beyond the immediate?


BROWN: Go ahead.

FRANKS: I am strongly committed to lessening our dependence on foreign oil. I have worked very hard to see us be able to drill more of our own oil, so that we're not depending on foreign oil.

But the administration hasn't let that occur. But, you know, there are other impacts of this. You know, most of the cars that this allows people to buy are mostly smaller cars. Now, those smaller cars may do well in crash tests, but the passengers don't. So, there are other secondary impact that we never measure.

And the bottom line is, when government comes in and decides that it is going to choose winners and losers, ultimately, the economy is the loser. And a lot of these cars that are bought, people would want to buy them at some point anyway. But, in this case, what we have done is, we have incented that many times couldn't afford to buy them to go ahead and buy them now, which only has lessened their financial security even worse.


BROWN: OK, Geoff -- let me let Geoff respond to some of the points you made there.

Go ahead.

POHANKA: I respectfully disagree that it's harmed the poor Americans.

In fact, it's a system that tremendously -- now, it may be hard for someone outside an auto dealership to understand how this works, and sometimes things don't work like they're intended. But this one really is. And I have been on the showroom floor talking to customers. So, I'm kind of curious their reaction to this.

This actually helps the poorest Americans, because most of the poorest Americans don't have credit. They don't have a down payment. And often they're upside-down their car, meaning, if they owe money on their car, they owe more than it's worth.

But, in this case, people come in and they have positive equity, they have money to put down. They can get a better interest rate. The banks are kind of hard loaning money to people nowadays. They look at the customers coming into the cash for clunkers program much more favorably.

In one case, on Friday, we had a customer who had an old used car. They only paid $500 for that used car. They have had it for over a year and they got $3,500 into the program to buy a new car. They were so happy. So, I respectfully disagree. This has helped.

Now, one thing to think about, this -- there's different types of stimulus. I think there is good stimulus and bad stimulus. This is good stimulus. Well, why is it good stimulus? It's very cost- effective. It's very efficient. And, in fact, up to 40 percent of the stimulus money going right back to government in the form of sales tax immediately once the car is purchased.


BROWN: A debate -- go ahead quickly. Congressman, I will give you the last word.

FRANKS: Well, quickly, the bottom line is that for a small sector of the middle class, the gentleman is correct. But, overall, it hurts the economy.

And for the poor, who don't have even the ability to access this program, they can't afford the payments of a new car, it has driven the cost of the used cars up, and it has hurt the poorest of the poor profoundly.

BROWN: All right, gentlemen, a debate that will continue obviously. We're still waiting to hear -- see how the Senate is going to vote on this, but many thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

FRANKS: Thank you.

POHANKA: Thank you.

BROWN: The big question tonight when we come back, should a college student really be forced to pay $675,000 to the record industry for illegally downloading music?

Plus, why did Ryan O'Neal hit on his own daughter at Farrah Fawcett's funeral. His disturbing tell-all.

But, first, more of Mozart's newly discovered compositions.


BROWN: A look now at some of the other must-see stories of the day.

Erica Hill here with tonight's "Download."



We begin actually with breaking news tonight out of Australia, where police say they have foiled a terror plot. Four suspects arrested in predawn raids across the city of Melbourne, they're charged with plotting a suicide attack against an Australian military base. The suspects allegedly has ties with Somali Islamic terrorist groups.

Families of three American hikers detained in Iran say it is all a big case of wrong place wrong time. The Iranian government, however, isn't buying it.


GIBSON: Iran today accused three American hikers who crossed into Iranian territory over the weekend of being CIA agents. A State Department official called the accusations against Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd as ridiculous.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously, we are concerned. We want this matter brought to a resolution as soon as possible, and we call on the Iranian government to help us determine the whereabouts of the three missing Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: State Department officials are saying that Swiss diplomats were unable to obtain any information after meeting with Iranian officials about the status and whereabouts of three Americans who have gone missing.


HILL: The hikers have been in Iranian custody since Friday.

Bank of America will pay a $33 million penalty in connection with the huge bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch execs when they bought the brokerage giant. Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Bank of America with misleading investors about plans for the nearly $6 billion in bonuses. As part of the agreement, the bank does not have to admit or deny any wrongdoing.

Your local post office could soon be on the chopping block, the Postal Service looking at consolidating or even closing as many as 1,000 post offices across the country. It turns out that 2 cent increase back in stamp prices back in May not enough to help manage a potential 7$ billion loss this year. And one big reason for that loss, more people turning to e-mail.

There's a new revelation tonight about some very old music. Take a listen to this, what researchers say was written by Mozart when he was just a young boy, one of two pieces now thought to be composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was 7 or 8 years old. Researchers say Mozart didn't know how to write music yet, so his father transcribed the notes.

That's what your husband does for your kids, right?

BROWN: Right.

HILL: He transcribes the notes. (LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Exactly. Now, that's what I call a baby Mozart.


HILL: True.

BROWN: That is big news.

Erica Hill tonight -- Erica, thanks.

The big question tonight, are Congress members really ready to take the heat when they go home to face voters?


CROWD: Just say no! Just say no! Just say no! Just say no! Just say no! Just say no!



BROWN: It's going to be a long, hot summer for a lot of members of Congress, the folks back home pretty angry right now about the economy and about health care. To quote the movie "Network," they're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. Listen.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As lawmakers head home for the August recess, they will be getting an earful from constituents fired up over health care reform.

CROWD: Just say no! Just say no! Just say no!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats across the country from New York to Florida to Virginia and Iowa, we're seeing a series of town halls gone wild here.

CROWD: Save our seniors! No Obama-care! Save our seniors! No Obama-care!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Arlen Specter out of PA found themselves on the defensive hosting, that pair hosting a health care town hall event on Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look at this health care plan, I see nothing that is about health or about care. What I see...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I see is a bureaucratic nightmare, Senator.


BROWN: So does Congress have a voter rebellion on its hands? And what could or should members of Congress do about it?

Here now to talk about this, Steve Kornacki, columnist for "The New York Observer," Reihan Salam, contributor to The Daily Beast for us from Washington, and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger also for us also in Washington for us tonight.

Gloria, let me start with you on here.

We have heard some members of Congress actually say they're afraid to go back to their districts to face their constituents? How bad is the anger out there?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think folks are very angry. I think they're afraid.

The economy has been terrible, and they're having a very tough time. They see a health care bill out there that frightens some of them because they don't understand it, because, guess what, Campbell? There isn't any health care bill yet. And so they're hearing all kinds of rumors: This is going to take away your health care. This is going to be government-run health care. This is socialized medicine. It's risky.

They don't know what to believe.

BROWN: Well, we don't even know what we're debating at this point a bit, Steve.

BORGER: Exactly.


BROWN: But I know you think that these raucous town hall meetings are a little bit overhyped.

KORNACKI: I think they're very overhyped. I think this is very reminiscent of what happened with the tea parties earlier this spring. This is sort of top-down, grassroots activism. What you have are a few sort of lobbyist-run groups out of Washington, D.C., conservative groups. They're run by lobbyists. They're paid for by industries, groups like Americans For Prosperity -- one is called. FreedomWorks, another one is called.

And they're sort of manufacturing with the help of conservative media outlets outrage. And what's the outrage about? I listened to some of the tape you just rolled there. This woman gets up and say, I read the plan and I don't see anything about health care.

Well, as Gloria just pointed out, there is no plan. She hasn't read anything. I heard Mike Huckabee on another network over the weekend talking about -- he tells his viewers, you have got congressmen coming home. Go talk to them about how you want to stop their effort to take over health care. There is no effort to take over health care. Any of these plans right now, say what you will about them, don't involve -- any legitimate plan that has a chance of passage does not involve single- payer universal health care. There is no government takeover. We can criticize these plans. There is no government takeover here.

BROWN: Reihan, who is to blame for sort of this massive miscommunication, if that's what it amounts to? Is this President Obama making a mistake by not putting his own plan forward, and sort of letting Congress deal with this?

REIHAN SALAM, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Well, I think that, during the presidential campaign, and also more recently, President Obama has empathized to people, if you like your health care, you're going to keep it.

But the truth is that, if we're going to move to a more sustainable system, you're going to have to make really dramatic changes. And so you have this kind of double game. And I don't blame President Obama for it. But, on the one hand, you have to move to a different and more sustainable system. On the other hand, you have to reassure voters that nothing is going to change.

And people are catching wind of the fact that there is a basic and deep contradiction here. So, I think that's why you're getting a lot of questions. I think that the anger is real. I don't think it's entirely AstroTurf. I think don't it's totally top-down. I think people have a real anxiety about some kind of radical change happening.

And they should have it, because we need radical change. I don't necessarily agree with the various proposals -- and there have been various proposals put forward by Democrats. But I think that's the basic contradiction. We need radical change, but our politicians aren't acknowledging that. And that's why people are concerned.

BROWN: So, well, Gloria, how then does the president get Democrats to fall in line, to stay with him on this, when they're facing this kind of anger when they go back home? They have a month of this.

BORGER: Well, you know, Campbell, that's going to be very difficult. The White House is in the process right now of changing tack.

At the beginning of this whole debate, they thought they could keep everyone, including all the voters, in line by saying, look, in order to reduce the deficit -- we know you're all concerned about the deficit -- we have to reform health care.

Well, that message didn't resonate when the Congressional Budget Office came out and said, guess what? This doesn't reduce the deficit.

Now they're changing tack. And what you're going to hear out there is the Democrats taking on the big insurance companies. So, suddenly, they're going to have a boogieman here. It's going to be the big insurance companies. The only problem is the insurance industry right now supports health care reform. They don't support a public plan but they support reform.

BROWN: So making the insurance companies sort of bad guy in all this, is that really going to rally Americans?

KORNACKI: Well, it ought to after, you know, how many decades of this. How many decades was lunacy? I see people getting up there.

BROWN: But if they're onboard, how you can sort of --

KORNACKI: Well, they're not onboard with the public plan. And that's the whole other issue right now. Are we getting to the point where so much has been compromised to get this through the House? So much will be compromised to get through this to the Senate, even more will be compromised to get a reconciled plan through...

BROWN: Right.

KORNACKI: But you're not going to have anything meaningful that two, three, four, five years from now voters look at and say, yes, it was really worth doing that.


KORNACKI: A strong public -- I wish I was sitting here right now telling you that we were debating having an actual, you know, single pair Medicare for everybody plan, you know, in Congress. Something that the right could call socialized medicine. It would be. I wish we're talking about it, but we're not talking about that. We're talking about what's going to end up being piece meal reform. I think that's the biggest risk for Obama...

BORGER: But if you --

KORNACKI: ... three years from now people didn't do anything.

BORGER: But if you wind up with some kind of serious cost containment, that's going to be very, very important.

KORNACKI: A public option is the best way to contain costs -- a real public option.

BROWN: Let me let Reihan -- Reihan, go ahead.

SALAM: Look, we're not going to get serious cost containment because that would involve doing a lot of (INAUDIBLE). I think that what you're going to see happen is a system where you have these huge premium subsidies for people who are in the insurance exchanges, and you're going to have people who are in the employer-provided, the employer-based system that's going to slowly crumble because they're not getting the same subsidies and they're going to be resentful and they're going to start offloading people.

So I think that you're going to have this kind of unsustainable system rather than moving to a new system that's not employer based. You have Democrats, they've talked about this like Senator Widen who had the right idea. You need to get rid of the employer system whole hog, but people are terrified of that.

You have Republicans who are talking about the same thing, albeit in a different form. And I think that that's why this argument isn't fantasy land because the employer-based system is what's broken and it's at the heart of the way most Americans get their coverage now. And they have to face up to the fact that it's not going to last.

BROWN: All right, guys, we do have to end it there. Gloria, Reihan, Steve here with me in New York, thanks guys. Appreciate it.


BROWN: The angry voters out there are getting a lot of attention, but we want to know what you think about all this. Grade President Obama on his second 100 days by voting right now at Then on Thursday night, we are going to bring you a special show with all of the results. You can join me and the best political team on television for CNN's "National Report Card," special programming Thursday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

A Boston university student just found out crime doesn't pay. He is facing a $675,000 fine for illegally downloading 30 songs. That works out to about $22,500 per song. But does the punishment fit the crime? We're going to talk to him when we come back.


BROWN: A jury has ordered a staggering amount of money to be paid by someone who downloaded and shared music. On Friday, graduate student, Joel Tenenbaum, was told to pay $675,000 to four music labels after he admitted sharing 30 songs from bands like Nirvana, Green Day and the Smashing Pumpkins, which means he's on the hook for about $22,500 per tune. That comes after last June's nearly $2 million judgment against a Minnesota woman.

So does the punishment here really fit the crime? A short time ago, I spoke to Tenenbaum along with Cara Duckworth who is a spokesman for the recording industry association of America. Listen.


BROWN: You knew you were doing something wrong and that you ought to be paying for it. Why did you do it?

JOEL TENENBAUM, SUED BY RECORD INDUSTRY: Well, it's something that just sort of came naturally to my generation. I mean, if you go to any college campus, you know, try to find the kid who's not doing it. So it doesn't seem particularly unusual just in -- in sort of my background and -- and the people who were my friends and so forth.

BROWN: These are artists who you admire

TENENBAUM: Right. BROWN: You listen to their music.

TENENBAUM: Absolutely.

BROWN: Don't you think they deserve to be compensated for it?

TENENBAUM: Oh, absolutely, Campbell. I've always held that artists deserve to be paid for their work. I -- I...

BROWN: And that's who you're stealing from.

TENENBAUM: Well, again, this -- this idea of stealing -- I think the -- the whole debate about file sharing as to whether or not it is beneficial or harmful and I don't even think it's necessarily the same amount of benefit for any given user. I think different users use file sharing different ways.

BROWN: But if you're not --

TENENBAUM: For example, if --

BROWN: Hold down a second. Because if you're not paying for it...


BROWN: ... how is that different? I don't understand.

TENENBAUM: Well, sure. For example, Campbell, my roommate gave me three songs from Elliot Smith. This was a while back. And ever since hearing that, I went out and bought every single one of his albums on iTunes and I never would have discovered that. The same thing with Pink Floyd. I went out to the actual CD store and actually bought two Pink Floyd albums.

So there's sort of a question of is this something that actually helps the music -- does it not?

I mean, there is, I think, a legitimate debate on this issue.

BROWN: All right. So, Joel, now, according to a judge, you've got to come up with $675,000.

TENENBAUM: Well, according to...

BROWN: What's your plan?

TENENBAUM: According to the judge and -- well, the jury, really, the plan -- I don't -- I don't have $675,000 or any appreciable fraction of that. So, I mean, we're -- we have various legal options. I'm not an expert on this. But if it comes down to $675,000 actually standing, then I'd file for bankruptcy. I don't have any choice.

BROWN: All right, let me -- let me got to Cara now and bring you in here, because I've got to ask, are you happy with the results in this? You heard Joel there. You're not going to get the money from him. He doesn't have it. He said if push comes to shove, he's filing for bankruptcy. So, what does that mean for you?

CARA DUCKWORTH, RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSN. OF AMERICA: Well, we're certainly not happy because we didn't want to be here in the first place. This is just a step that was necessary to take after many fruitless settlement offers that we did extend to him, which actually were much lower than the numbers that we -- that he has thrown out.

We did extend numerous settlement offers and instead of accepting responsibility and settling with us, he chose to drag this out and wage a protracted legal battle all in favor of illegal file sharing in order to get his music for free.

So, what we wanted to do was settle with him early on to be able to avoid this. And when it comes down to it, he admitted to engaging in this illegal behavior on the fourth day of the trial, which, frankly, baffled us as to why we even had to be here.

So, no, absolutely not. We're not happy that we had to be here in the first place...

BROWN: But -- but...

DUCKWORTH: ...but it was -- it was an important step to take.

BROWN: Let's be honest here, this is not about Joel, really, for you guys. It's -- I mean Joel is one of probably millions of people who are doing this right now online.

So what is -- and you've heard him make the case here, that, you know, in a way, it's a way to -- to exchange music and he wouldn't have bought, you know, a Pink Floyd album had his friend not given him -- or shared his tracks online.

So -- so what's your long-term solution here?

How do you stop this, given the way so many people view it?

DUCKWORTH: Well, there are a few points to make.

First, we don't expect to stop it. What we can do is -- is limit it and manage it. And what I find kind of interesting about Joel's point is that he believes that artists and record companies and all those involved in making music should get paid, but he doesn't believe that he should be the one to pay them.

So it comes down to making sure that artists, music creators, everybody involved in the chain of making music, down from the sound engineers to the backup singers to the session musicians, all of those real working class individuals are paid for their work. They, ultimately, rely on the legitimate sales of music.

BROWN: All right. Let me go back to Joel and give you a chance to respond, Joel, to some of the issues Cara has raised here. TENEMBAUM: Well, I -- I -- I've always said that I don't think I can compete with the RIAA on spin. I'm not a professional spokesperson.

But the -- the artists have spoken out on this. The majority of them don't see file sharing as a threat. Trent Reznor (ph) has been an outspoken critic of the RIAA and its campaigns and so forth.

And when people -- I mean, I've gotten so many people just reaching out, finding me on Facebook, on Twitter, just saying -- just offering warm wishes of support, saying way to fight that battle, I feel a part of that, too. And no one ever says -- everybody always says take the RIAA down or make them answer in court.

No one ever says screw the artists, because they innately know that that's not what this is about. They know it's about the artists and having creative control.

So, again, I can't compete with spin. All we can do is post everything we possibly can for the sake of transparency.


BROWN: My thanks there to Joel Tenenbaum and to Cara Duckworth.

When we come back, tonight's "Wingnut Watch" features a former presidential candidate using a word that some might say can't be taken back. And pythons on the loose. Tonight we're on the hunt.



JOE WASILEWSKI, REPTILE EXPERT: And this isn't a big one.

ZARRELLA: That's -- this is a good ten feet.


ZARRELLA: Oh, yes, at least 12.



BROWN: Time for our "Wingnut Watch." That is the beat of our next guest, "Daily Beast" contributor John Avlon who fearlessly calls out those who divide rather than unite us whether they are on the left or the right or totally off the map. Tonight, a former congressman and presidential candidate.

John, who do you have? Who is the latest wingnut?

JOHN AVLON, "DAILY BEAST" CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Campbell, this night we've got a hall of fame wingnut many have thought to be in retirement, resurfaces this week. Congressman Tom Tancredo who weighed in on the is the president racist parlor game and threw the Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor in the mix as well while managing to mispronounce her name. Let's take a listen at this particular enlightening exchange.


TOM TANCREDO (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I can say that his statements, and by the way his appointment of someone I do believe to be a racist, Sonia Mayor (ph), for her racial views, by the way, that is an indication that could be used as an indication by some that he is indeed a racist because it's depending on what you use as a definition.


AVLON: Depending on what you use as a definition. What? Sounds like a teachable moment. My dictionary says that a racist is hatred towards of another race or other races. I don't think that sounds like the president or a Supreme Court justice nominee. Not by a long shot.

BROWN: All right. And, John, you say this isn't the first time Tancredo has used --

AVLON: Indeed, this is not the first time. No, he's been like a moth to this particular brand of stupid. Earlier on in the Sotomayor debate, he compared Laraza (ph), the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization to a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.

You know, this stuff used to be calling your political opponents racist. It used to be sort of the purview of the left. Now, it's migrated to the right and some weird attempt to level the playing field. It's a reality check. The KKK is the KKK. It's not a metaphor. It's a reality.

The president is the president. Judge Sotomayor is Judge Sotomayor.

BROWN: All right. John Avlon, with his wingnut of the week. John, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

"LARRY KING LIVE" just minutes away now. Larry, new developments tonight in the Jackson case, I understand. What have you got?

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: You got it, Campbell. Katherine Jackson's attorneys are going to be with us tonight. It's a "LARRY KING LIVE" exclusive. We'll take you inside the hearing earlier today regarding Michael Jackson's affairs. And what was the lawyer for Dr. Arnold Klein doing there?

Plus, Griffin O'Neal sounds off about his father, Ryan, and Farrah Fawcett. Kind of a devastating look inside a very troubled Hollywood family. You'll see it only here and you'll see it next on "LARRY KING LIVE."

How did I do that, Campbell? Was I effective? BROWN: Always. You're always effective, Larry.

KING: I try.

BROWN: You never miss a trick. All right, we'll see you in a few minutes.

KING: Thanks, Campbell. Bye.

BROWN: There is an astonishing story coming out about actor Ryan O'Neal and what he did during the funeral for his longtime companion Farrah Fawcett. Was he actually flirting with a member of his own family? Wait until you hear what he told our next guest.


BROWN: Actress Farrah Fawcett died just over a month ago on June 25th, and by her side right up until the end was her longtime companion actor Ryan O'Neal. Well, now, an article in the new issue of "Vanity Fair" makes a stunning revelation about O'Neal's behavior at Fawcett's funeral and one moment in particular O'Neal shared with author Leslie Bennetts.


LESLIE BENNETTS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": He said I was a pallbearer and I had pushed the casket into the hearse, and this beautiful blonde woman came running up to me and threw her arms around me. And he instantly launched into his Don Juan stick (ph), and says, hey, you got a drink on you. You got a car?

GOLDBERG: He didn't recognize his own daughter at Farrah Fawcett's funeral and started flirting with her until she said, Daddy, it's Tatum.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Daddy? I mean, who does he think he is? Woody Allen? I mean, come on. It's so gross.

GOLDBERG: And he is not the world's best father but I will tell you he looked after Farrah on her way out and we can at least put that in the positive column.


BROWN: Now the article that has sparking all of this chatter was by "Vanity Fair" contributing editor Leslie Bennetts. It hits newsstands later this week.

Leslie is here with me right now with lots more detail about all of this. First of all, the daughter? I mean, his daughter, Tatum O'Neal at the funeral?

BENNETTS: Tatum said, well, he hadn't seen me in a couple of years.

BROWN: Said she thought he didn't recognize her? What? Seriously?

BENNETTS: I think she has a different hair color.

BROWN: What was your take when he told you this?

BENNETTS: I was incredulous in all honesty because he was telling me this story about trying to pick up his own daughter at the funeral of his lover of 30 years, Farrah Fawcett.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: And he finishes telling the story and he says, can you believe it? It's so sick.

BROWN: And you're like, yes.

BENNETTS: So I called Tatum after that, and the interesting thing was she told me the exact same story in the exact same words. I mean, clearly, it happened just as he had described it.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: And when she finished talking about it I said, well, you know, how did you take this? And he said -- she said, well, that's my relationship with my father in a nutshell. Make of it what you will.

BROWN: What did she mean by that?

BENNETTS: She said, you know, he's always been a Don Juan, a ladies man. And I think he just has this kind of reflex stick (ph).

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: You know, you have the feeling he had delivered those lines a million times.

BROWN: A million times.

BENNETTS: Hey, you got a drink on you? You know, you got a car, like let's blow this joint and go out and have some fun. But it was his daughter, you know.

BROWN: Yes. You interviewed him both right before Farrah Fawcett's death and after.


BROWN: I mean, describe kind of his state of mind as he was going through this.

BENNETTS: Ryan's state of mind even in the course of ten minutes was just all over the map. He would be, you know, maudlin and then teary and then he has really cutting wit. He's very funny. And a lot of the time you're laughing even though he's saying something completely outrageous and you know that you shouldn't. In fact one afternoon I spent with him on Alana Stewart (ph) and she kept kind of hitting him with a sofa pillow at her house in her living room saying, Ryan, do you have any idea how this is going to look in print because he says these terrible things, you know. And then, you know, he would burst into tears.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: I mean -- you know, and some of it is, I mean, they were under just enormous emotional stress. I mean, Farrah was dying when we started talking and had died when, you know, we were concluding. And there's a tremendous amount of grief to process. But I'm not sure he isn't, you know minus the grief, pretty much the same under normal circumstances.

BROWN: Well, this whole family really opened up to you about their dysfunction, and even it's like off the charts -- dysfunction.

BENNETTS: It's just epic -- absolutely epic. It's an astonishing family story.

BROWN: I mean, describe like how -- I mean, there are so many angles to it.

BENNETTS: You know, there is so much. You know, you could spend half an article just listening -- the drug arrests, you know, the criminal arrests, the incarcerations for various things of various family members. And, you know, you're sitting talking to Ryan and he'll be telling you some story and say, oh, yes, that was the night of Farrah's birthday. That was the night I shot my son. Well, I didn't really shoot him. I shot into the banister. If I wanted to hit him, I could have hit him. You know, he's my son.

BROWN: You don't want to laugh.

BENNETTS: And you just can't believe the things he's saying.

BROWN: Right. There was another story, his son Griffin, his son from a previous relationship, maintains that Ryan O'Neal was mostly after Farrah's money.


BROWN: Did you buy that? What was your take on it?

BENNETTS: No, I think that's silly. They were involved for 30 years. And, you know, Griffin was saying that at the very end he, you know, he was inheriting in inheriting her money. But the fact is, her money is going to their son, first of all.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: And second of all when I asked Ryan about it, his first comment was, I hate him, because it made him very angry that Griffin was saying this.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: But then he said, you know, I have plenty of money of my own, and more than I deserve.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: He made a lot of money in real estate. And later I was talking to Alana about it and she said Ryan has a lot more money than Farrah did. He does not need Farrah's money. So -- but Griffin, you know, it's kind of a -- you know, a black and white reverse image thing with Griffin and Ryan.

BROWN: Right.

BENNETTS: Whatever Ryan says, Griffin sees it absolutely the opposite way.

BROWN: Absolutely the opposite.

Well, it's a fascinating article in the new "Vanity Fair." Leslie Bennetts, it's good to have you here. Appreciate it.

BENNETTS: Thank you.

BROWN: Tonight's "Breakout" story will take you face-to-face with a predator roaming the Florida Everglades and we're not talking about alligators here. The number of pythons is exploding. When we come back.


BROWN: If you hate snakes as much as I do, you are going to love tonight's "Breakout."

Here right now, John Zarrella.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): Joe Wasilewski drives along a narrow stretch of road that bisects Florida's Everglades. Night is coming on quickly. He's looking for snakes, one in particular.

JOE WASILEWSKI, REPTILE EXPERT: The next ten miles seem to be the hot spot for Burmese pythons.

ZARRELLA: Wasilewski, a reptile expert, is one of a handful of men sanctioned by the state to hunt down and rid the glades of pythons. An extraordinary move in response to what scientists believe is a rapidly growing threat to the delicate ecosystem.

WASILEWSKI: It's a large predator and they're eating basically everything in sight. That's the problem.

ZARRELLA: Twenty years ago, there were none here. Today perhaps 100,000. No one is quite sure. Night is the best time to catch these non-venomous snakes. That's when they're on the move. Wasilewski spots something. He jumps from the truck, runs to it.

WASILEWSKI: This is not a python. It's a banded water snake.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Banded water snake.

WASILEWSKI: Yes. You want to pick him up?


WASILEWSKI: He'll bite you.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): An hour driving back and forth across the roads, still no python, at least not alive. There's a dead one and several more small snakes. A baby alligator, too.

WASILEWSKI: Oh, man. And he got hit by a car.

ZARRELLA: Two hours into our hunt suddenly Wasilewski is on it. He sees one.

WASILEWSKI: Yes, baby. Hey, look at the size of this one.

ZARRELLA: Skillfully he grabs it behind the head. It instantly coils around his arm. Wasilewski will lock the snake in a crate and take it to the national park biologist to be studied and destroyed.

But first, we've got to untangle it from his arm.

(on camera): Wow, look at this.

WASILEWSKI: And this isn't a big one.

ZARRELLA: That's -- this is a good ten feet.


ZARRELLA: Oh, yes, at least 12.

(voice-over): Wasilewski doesn't get paid. It's voluntary. While he knows they've got to be eliminated, he's got a soft spot for the reptile. And guess what? It's not this snake's fault.


BROWN: That is it for us. Good night, everybody. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.