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In the Arena

From Hope to Heartbreak; Missing in Missouri

Aired May 26, 2011 - 20:00   ET


ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, welcome to the program. I'm Eliot Spitzer. Our top story tonight -- questions from Joplin, Missouri, that should alarm and anger all of us.

There are 126 bodies in the morgue, yet all of those grieving mothers, fathers, children we've been talking to, they are not allowed to find out if their loved ones are among the dead.

They need answers. Tonight I hope to get some. My interview with the man this charge in a moment.

But first, a look at the other stories we're drilling down on tonight. The stories are gut wrenching.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't go home. It's gone.

SPITZER (voice-over): The images unforgettable -- I'll ask Dr. Gayle Salt, is there such a thing as disaster overload. And remember Wisconsin?


SPITZER: The Republican govern tried to bust the union. Jeffrey Toobin says a new ruling could bring them back stronger than ever.

Then Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the applause, was he on the wrong side of history? Fareed Zakaria says Israel's prime minister may have won the battle, but lost the war.


SPITZER: For the past few days I've been telling you about one family's desperate search for their 16-year-old son, Lantz Hare. He vanished like so many in the tornado.

Night after night Lantz's dad, Mike Hare, came on the show to talk about his harrowing search for his son. As the family scoured the city and searched every hospital, they brought their search to our airwaves. Many of you responded with your prayers and support.

Tonight, I'm sad to report, Lantz Hare is dead. His body was found in the morgue, and to make this wrenching story even more tragic, Lantz has been there for days, even as his father and mother searched the city. Lantz's body was in the morgue. I want to bring in Dan Mitchell. He was Lantz's minister and friend. Dan, thank you for joining us at this very difficult moment.

DAN MITCHELL, PRESIDENT, THE BRIDGE MINISTRY: It's an honor to be here to represent Lantz and his family.

SPITZER: First of all, obviously, our condolences. How is the family doing?

MITCHELL: You know, they're -- they're a strong group of people. They are praying. They are leaning on friends and their faith and they're going to make it through this.

And, you know, there are a lot of kids that were Lantz's friends that are around that family constantly and those kids need all of us adults to get their backs at this time.

And so I just see a good support structure there, and I'm proud of them. And we're praying for them. And we're going to do everything we can to help them, too.

SPITZER: You've known Lantz for about six years through his work and time together at the Bridge Ministry. Tell us a little about him. What he did? What kind of kid he was?

MITCHELL: Well, he started with us riding BMX bikes. And you know, kids' interests change, they kind of figure out who they are during the teen years. Lately his big thing was Frisbee-golf. So he's a good Frisbee-golfer. That's what his friends' memories were when I was at their house.

He called it Frolf. So he's very smart. He would do anything for you. And he came to the Bridge like a lot of kids because kids need a place where they're supported and loved and it's home for them.

He was a leader there in a lot of respects. Even now tonight there are hundreds of kids there that are Lantz's friends. They're there waiting and praying and supporting one another and that's what's needed right now, a lot of hugs and just to know that people have your back.

SPITZER: You know, Dan, this tragedy knows no bounds. But almost to make it worse, talk us through the process of actually finding Lantz's body in the morgue.

How did that happen because as you saw day after day, his dad, Mike, was on the show grieving and so visibly upset. Talk us through how we finally made this tragic finding and discovery.

MITCHELL: Well, it all started just, you know, at first everyone was hopeful that he ducked in somewhere, and we couldn't get in touch with him. So on Monday, I had two kids with me that were some of his best friends, and they kept bothering me. We were setting up a distribution center. They were like, "we've got to find Lantz's car."

Finally, I handed that of to some other great staff members and we went out to look for his car. That was the first thing because it was key to know whether or not he was really missing or if we just couldn't get in touch with him.

So we walked two miles through the zone here with my daughter, our youth minister and his two best friends. And after two miles of searching the rubble, we found his blue car on the south side of the road near the high school and then we dug for two hours.

And then some firemen said, "We need to check the hospital. We know that people have been recovered from here so there's nobody here." and then at that point, we made sure the family got to the hospital, and the hospital did not have him in their morgue.

So they gave us a list of 50 places to call and said maybe you can find him in these other places. We did. The family was calling. I called trustees of our organization from other states and said call every hospital.

Do not take no for an answer. Let's find this young man and -- and that happened until today.

SPITZER: Then what happened today? I know there's a police officer --

MITCHELL: At the 7th Street morgue.

SPITZER: There's a friend, Mike Hobson. Explain to us how this police officer, Mike Hobson, who was a friend of the family, was able finally to put the pieces together and gain access to the morgue that nobody else had been given access to.

MITCHELL: I don't know that he had access in any other way than anyone else. I just know that what I've experienced in this disaster is that you have to fight for it.

You know, when people are weak, someone has to stand up and fight. And it's not -- they don't have to do that because there's evil intent. They have to do it because everyone's confused and just doing the best they can.

And so our city officials are working hard, and they're making decisions on the fly. And I think they're doing the best they can. I'm so thankful that CNN is getting this out on the news. I think you guys are amazing. I love what's happening and a lot of people are coming together.

But Mike just did what other victims need as she is an advocate and that's how this young man was found. That's what we all need is an advocate on our side who will stand up for us when we are weak.

SPITZER: That is so true. As I understand it, Officer Hobson was able to go to the morgue, and maybe because he was an officer, maybe not, who knows -- we'll have to find out more.

He was able to go into the morgue and he actually was - he was able to actually visually identify Lantz's body because he's known him over the years as a family friend. Is that how the connection finally was made?

MITCHELL: Yes. That's true. They were -- they were very good friends. He and his son, Ryan, were good friends of the Hare family and all we know is he found him. He's the one who identified him. I don't know how that happened, but I do know that he's the one who did it and we're very grateful.

The family did want to say to Sergeant Mike Hobson and his family that, you know, they -- they've given up Mike Hobson for days now, and he's just given everything he has to the whole effort. He didn't just do this.

He's done lots of other things, too, and so many others have, too. It's been amazing thing to witness people rising to the occasion in Joplin, Missouri.

SPITZER: Dan Mitchell, you are so right. People are trying to do their best. No doubt about that and in a moment of tragedy and anguish beyond words.

So we extend our condolences obviously to you, to the Hare family and to so many folks out there in Joplin who've gone through an awful, awful times. So thank you so much for being with us.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

SPITZER: With me now to address some of these problems is Mark Bridges who's the coroner for Newton County, Missouri, which is where Joplin is.

Mark, thanks for joining me. I think you're joining us on the phone, am I correct?

MARK BRIDGES, NEWTON COUNTY, MISSOURI CORONER (via telephone): That's correct.

SPITZER: All right. Sir, let me ask you a question -- as you know, you've seen there is anguish. There is frustration among those who are -- who have missing family members, the list of missing is now about 230, 232, is that correct as you understand it?

BRIDGES: We're not working from that list. That's a list the highway patrol has compiled. I haven't seen that list as of yet, but yes, we're -- I can speak to the morgue operations side of it.

SPITZER: All right. So my question is -- how many bodies do you have in the county morgue right now, and how many of them have been identified by family members so that you know who they are?

BRIDGES: Yes. Well, I'll tell you what we have, and I'll tell you we have some good news also. We've been following a protocol with 126 that we have in the morgue, the federal protocol to run the station.

What I just stepped out of meeting at Missouri Southern State University with a group of family members and they expressed their concerns of just the concerns I've listened to tonight. And the decision was made if a person can make a positive I.D. with the, let's say, for instance piercings or tattoos.

A lot of people told us about, they would have a specific tattoo that nobody else would have, we're tomorrow going to start the process of allowing those people to view the bodies of the loved ones if we can make a positive I.D., going to go ahead and release those bodies.

That's been the holdup up to this point is at early on they made some false positives and people - individuals that were not their loved one. They went to funeral home, turned out to be they made a false ID.

So we called in the federal identification group. They came in, and they're starting the process which utilizes x-rays, et cetera. So we're going to try to expedite and make a positive I.D. to let those families get their loved ones back, and then use the federal project for the people that can't be identified that way.

SPITZER: That certainly is good news and a little bit of progress. So just folks understands, my understanding, Mark, tell me if I'm wrong obviously, is of about the 126 bodies you referred to that you have in the morgue, about half of them or so -- this of an estimate when we were chatting earlier -- about half have not yet been identified. So you're talking something in the range of 60 unidentified bodies in the morgue. Is that about right?

BRIDGES: Yes, and I haven't seen all of them, but the ones I've seen, I'd say it's a 50/50 mixture, yes.

SPITZER: Right. So I guess that has raised for many people and certainly I was trying to work this through. If you have a list of about 230-plus missing people, the family members we saw with the Hare family going through agony beyond words, don't they want to go into that morgue?

You're only dealing with about 230 families, go into that morgue and say is our missing family member among the 50 or so unidentified bodies? So you're saying that process will begin tomorrow morning finally?

BRIDGES: Yes. The families have been assured of that. I don't believe it can ramp up tonight, but it will probably be tomorrow. And it will make us all happy because we grieve along with those families so we're going to try to expedite the people that can actually make the positive ID.

SPITZER: Well, it's certainly -- one would have wondered why it hadn't happened sooner. Put that issue aside obviously. Certainly in the case of Lantz Hare, if his family members had been permitted in then several days ago theoretically they would have been able to found his body.

Given him the burial that he deserves and not end the grieving, but end the uncertainty and so that's why getting family members in there just seems so critically important. I guess, it's good news you'll do that tomorrow morning, Mark.

BRIDGES: I totally agree with you and that's definitely correct.

SPITZER: All right. Well, thank you, Mark Bridges, for passing on that important step that you're now going to take as of tomorrow morning. Mark, thanks for being with us.

BRIDGES: Sure thing. Thank you.

SPITZER: We now turn to Missouri's Governor Jay Nixon. Governor, thanks for coming on the show.


SPITZER: All right. Look, Governor, I know this has been a harrowing, unbelievably difficult time. I think you've been able to listen to the conversations that we've had thus far on the show.

So the question I have is -- why wasn't, why haven't family been let into the morgue? So you have this overlap, 50, 60 unidentified bodies, 230-plus people among the missing, the family members get into the morgue and make those ideas.

The horror is we know many of those individuals there will be identified by the families.

NIXON: Yesterday morning we -- we began to sense that there were information challenges at that time. There were about 1,300 on a group that they say were unaccounted for. We brought in a tremendous amount of additional resources, worked all night last night.

Worked that list down to 232, and we're confident some folks are unfortunately part of that morgue. It's also, I think, important for people to realize that many of these folks were dramatically physically, you know, this is a storm in which cars were split in half, a hospital was moved four inches.

Boards were through cars, through buildings. Unfortunately there are some very, very damaged folks there, and it's extremely difficult in those situations, you know, and just having folks in -- that's why we facilitated not only moving that list from 1,300 to 232.

But then this meeting this evening is taking all of those folks, all those 232 confirmed that folks couldn't find, puts those all together. Go through that process in a private way, the way they were just able to do to begin the process of an organized way of -- of getting the sad information out.

SPITZER: Look, Governor, I know how hard you've been working at this, but I can tell you, and I'm sure you've sensed this, you've been talking to the media all day. We have been hearing questions and with an increasing fervor on the part of family missing loved ones.

Why can't they at least show us pictures or break it down if we give a description, lets us know if anybody matches that description who's in the morgue day after day. We've been told, we, at least, we the family members, have been denied access to the morgue where we know there are a lot of unidentified bodies.

So, I guess, it's good news. You're going to accelerate, do everything you can to permit family members into the morgue to make IDs. How quickly can this be done?

NIXON: I mean, first of all, we went from a situation yesterday of 1,300 down to 232 this morning. As I said, they just completed a meeting with all of those. It's without -- without speaking overly graphically here, Eliot, it's important to note that, you know, not all of the bodies were intact, not all of the -- you know, this is not the identification of an intact person who -- these are folks that have been through an F5 tornado, whose bodies have been thrown.

And this is just not for -- we have a deep faith and sanctity. We're going to work, our state partners, which have to accelerate the process. As we stood here yesterday, folks said there were as many as 1,300 missing. Our folks worked to move the list down. We can facilitate the meeting of all the folks who were there.

And many of these, the only way to identify them is through DNA. You know, that's just the only way to do it. I mean, it is -- they are in essence unrecognizable in many situations. Not as simple as walking down a list and pointing out a relative, unfortunately.

And in this situation, modern science is going to have to help solve some problems. It's going to take a little bit of time. We're all asking for everyone to -- and I know the community worked on that yesterday, I met with 100 ministers. All of us working, praying and thinking for all of these families who have suffered a terrible loss.

SPITZER: All right, Governor Nixon, thank you very much for being with us. Sure is good news that finally those families will be able to get in there and hopefully that list of 50 or so unidentified bodies will drop down to zero because certainly making those IDs will be hugely importance for so many family members. Thank you for joining us tonight.

NIXON: Absolutely.

SPITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, we've been moved by the stories coming out of the Midwest, but Dr. Gail Saltz cautions there's a limit to how much sympathy we can give and receive.

But first, our friend Jeffrey Toobin is with us. Jeff, we haven't heard a lot about union busting in Wisconsin recently at least. That changed today. What happened?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Big deal today. What happened was the famous law, the law that the Democratic legislators fled the state to try to stop. It was ultimately passed by the Republicans, signed by the Republican Governor, Scott Walker. A judge in Wisconsin struck down the law today and said the law was passed in violation of Wisconsin's Public Meetings Act. So the law is just of the books perhaps temporarily but game on now.

SPITZER: All right, nothing like a good litigation over a law about open meetings to get the lawyers happy.

TOOBIN: You know what, open meetings -- it's just the greatest.

SPITZER: All right, look forward to that discussion. Coming up, can too much compassion be a bad thing? Stay with us.


SPITZER: It's been a year with an extraordinary number of tragic stories. Remember Japan? There was the quake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown still a problem today.

That was knocked off the front page by the often bloody Arab spring then the killing of Osama Bin Laden and before we could catch our breath, deadly floods and tornadoes cutting through America's heartland. All of these images have left us overwhelmed, even numb.

Joining us now is Dr. Gail Saltz, she is the psychiatrist the show turns to, to answer the tough questions. So, Gail, is this sort of overload emotionally -- can we somehow lose the ability to process it?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL: I think that's happening to many people. I think that it's a combination of fatigue, sort of getting desensitized. When you see this image repeated over and over again, it's overwhelming, and to defend ourselves against feeling overwhelmed and having to empathize with each of these people that you bring on to tell their story.

Instead we sort of go into a bit of denial, disassociate ourselves to protect our own minds from feeling overwhelming anxiety. The anxiety at the thought this could be us every moment. There's no way to know we're certain to be protected from any one of these disasters and that's an impossible way to function in your life.

SPITZER: I want to put up on the screen, I think we're showing some of the images that have been bombarding us over the past number of months. Of course, it didn't just begin this past January.

But what you're saying is the thought that it could have been us, which way does that cut? Does it make us feel grateful in a way and less concerned about the other folks who are going through this?

SALTZ: No. I think what it -- it makes people who tend to be anxious, which is many of us --


SALTZ: To feel that, you know, I can't be sure this won't be me. How I do protect myself? I am scared all the time, which can really diminish our functioning. And so that tends to make us turn to, you know what, I have to not empathize. I have to tune out. I think that's one issue.

Another issue, I think honestly, is nationally we've become a nation of like attention deficit disorder. We if from thing to thing to thing that's stimulating, exciting, our mind wants more.

So we're sort of like, yes, that happened, but that was yesterday so what's today, what's next on the docket that I can -- in a sense be revved up about.

SPITZER: You're perhaps being a little too polite to say so. Are you saying it's the media or in fact cable TV that manages to get us transfixed on these crises and then immediately we switch from the tsunami, earthquake, Bin Laden --

SALTZ: Yes --

SPITZER: Tornadoes --

SALTZ: That's a realty that these things are happening, but certainly the news' job is to engage us. They're doing so by bringing on poignant stories that any individual can identify with and say this could be you.

That's what draws us in, right? So we are both upset and made anxious. Many of us like the people who love to see horror movies, are titillated and we want to -- it gives us the feeling that it's happening 24/7. You see that image over and over again.

SPITZER: All right. How does this manifest itself? Do people become less giving? After 9/11, there's this enormous outpour, people wanting to give money. Anything we could do, we did.

SALTZ: Correct.

SPITZER: Does that diminish over time because somehow each successive tragedy is a little less powerful?

SALTZ: A little less compelling. I think to some degree yes, but also let's face it. You can't give to everything every single day, right? So the idea -- now you should give to this, tomorrow you better give to that.

The next day you have to give -- we can't do it. So I think to some degree people are shutting down and saying, you know, look, the economy's bad, I can't give of myself to everything and in a sense that's true.

If you try to give to everything, you're really giving to nothing. People have to pick their things, but this overwhelming information makes it difficult to do so.

SPITZER: All right. Now I want to ask the question of how the families deal with this. You saw this tragic tale of Lantz Hare where for several days parents were searching desperately for a son. They now know he was in a morgue. How do families deal with the loss of a loved one in a natural disaster of this sort? Who do they blame? How do they react?

SALTZ: You know, unfortunately the loss of a child is probably one of the most traumatic things anybody can go through and certainly in the setting of basically your town being demolished. All your support systems have been essentially affected.

And that is overwhelming. So some people who biologically have more resilience and have support still around, they may pull together, as you saw them talking about, and that may help them through the process.

But others who really temperamentally are not or have past histories of trauma or have had substantial loss and don't have support systems, those people are going to go on to quite honestly develop some probably serious mental health issues.

SPITZER: You said something important, I'm wondering if it matters in terms of the way people respond to this. This is a town --


SPITZER: Joplin is a town of about 50,000. Small, you know, almost by any context certainly compared to New York City. Does it matter, 9/11 happened here in the context of the largest metropolis in America, eight, nine million people, 14 million in the vicinity. Fifty thousand, so how does that affect the response when it's such a tightly knit community and so many people killed?

SALTZ: Well, the number of people killed relative to the number of people in this town means that probably there are only so many degrees of separation between every single person who died and people who are there. This is loss on a grand scale.

Because it is a small town, because everybody knows each other and that will make it difficult to recover from because those are permanent losses in addition to they're not trying to survive and rebuild, and that takes a long time.

So I fear for these people will be -- it will be extremely difficult and a long road. We'll be on, sadly, until the next -- to the next news story. But really the mental health fallout from this is going to last a long time.

SPITZER: All right, Dr. Gail Saltz, always great to have you here even if it is not always good news. All right, thank you.

Up next, $4 gasoline caused by the oil companies shaking us down, right? Not so says a leading Republican. He claims the Obama administration wants to keep those prices high. That amazing story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ELIOT SPITZER, HOST: We all know gas prices are out of control. Or are they? A congressional committee has made a shocking charge that prices are actually being controlled by the Obama administration, kept artificially high intentionally to force Americans to use more alternative energy sources.

Joining me from Capitol Hill is the chairman of the committee that issued this report, Congressman Darrell Issa.

Congressman, welcome. And boy, this is going to be an interesting, interesting conversation. So do I understand it, you think the Obama administration wants gas prices to go up?

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, Eliot, as you probably know, Secretary Chu said that we needed European oil prices in order to affect the change that he wanted to have. Additionally, the president said when he was campaigning for cap-and-trade that there would be huge increases that would be necessary, that we will be part of it. Now he didn't get cap-and-trade, but he is pursuing policies -- both fiscal policies and financial policies, but also policies at the EPA and other agencies that are leading to a reduction in domestic production and increase in imports and higher prices.

Now having said that, we're not looking at a vast conspiracy. We're looking at policy mistakes that are inevitably going to lead to higher prices, and policy right doing may not reduce dramatically the cost but it certainly will over time make it not rise and get it back down.

Now one policy that is not in our study -- and there's over 200 footnotes in the study -- one policy which is temporary is quantitative easing. There's no question everyone knows that commodity prices are temporarily artificially high because they've been a flight to quality that returns better than, quite frankly, t- bills. That's temporary. But most of the problems are we have the ability to raise domestic production which raises jobs and helps keep world price lower. We're not doing it. That's a policy mistake.

SPITZER: Congressman, you've said a lot of things in there. One thing I just have to respond to, I wrote a lot of articles, a lot of articles in fact having a lot of footnotes doesn't mean you're right. Trust me on that one. But I want to come back to something that's critically important --

ISSA: Eliot, it means that we want you to look at the footnotes we gave you to study. We think the study speaks for itself.

SPITZER: OK. But I want to come back to two very different issues.

ISSA: Yes.

SPITZER: There's no question that Secretary of Energy Chu at one point did say, look, if we had higher energy prices people would use less of it and maybe that would have some desirable policy impact. That's a very different thing though from saying that the White House and President Obama have intentionally been pursuing some of the policies we'll talk about in a minute in order to raise prices. Very different thing. Are you saying they've intentionally been seeking to raise prices and that's why they have not expanded some of the domestic energy as much as they could have?

ISSA: Eliot, what our study says is their policies are going to inevitably raise prices and lessen American jobs. And our primary concern on the committee is American jobs. We want that $400 billion worth of oil jobs to be in the U.S., not elsewhere. At the same time, these policies are clearly raising prices because the futures market is reacting to a 250,000 barrel-a-day drop predicted in the gulf for the next several years. Those are policy decisions that are affecting the price.

Don't get me wrong. World prices matter. We're not claiming that you're going to lower prices precipitously overnight. What we are saying in this study is policy does matter. The policy being pursued in a number of areas including some of EPA and other groups' actions are, in fact, giving Americans higher gas price and, by the way, higher energy prices on all levels.

SPITZER: OK. But Congressman, you're saying something there very differently. Of course, policy is going to have an impact on price. And with enough time we can get into the policies and we can discuss whether they're good or bad. But let me read to you from the introduction to your report or to quote from the report, I don't know if it's the introduction.

ISSA: Yes.

SPITZER: You say this, and you're referring to the policies, "can be seen as nothing less than a concerted campaign to raise the price of energy as a means to force the issue." In other words, you're saying they intend to do it. The intent -- and I know intent is a tough thing to prove sometimes, but you're saying they intended for the prices to go up. If you want to change that that's fine, but that's what you said in your report.

ISSA: Eliot --

SPITZER: Do you believe that?

ISSA: We're not backing away from the report. We find inevitable proof if you will that these policies can only have any reasonable person believe they're going to lead to higher prices. You know, EPA had chosen to literally break with tradition and pull an already existing permit simply because they wanted to relook at it. It happened to be in coal, but it was uncalled for and historically very different to undo a contract already made.

There were a myriad of policy decisions being made across the board. We see them, we annotate them, we show the American people. And yes, we reach a conclusion that this policy must be considered as part of a concerted effort to raise prices.

Now, you can make a decision that if not, that they simply want to have this policy and incidentally price raises are just an accident. But we can't be blaming oil companies. We can't be blaming everybody in a vacuum if we don't look at the actual policy. More important, Eliot, we are looking at those very high-paying oil jobs that are being lost here and put in Brazil and put in Cuba and put in other places where we're going to buy the oil from.

SPITZER: Congressman --

ISSA: And that's very disconcerting.

SPITZER: Look, Congressman, as I said, we could have a long and fascinating, I think, conversation about energy policy. But I want to ask you pointblank -- what proof do you have that they have enacted policies because intended desiring that those policies will lead to an escalation in price? What is the e-mail, the conversation, the memo, the statement made saying we want to limit the number of leases because that will drive up the price of oil?

ISSA: What we're showing is a pattern of behavior and a set of quotes made by this administration including the president and the attempt to pass cap-and-trade which clearly was going to raise the cost of carbon dramatically. They didn't get their policy in the sense of legislation. They're doing these things. It's raising prices. If they want to show that they're not intentionally doing it, then don't come before our committee as EPA did and Mineral Management's new entity and BLM and tell us, oh, no, we have more leases and we're doing all this. They're not.

The fact is they're claiming they're doing more leasing and they're being more productive and everything's rosy. They're doing this under oath while, in fact, every prediction is that the only place that we have a growth in domestic production is on private land and existing operations --

SPITZER: Congressman --

ISSA: They're simply doing better. But, Eliot, you can reach your own conclusion, read the report.

SPITZER: I hate to do it -- I hate to do it, I promise, we'll have you back. We'll continue. It's fascinating.

ISSA: Thank you.

SPITZER: It's important. I disagree with you. I don't think you've given us a shred of evidence about intent. But look, I want to continue this conversation.

ISSA: Read the report, it's on-line, Eliot.

SPITZER: All right. I have been.

All right. Congressman Darrell Issa, thank you so much for joining us.

ISSA: You're very welcome. SPITZER: Up next, the unions in Wisconsin were left for dead. But thanks to a judge's ruling they got a second chance at life. Jeff Toobin joins with the comeback story. Stay with us.


SPITZER: Joining me now one of our favorite contributors, CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, do you remember this?




SPITZER: Those were the protests in Wisconsin when Governor Scott walker proposed a controversial anti-union bill, and it got passed and signed into law today. A judge struck down that law, Jeff. Tell us about this ruling.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, some people might say it's a technicality. But at the time, the Democrats were saying to the Republicans who were intent on passing this bill, you're violating the public record -- the public records act, the public access act. It was passed anyway today. A judge in Madison said the law violated the public -- public access, public records acts. It's now off the books. We'll see whether an appeal goes forward and whether the Supreme Court gets involved.

SPITZER: It sounds like mayhem awaits us, which is always good fun for us but maybe not for the citizens of Wisconsin.

TOOBIN: We are pro-mayhem.

SPITZER: All right.

Senator Mary Lazich voted for the controversial bill. She joins us now.

Senator, welcome and thank you for chatting with us.

MARY LAZICH (R), WISCONSIN STATE SENATE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

SPITZER: So let me ask you this question. As you just heard Jeff say, and you probably know better than we do -- at one level the judge has struck this bill down because of a technicality. When it was voted out of the rules committee, there hadn't been enough hours elapsed between the time they voted it out and when it was voted on the floor of the Senate. You still have enough votes, I believe. Tell me if I'm wrong. Obviously, the Republican votes and the Senate in Wisconsin, to go through the whole thing again and do it the right way. Why haven't you done that? LAZICH: It's exceptionally rare for a judge to meddle in the legislative process, especially about a bill that isn't even enacted into law. So this is a classic case today of a judge legislating from the bench.

TOOBIN: Isn't this --

LAZICH: If the judge wants to make law, they ought to get into the legislature and be a lawmaker.

TOOBIN: Senator --

LAZICH: It was supposed to be over in the judicial branch.

TOOBIN: Isn't this why we have judges, to apply laws and see whether they've been followed?

LAZICH: Well, the judge didn't rule on the law. She's ruling on a technicality. She didn't rule about whether the law was legal or illegal. That wasn't the issue here. And for her to meddle in the legislature -- we have three co-equal branches of government. We've got the legislative branch, the judicial branch, and the executive branch. This judge has chosen to step into the executive and the legislative branch and legislate from the bench. A very leftist liberal ruling here today in Wisconsin.

SPITZER: Senator -- Senator, look, I don't want to argue with you whether this is technicality or not. It's a law that your state passed. It's on the books. It's as powerful as any other law in the state of Wisconsin. It said you must act in the following way. That's what law is all about. But you didn't answer my question.

You have the votes in the Senate. You still have Republican senators there in the majority. Why have you not gone through the process again as you could and just comply with the waiting period that is in the law of the state of Wisconsin?

LAZICH: Well, two things importantly. The budget is coming up on us. July 1 is the end of our fiscal year so we must do a budget. So will we likely have to do this again if the judges, if the judicial branch holds up the legislative process? Well, we have to do this again in some other fashion, possibly. But importantly, we have separate branches of government, as you well know. You well know there's three branches of government and the legislature functions and has its rules, it has its processes.

TOOBIN: Isn't there another --

LAZICH: And the judicial branch has its processes and --

TOOBIN: But Senator, isn't there another reason that you're not going forward with this? Is that the world looks different politically now. Governor Walker is a lot less popular. Three of your Republican colleagues are looking at getting recalled because of this very vote. Isn't the real reason you don't want to go forward is that Republicans don't want to be associated with this anymore? LAZICH: Oh, absolutely no. Absolutely no. I will tell you that Republicans are standing strong here in Wisconsin and are very united. The public spoke in November and made changes in the -- the entire -- the entire Wisconsin flipped. Our executive branch and the Senate and the assembly both flipped to Republican control. And why did that happen? There was an immense amount of spending, a lot of debt. So now we have the decision to make, what do we do?

TOOBIN: Are you --

LAZICH: Do we enact this bill, or do we tax millions of dollars to avoid what this bill would do in terms of taxation and in terms of the deficit.

TOOBIN: Are you concerned -- are you concerned that the public is going to speak when your three colleagues are up for recall and perhaps even the governor are up for recall, and the public may say we have a little buyer's remorse about our new Republican majority?

LAZICH: I don't think there's going to be buyer's remorse about this. The public is seeing what -- they have two choices right now. The public has two choices. They can obviously recall, put the Democrats back in power, and they can have an immense amount of taxation. Or they can have this bill work its will and deal with it.

We're looking at a state where 60 percent of the tax filers have adjusted low -- adjusted gross incomes of less than $40,000.

SPITZER: Senator --

LAZICH: We just don't have the dollars. So if we don't do this and you want to put the Democrats back in power, that could happen. That certainly could happen. Anything could happen here in Wisconsin these days. But it means a heck of a lot of taxation and a heck of a lot of deficit.

SPITZER: All right. Senator, look, unfortunately time has run out. I've just got to say I'm confused by your invoking the budget.

The whole premise of your passing this bill separate from the budget was that it had no fiscal impact, though it seems to me you have the votes. If you have the backbone, you have the guts, you still believed in it, you'd vote on it once again. But anyway, Senator Mary Lazich, Jeff Toobin, thanks so much for joining us.

All right. Thanks a lot, Jeff.

LAZICH: -- without the fiscal because the Democrats weren't there to do the fiscal.

SPITZER: All right. Anyway, we'll continue the conversation. I promise we will.

All right. Up next, Israel's prime minister appeared before Congress like a conquering hero. But Fareed Zakaria says he missed a golden opportunity to be a peacemaker. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: The path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been clear for 20 years. And by rejecting it, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is failing Israel. Those aren't my words. That's the estimation of one of the world's most important voices in foreign policy -- Fareed Zakaria.

I spoke with Fareed about the never-ending conflict a short time ago.


SPITZER: Fareed, as always, thank you for joining us.


SPITZER: Look, you wrote an article in today's "Washington Post" to say it is critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu is perhaps an understatement. You say he will be a comma in history. That's pretty harsh criticism. What do you mean by that?

ZAKARIA: I mean that what Netanyahu has revealed is that he really is not interested in a two-state solution. He's not interested in getting any kind of deal. At the end of the day, there's going to be a deal.

Everyone understands what the parameters of it are. The Palestinians are in many ways screwed up. The Israelis in many ways are screwed up. But we know what it's going to look like. It's going to look roughly like the deal Bill Clinton put together in 2000, land for peace. And Netanyahu is just always found some way that the -- there is a problem. When the Palestinians were divided, he said he couldn't negotiate with them because they were divided. Then they unified. He said I can't negotiate with you because you're united. When President Obama makes a tiny modification, not even clearly a modification to a stated U.S. policy, he says I can't negotiate because of that. And what that means is ultimately history is going to pass him by.

SPITZER: Let's drill down on this a little bit. The issue of whether or not there was any change in U.S. policy -- look, I don't see one but the critical phrasing was the 1967 borders, with agreed upon swaps as what you referred to the foundation for land for peace. Do you -- do you view those words as being a change in either U.S. policy or what Israel understood U.S. policy to be?

ZAKARIA: It can't be because if you look at the statements made by every Israeli and American statesman over the last 10 years, including George W. Bush, including a joint statement between Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu, they make references to the 67 borders. Now, you could say that this was the first time a U.S. president in a speech made this kind of statement. But frankly, this is the kind of Jesuitical distinction without a difference. Everyone knows the basic issue is you're starting with the '67 borders. The Israelis give back most of it. They keep some of it. In return, they swap some land to the Palestinians.

SPITZER: All right. Let me take Netanyahu's side here for a moment even though you know I agree with everything you just said.

He would say that when there was a peace accord on the table in 2000, Arafat, Bill Clinton's proposal, Arafat said no. And since then, the Palestinians themselves have taken every opportunity to reject peace. When they got Gaza back, they used Gaza and have continued to use Gaza as a launching pad for missiles. So why should we now give them more land back?

ZAKARIA: Look, there may be an argument for not doing the deal at all. That's a separate issue. But the contours of the deal is what we're talking about. The Palestinians, as I said, the Palestinians and Abba Eban's famous phrase have "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity." And they've done it in many different ways. To my mind, the Palestinians right now have been pretty responsible.

I hold no grief for the Palestinians. My basic position, Eliot, is that the Israelis in a stronger position. They are more secure. They're the strongest country in the Middle East by most measures. They have the strongest economy. They have the strongest military. They have 250 nuclear weapons. It is worth then taking some risks for peace to get this albatross off their backs.

SPITZER: Let me push back on a couple little points, though. You have Fatah, the Palestinian Authority now entering into this unity agreement with Hamas. Hamas is by everybody's understanding a terrorist organization. Is it irrational for the Israeli leadership to say you can't expect us to negotiate with them?

Look, President Obama said as much. He said you can't negotiate with them. So what should Hamas do right now? What should Fatah or what should Abbas do, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, right now to eliminate that excuse that the Israelis can very legitimately invoke not to negotiate?

ZAKARIA: Look, the IRA was committed to the destruction of, you know, terrorism while the British government was negotiating. The vast separatists were committed to terrorism while the Spanish government negotiated with them. The Kurdish terrorists were committed to it while the Turkish government negotiated with them.

I don't say that there is -- you know, that there's nothing to this problem but this is part of what happens when you have -- had a group that has been in their view struggling for national liberation and your view a terrorist organization and getting them over that bridge where they renounced violence and renounced terrorism and accepted a deal is a complicated one. I don't know that there is a cookie cutter -- cookie cutter formula that says you have to do it this way. The goal is to get to a two-state solution. And I think if the Israelis and Prime Minister Netanyahu was being creative about that, you can find ways to have, you know, kind of private off-camera conversations about this. SPITZER: I agree with everything you have just said. I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have learned how to declare victory. The speech that President Obama gave was so powerful in support of critical issues that are essential to Israel's security from the point about Hamas, as it related to going to the U.N. this September, as it related to the issue of right of return. Everybody knows that -- will not be their Palestinian refugees will not be permitted to return and overwhelm the state of Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu should have declared victory and said we are with you, we will walk with you towards peace. He would have looked good.

Having said that, his poll numbers back in Israel have gone through the roof, way, way up since he gave that speech in Congress. He's playing to his domestic electorate and maybe that is part of this.

So, Fareed, time runs out but as always your wisdom on this is appreciated and we all learn from you. Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Eliot.



SPITZER: Thanks for joining us IN THE ARENA. Good night from New York.

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.