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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Amnesty Battle: First Major Vote on Deal; Fighting Amnesty; Whose America?

Aired May 22, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, growing divisions in Republican and Democratic parties over the so-called "grand amnesty compromise". The first major vote on that compromise is occurring right now.
We'll have complete coverage for you.

Also, you won't believe some of the measures included in that amnesty bill, and the huge costs facing taxpayers.

We'll have the full story.

And is the Bush administration putting the interests of Mexico ahead of the interests of American citizens in this legislation? Well, as it turns out, other questions arise as well. Is the White House using amnesty to create a North American union?

We'll have the full report. A leading advocate of closer links with Mexico and Canada will join us to explain what that means.

All of that, all the day's news, a lot more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, May 22nd.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

The Senate tonight could vote for major changes in the so-called "grand amnesty compromise" less than a week after the deal was announced. Senators are expected to vote on two measures -- one demanding the elimination of the so-called guest worker program that the president says is absolutely essential to border security, the other calling for a sharp reduction in the number of temporary workers.

The first of those votes is now taking place. We'll have that just as soon as it occurs.

And meanwhile, there's rising concern over the huge cost to American taxpayers for this illegal immigration bill. There are also concerns the legislation would give advantages to illegal aliens that are denied to American citizens.

Dana Bash reports tonight from Capitol Hill on the first major test of this amnesty legislation.

Lisa Sylvester reports tonight on the growing divisions within the Republican Party over the legislation.

And Bill Tucker is here tonight with a report on the many taxpayer-funded measures that are included in this legislation, but in fine print.

We turn first to Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, as we speak, senators are casting their very first votes in this immigration debate. And if you want an indication, evidence of just how much opposition there is from all sides of the political aisle, all sides of the spectrum, just take a look at this vote. It is a Democratic measure that would get rid of a major part of what negotiators call a fragile compromise.


BASH (voice over): The first direct assault on a bipartisan immigration proposal is being launched from the left. Democrats trying to torpedo a temporary worker program.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: It is a pool of cheap labor at the expense of the American worker. It's as simple as that.

BASH: At issue? A plan to allow between 400,000 and 600,000 guest workers into the U.S. per year for two-year terms to mostly work low-skilled jobs, like service industries, everything from restaurant to landscaping.

Many labor unions are pressing lawmakers to oppose it, saying it would create a permanent working underclass in the U.S. Immigrant advocates say it's wrong to bring non-U.S. citizens into the country to work temporarily with little chance to put down roots. Democrats against the program call it a ploy by big business to avoid increasing Americans' wages.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Even as we see all too often the export of American jobs in search of cheap labor in China and the rest of Asia, the same enterprises in many cases wish to bring in cheap labor through the back door.

BASH: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying hard for a temporary worker program for years and insists it will help businesses fill jobs Americans won't do, not suppress Americans' pay.

RANDY JOHNSON, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We're not saying to use immigrant workers just haphazardly. It's only after you go through a very rigorous test of the U.S. labor market and you pay the same wages or more to immigrant workers that you pay to U.S. workers.


BASH: Now, Lou, we are still waiting for a final vote on that measure that you just heard about. We are expecting it not to pass, meaning that the guest worker program in this particular vote is likely to remain in this bill. But it is very likely that another measure that could come up for a vote probably tomorrow to cut the program in half will likely pass.

Now, a Republican senator, a key negotiator in this, says that that will likely throw the compromise off kilter, but not off track. As you know, we are going to have a lot of challenges to this measure from all sides of the political spectrum -- Lou.

DOBBS: This measure, this amendment, sponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan, is it expected to be close this vote?

BASH: It's actually expected to be a lot closer than it was last year. He proposed the same thing, striking a guest worker program last year. It got 29 votes.

We were just talking to leaders -- the leadership sources, who said that they weren't sure how close it's going to be, but it's going to be a lot closer, they think, than it was last year. Perhaps an indicator of where this debate is going, but we'll let you know as soon as we see it.

DOBBS: And if it needs to be underscored, the arrogance of the Democratic leadership here, Dana, it was just last week they were saying any effort to amend this legislation or make a substantive change would simply end their efforts.

Are they still making the same comments? Are they as bellicose on that and arrogant as they were?

BASH: Well, when you listen to the people who were in the room hatching out this particular bill on the floor, they were very passionate, saying, don't vote for anything that changes it. But in terms of the Democratic leadership, for example, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, he will probably vote against eliminating the guest worker program, but you can expect him to vote in favor of cutting in half.

So, there certainly is some opposition or uncomfortableness, if you will, from members of the Democratic leadership and Republican leadership.

DOBBS: And that discomfort is only likely to become more acute when these good senators return home for the Memorial Day recess next week.

BASH: You bet. No question.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you.

Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

Senate Republicans are also sharply divided as well over this grand compromise. Pro-amnesty Republicans who work with Democrats on the compromise are facing strong criticism from members of their own party. Those Republican opponents are furious with many of the pro- illegal alien measures in this bill, as Lisa Sylvester now reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More than a hundred protesters lined up outside Senator Jon Kyl's Phoenix office. Signs read, "Two-faced." Another sign touted "Kyl's New Colors".

Last year, Kyl voted against the Senate amnesty bill. This year, he helped co-author legislation to grant legal status to millions of illegal aliens.

Kyl tried to explain his actions on the Senate floor.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: In a body of 100 senators that are supposed to try to work together to find solutions to problems, do you not at least acknowledge that every now and then you have to sit down and talk to each other, even when you are on the other side of the aisle?

SYLVESTER: Along with Kyl, fellow Republican senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Mel Martinez and Johnny Isakson worked with pro-amnesty Democrats. Many of their critics say those Republicans gave up too much.

DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMER. IMMIG. REFORM: It contains promises that have proven illusory in the past, that contains deadlines that have been repeatedly missed by DHS with no consequences. It contains promises of future enforcement that in and of themselves will not stop illegal immigration.

SYLVESTER: Under the bill, illegal aliens would gain legal status within 24 hours of submitting an application, even if their background checks are not complete. They could stay in the United States indefinitely as long as they renew their Z visa. And while illegal aliens would have to pay fines and fees, they would not have to pay back taxes.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I have tried to pay my taxes, most Americans pay their taxes. Somebody comes here illegally and makes $50,000, $80,000 a year -- I don't know, some do -- they don't pay taxes, and we're just going to wipe that out? I don't think so.

SYLVESTER: The bipartisan coalition of senators led by Kyl and Kennedy will try to keep the core provisions of the legislation, including the Z visa and guest worker program intact. But to do so, they'll have to defeat dozens of proposed amendments.


SYLVESTER: And senators will return to their home districts next week. And during that time, they'll have to justify this bill, not on the Senate floor, but directly to their constituents -- Lou.

DOBBS: And that ought to be an interesting process to watch. We will of course be watching that. We'll be following those developments in the various home states of these senators in particular.

Lisa, what is the mood there in the Senate? Because as we're going to report here tonight, there are elements of this legislation that no matter what your views are on open borders, illegal alien amnesty, I assure you, no matter what your views on this, you're going to find elements of this legislation to be absolutely outrageous.

SYLVESTER: There are a number of surprises that are just coming to light, and part of it is because of this process. It was done in secret. Many of the senators just saw the language over the weekend for the first time, and they are actually just getting the bill itself.

They just got that today, so it's -- a lot of surprises. Hold on to your seat.

DOBBS: Oh, absolutely. Guaranteed, Lisa. Thank you very much.

Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

Well, there is a lot of passion, and considerable passion in this debate. And you may wonder who those extremists are in this debate.

Are they on the far fringes in the pro-illegal alien wide open borders advocacy groups? Are they over there in some of those hate groups that just want to end immigration, period? Well, not exactly.

If you want to learn a little bit about just how deep the passions run, we would like to ask to you listen to these two voices. One a highly -- a high appointed official. The other elected to the United States Senate. Both of them strong supporters of this grand amnesty compromise.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I understand there are some people who expect anything other than capital punishment is an amnesty.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We are going to solve this problem. We're not going to run people down. We're not going to scapegoat people. We're going to tell the bigots to shut up and we're going to get this right.


DOBBS: I've got to believe the people of South Carolina are extraordinarily proud of Senator Lindsey Graham with that kind of language. I've got to believe that President Bush is just tickled pink with Michael Chertoff, his secretary of Homeland Security, talking about capital punishment as a moral, if you will, equivalent of amnesty.

That's what we're dealing with in this national debate.

Some news coming in right now from the Senate floor. The Senate has just voted, and they have voted to reject Senator Byron Dorgan's amendment, as expected, to end that proposed guest worker program and the illegal immigration grand compromise.

Dana Bash, as expected, let's have the vote. And what's happening?

BASH: It was 31-64. So it was pretty soundly defeated, this particular measure, which, as you said, would have just gotten rid of the guest worker program all together.

Some of the proponents of this compromise were worried that it would get a lot more. In fact, there was a point today where they thought that perhaps there was a chance it was going to pass, but it came nowhere close. So, now, if you are a member of the negotiating team, you are quite happy that they passed the first measure.

DOBBS: Excuse me, Dana.

BASH: Yes, sure.

DOBBS: We're looking at live pictures here of Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Let's hear what the senator is saying.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: ... we're very farsighted in extending the time beyond this week where we could actually consider amendments on the bill, because I think there is a real need to have a full and fair debate and a free opportunity to offer amendments, because, frankly, there are a lot of people that don't know what's in this bill yet. The final bill text was I guess filed last night.

DOBBS: Senator John Cornyn, who, by the way, has been extraordinarily critical of both the president and Senator Kennedy's team in leading this compromise, Dana Bash. It sounds like -- it sounds like he's anticipating a little more say in what's going to transpire now in any debate.

BASH: He certainly is. In fact, you know, we just talked about the first amendment. There are going to be several, perhaps even scores of amendments coming down the pike for the next couple of weeks. And Senator Cornyn, you can be sure, is going to be one who is going to offer several to try to change, for example, the provision that allows illegal immigrants to stay legally.

DOBBS: Dana, we had a picture up earlier of Senator Edward Kennedy. We're now looking at Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader. But, you know, I have noticed that a lot of people have not reported on Senator Kennedy's involvement in the debacle that has been U.S. immigration policy dating back to 1965, when President Johnson signed into law the legislation that opened up explosive chain migration, going back to 1986 with the amnesty legislation in which President Reagan assured us that there would be absolute enforcement at the border and employer sanctions. And he played again a prominent role in that.

Why has his history been so elusive to journalists, do you think?

BASH: Well, Senator Kennedy has a long history on a lot of issues around here, that's for sure, Lou. But I certainly...

DOBBS: I doubt he has got a history on any issue that reaches back as far or is as tumultuous or has had as negative an impact as the initiatives that he's been involved with on immigration.

BASH: Well, here's what I can tell you on that particular issue, is that this is why that he -- someone like him worked closely with somebody like, for example, Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona. Because there is such -- such diverse opinions on each perspective that they needed to come together from various points in the political spectrum in order to even have this have a chance of getting on the floor.

DOBBS: Dana, I appreciate it. We're going to have to break away.

I look forward to a recounting of the history of this particular senator. And the two luminaries, of course, President Bush and Senator Kennedy, leading the way on this particular effort. Thank you very much.

Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead here, new developments in the war funding dispute between the Bush administration and congressional Democrats.

Also, a leading advocate of closer ties between the United States and Mexico. And of course, among Mexico, the United States and Canada. He'll be with us.

He says, among other things, I'm a fear monger in this North American union thing, and I'm sure he will set me straight.

We'll also have a special report on the little noticed provisions in this grand compromise legislation. Provisions, for example, that would help illegal aliens achieve a certain amount of legal representation at your expense.

Rising support tonight for cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and Immigration Customs Enforcement, whatever local politicians say.

We'll have that report, a great deal more straight ahead.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Senate today proposing changes to that grand compromise as new details emerge from the almost 400 pages of draft legislation. One thing is abundantly clear -- for American taxpayers this is a costly proposition.

Bill Tucker has a number of the details.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When senators talk about their immigration bill, they like to emphasize border security. They don't mention a proposal that would force taxpayers for the first time ever to pay for the lawyers for illegal aliens and take legal services away from America's poor.

KEN BOEHM, NATIONAL LEGAL & POLICY CENTER: You're short-changing them to help somebody who broke the law. You are rewarding somebody who did something wrong and punishing these people who now might not be able to get a lawyer.

TUCKER: The bill would give illegal aliens priority over Americans in poverty. Other unmentionables include the Z visa. It's called a temporary visa, but it can be renewed indefinitely for the life of the visa holder. No other visa is so generous.

All background checks on those applying for amnesty must be completed within 24 hours, although there is no justification why and plenty of reason to suggest that complete background checks can't be done so quickly.

Gang members would be given amnesty if they renounce their gang membership. If an illegal alien is arrested in an enforcement raid and might be eligible for amnesty, the government must provide help in applying for the Z visa and release the illegal alien.

KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW INST.: This is just shocking on its face. And I think that's part of the reason why the authors of this bill have not made it public. Most of the Senate has not seen this bill yet.

TUCKER: Another unnoticed provision? The bill would change the law and reduce the southern border fencing project from 854 miles, to 370 miles, to only 200 miles.


TUCKER: And if this bill passes, never, ever should anyone who is ordered deported from this country leave, because under the bill, absconders will be eligible for amnesty. Those who follow the law and follow a judge's deportation order, Lou, if they go home, they will not be eligible for amnesty.

DOBBS: Well, that's a metaphor here. I mean, if you follow the law, you're punished under this legislation.

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: If you don't, you are rewarded. Hence the expression "amnesty".

The idea that American taxpayers would be paying for legal representation, explain that.

TUCKER: I can't explain it. I even talked to an immigration lawyer today who thought it was a bit misguided as well.

It's never, ever been done historically. Historically, they have been forbidden to give money to illegal aliens for legal aid.

DOBBS: Right. Again, I will say, no matter what your position on illegal immigration or amnesty or open borders, how extreme your view may be on either side of it, if you truly can come to any conclusion that suggests that the Senate is making sense here, I -- I can't even imagine. It's crazy.

Thank you very much.

Bill Tucker.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts now.

Vincent in Illinois said, "As a Democrat, I'm very upset that my party uses the polls and the will of the people to justify their position against the Iraq war direction, while on the immigration direction they totally ignore those polls and the will of the people.

Joy in North Carolina, "It's not that the American people Don't want the jobs illegal aliens are doing. It's that the American people want to be paid more than $12,000 a year when prices of gasoline, housing and food are going up. It's an insult when they say 'the jobs Americans won't do' when I am working at a meat packing plant making only $6.15 an hour."

Roger in Ohio said, "Mr. Dobbs, you delve for the truth no matter the topic, or who you interview. You're not afraid to tell it like it is. I really enjoy watching and listening to your segments."

And we thank you.

From Caronmaries, however, who does not tell us exactly where she's from, "Try telling the truth dirtbag."

We'll have more of your thoughts later in the broadcast.

Former Senator Fred Thompson says the Senate's grand compromise is likely to fail because the American public simply doesn't believe the government. Thompson is a possible candidate for the Republican 2008 presidential nomination, saying the legislation won't win the support of the public. And he said Americans don't trust the senators to live up to their promises.

Thompson said, "Nobody believes them. It goes to the bigger issue of their lack of credibility our government has these days."

Members of the audience were impressed by his lack of political jargon and his plainspoken approach to the issues at hand.

We'd like to know what you think. In tonight's poll, we're asking simply: Do you agree with Fred Thompson that our elected representatives in Washington have a total lack of credibility these days? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at We'll have results here later in the broadcast.

As America's frustration with our elected officials grows, some Americans -- more of them, actually, than ever -- are calling themselves Independent. According to an average of CNN-Public Opinion Research Corporation polls, 42 percent of all Americans now consider themselves Independent -- 42 percent. Thirty-three percent in those polls identify themselves as Democrats. And 25 percent identify themselves as Republican.

I have to say it. Yeehaw!

Coming up next, the Senate's immigration compromise, some language that recognizes a partnership that doesn't exist, but will advance that partnership among the United States, Canada and Mexico. I'll be talk with Robert Pastor, a proponent of what he calls a North American community. He doesn't like me calling it a North American union.

He has accused me of fear mongering. I'm scared (ph). We'll clear the air.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: In the hundreds of pages of legislation in the Senate's grand compromise, one section addresses Mexico domestic policy, calling for strengthening, economic and social standards in Mexico, with the help of the U.S. government, and, of course, taxpayers as a way to curtail illegal immigration.

Christine Romans reports.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's called Section 413, proposed American law dealing exclusively with the domestic policy of Mexico. The theory, that helping Mexico will reduce illegal immigration.

Section 413 promises U.S. help in getting financial services to Mexico's poor and under-served populations, expanding effort to reduce the transaction costs of remittance flows, helping the Mexican government to strengthen education and job training, and increasing health care access for the poor in Mexico. And it encourages Mexico to create incentives for Mexicans to return home.

Critic says this should already be the job of the Mexican government. GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY: They spend frightfully small amounts on health care, on education, on job training. And now I think they want to pull the wool over the Americans' eyes and have American taxpayers foot the bill for responsibilities that the Mexican elite should be assuming.

ROMANS: Furthermore, Section 413 asks the U.S. Congress to ramp up the six-year-old bilateral Partnership for Prosperity and highlights the broader North American Security and Prosperity Partnership. "The U.S. and Mexico should accelerate he implementation of the Partnership for Prosperity to help generate economic growth and improve the standard of living in Mexico, which will lead to reduced migration."

TOM FITTON, JUDICIAL WATCH: They are being asked to give a rubberstamp to the Security Prosperity Partnership, the Partnership on Prosperity, and the discussions with Mexico and Canada that talk about economic, energy, transportation, health services and insurance integration.

ROMANS: Section 413 also calls for a U.S.-Mexican partnership to examine "uncompensated and burdensome health care costs incurred by the United States due to legal and illegal immigration."


ROMANS: What this means is a coordinated effort to help Mexico improve prenatal, trauma and emergency care in border areas, and a partnership between the two countries to find ways to ensure temporary workers and return injured workers to Mexico for long-term treatment -- Lou.

DOBBS: The more we look at this, the more idiotic. What in the world are these elitists -- what are they thinking about? It's incomprehensible.

ROMANS: This particular Section 413 has a lot of different things in there, from health care, to the SPP, to this bilateral agreement that's already six years old between the United States and Mexico, to lowering remittance costs so that people in the United States can send money back to Mexico more cheaply. In theory, to invest it in the Mexican economy.

DOBBS: We have -- forgive me, Christine, but we have truly entered a bizarre place, where the president of the United States, President George W. Bush, is representing the interests of Mexican citizens in this country, and Congress, our Senate, is attempting to impose a law that is appropriately the purview of the Mexican legislature.

Could it get more -- any more upside down? I don't even want to think about the possibility if the answer were yes.

ROMANS: Well, Lou, there are so many more pages to go through. That was just two pages of 380, right there.

DOBBS: Well, we've got a long few weeks ahead of us, so there will be plenty for you to go through.

Christine, thanks.

Christine Romans.

The Senate's draft legislation also restates the goals of security and prosperity partnership of North America, which would reduce or do away with trade and other border -- cumbersome border restrictions among the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Joining me now is Robert Pastor. He's vice president of international affairs at American University, director of the Center for North American Studies.

Robert, good to have you here.

ROBERT PASTOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: It's good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: All right, let's start with it. What in the world are we trying to do here, we elitists who want to make it so less cumbersome to traffic commerce among Canada, the United States, Mexico, and move people and goods so much more efficiently?

PASTOR: Well, I think the premise is that if Canada and Mexico develop very well and they progress, this is in our interests as well. That's the portion of the bill that you were just hearing.

DOBBS: OK. Who is we? I'm a little lost on that. American people haven't voted on it. Congress hasn't voted on it.

PASTOR: It's me and you, and it's the American people will benefit from increasing trade, increasing investment. And Mexicans and Canadians will benefit as well.

And in fact, the Congress did pass, of course, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and this is before the Congress now, to debate and to see whether they will pass that as well.

DOBBS: Well, let's hope, Robert, that you all get a little surprise from this Congress. I have to tell you, I frankly will be surprised as well.

Here's what you wrote, "I do not propose a North America union; I propose a North American community. A community composed of three sovereign governments that seek to strengthen the bonds of cooperation. Each government retains the power to decide whether and how to cooperate."

How is that different from a North American union?

PASTOR: A North American union is like the United States. It's a unified, centralized state. Neither Mexico, Canada, nor the United States want to dissolve their borders to create one single state.

DOBBS: Well, if they're not -- let me ask you this. In point of fact, are you creating a perimeter of security, and you are basically crossing those borders at will -- for example, the pilot project on Mexican trucking -- I mean, what is -- I just don't quite see the difference between that and a North American union, as you would have it.

PASTOR: Well, the difference between the North American union and North American community is that there would be one government in one place in all three countries, instead of three separate governments.

DOBBS: But if you are ignoring and diminishing the sovereignty of three governments, how is that different than having one government?

PASTOR: Well, you are not diminishing the sovereignty of any of the three governments any more than when Canada decided to open up its oil and energy to foreign investment. There were some people who accused it of diminishing their sovereignty. In fact, it has become now one of the great energy exporters in the world.

So you are not diminishing sovereignty. You are enhancing the autonomy, enhancing the welfare of all three peoples by freer trade.

DOBBS: Well, don't you think there should be a straightforward vote on this? Because as technocrats, business executives, and academics and other elites meet in private, and often, if not always, without the transparency of the media being there, the press, don't you think it would be just a lot more straightforward for you all to put forward the agenda, let Congress debate it, let the legislature in Canada and Mexico do so as well, rather than stay under the imprimatur of NAFTA, which is a disaster in so many respects in Mexico and in the United States?

PASTOR: Well, first of all, I don't agree that NAFTA was a disaster...

DOBBS: I know.

PASTOR: ... but I do believe that each of the proposals we've talked about do need to be debated. They do need to be debated in the Congress, and they won't be approved unless all three countries approve them.

DOBBS: And with the United States suffering immense trade deficits with both Canada and Mexico, more than 120 -- approaching 125 billion a year -- what is driving us to do this?

PASTOR: Well, I think we've seen over the last 13 years, since NAFTA came into effect, trade has tripled, foreign direct investment...

DOBBS: Partner, I'm just asking you a simple question.

PASTOR: ... in the (inaudible) countries increased by a factor of...

DOBBS: The fact of that trade is a $125 billion deficit, Robert. What is driving our interest here?

PASTOR: Well, what makes you think that deficit among close neighbors like this is necessarily negative? It means, for example, that we're importing more goods that are cheaper and of a higher quality, so as consumers we benefit from a deficit.

DOBBS: I know. And we benefit from not having control of our own borders, we benefit from having all of you elites decide what the future is without our elected representatives expressing the will of the American people, and I know you think...

PASTOR: I see. You're...

DOBBS: ... that's a much improved and better world. I just don't happen to agree with you.

Come back, we'll talk about it another time. Robert Pastor, thanks for being here.

PASTOR: Well, it's good to be with a member of the public and the people, not just an elite like the rest of us, huh, Lou?

DOBBS: Bless your heart.

PASTOR: Bye-bye.

DOBBS: Up next, Democrats retreat in the war funding battle with the Bush White House. We'll have the latest. Also, the Senate debate on the so-called grand amnesty compromise intensifies. I'll be joined by four of the country's top radio talk show hosts, to tell us what their listeners are thinking, saying about this highly charged issue, among others.

And a number of Democrats now say their own party sold out. Working men and women in this country over the issue of free trade. Two of those Democrats join us. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Congressman Brad Sherman. They're next, stay with us.


DOBBS: Democratic leaders still under fire for approving a compromise with the Bush administration on free trade. Critics saying that deal hurts American workers and defies the traditions of the Democratic Party. Many of those critics, Democrats themselves, leading Democrats.

Among them, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Congressman Brad Sherman of California, joining us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Good to have you here.

Let me start, if I may, with you, Congresswoman Kaptur. What is going on? Because this deal is conducted in secrecy. Where are we headed here?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: We're not headed in a very positive direction, Lou. The Ways and Means Committee chairman and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade very quietly, evidently, negotiated agreements with the Bush administration on Peru and Panama, and they didn't -- and they did it in a way that they didn't inform the members, they didn't invite our participation.

The administration really negotiates the agreement that they were reaching some type of policy compromises with the administration with no sunlight. And so we were presented a fait accompli, and we still do not have the documents before us.

DOBBS: Well, Congresswoman Kaptur is on the committee -- the subcommittee you chair, Congressman Sherman. I mean, where is the leadership here? Are we headed toward approval of fast-track authority by this Democratic Congress, which was elected in part to represent the middle-class working men and women in this country last November?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I sure hope not. And I know that the Bush administration is ready to make a whole bunch of what they consider to be concessions, but they are concessions that will be illusory, concessions that will never be enforced. And I hope very much that there is no move to bring fast track to the floor.

When I say fast track, we have already got these four agreements that under law come to the floor for a vote and we'll probably pass...

DOBBS: South Korea, Colombia, Panama and Peru. Correct?

SHERMAN: Yes. And some of them may pass, chiefly with Republican votes. But fast track is a bill that opens the door to more of these agreements, beyond those four.

DOBBS: Another five years of what we've had.

SHERMAN: Exactly. And you can put a little lipstick on the pig, it's still a pig. And we should not have fast track on the floor.

If it ever were to come to the floor, most Democrats would vote against it. But the key for us is to not even have it come to the floor.

DOBBS: Congresswoman Kaptur, you and Congressman Sherman represent the conscience of the Democratic Party on trade, working men and women of this country.

What does your leadership say? What is the speaker saying? Speaker Pelosi? What -- Steny Hoyer? And of course, Charlie Rangel, who I've talked with and I'm still not sure where he stands on fast track?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR, (D) OHIO: Well, Speaker Pelosi left the meeting today. She did say she that if members wanted to speak with her about it, she was available for that. I think its important that Democrats across this country and Republicans across this country and Independents across this country who know that trade is not working for America. It is not working for the middle class, we continue to see more outsourced jobs. If you look at the oil industry, there is a global industry for you. Look what's happening to gas prices in this country. We are not in charge of our own future. We have to speak out and get trade agreements here that give us a new model for trade and stop outsourcing our jobs.

DOBBS: Congressman Sherman, your thoughts? You get the last word here tonight.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, we in -- people in Washington have been talking about labor standards and environmental standards. First this agreement doesn't provide enforceable standards. Nothing gets enforced unless Bush wants to take an action adverse to a multinational corporation. I don't think that's going to happen.

DOBBS: He's been very aggressive. His administration has been very aggressive in the first six years.

SHERMAN: The second thing is, that what Americans want is not just environmental and labor standards in Peru, we want to eliminate the trade deficit and fast track isn't going to do that. In fact, the Korea deal, the administration already admits, means more jobs going to Korea.

DOBBS: Alright, well we thank you very much as always. Thank you both. Congresswoman Kaptur and Congressman Sherman, thank you.

And I sincerely mean this, good luck and best wishes. A reminder now to vote in our poll. The question is do you agree with Fred Thompson that our elected representatives in Washington have a total lack of credibility these days? Yes or no. Cast your vote at we will have those votes upcoming. Up next, a California politician who voted to ban cell phones while driving. You guessed it, we'll have that story and I'll be talking with four of the country's best radio talk show hosts about the issues of the day. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A California state senator from San Francisco who voted to ban the use of cell phones while driving being blamed for causing a car accident, you guessed it, because she was reaching for her ringing cell phone. Carol Mingdon behind the wheel of her new state-issued SUV, Friday when she reached for the phone, she crashed into another vehicle. That car then hit a minivan stopped at a red light. The senator wasn't hurt. The driver of the car she rear ended did suffer minor injuries. And last year Mingdon voted for that new law penalizing drivers caught using a cell phone without a hands free device. However, she is not going to have to pay a fine, the law doesn't go into July of next year. Senator Mingdon issued a statement saying she is very grateful -- seriously -- that no one was seriously hurt. And no one hurt seriously beyond her own reputation.

But we're used that to that with politicians. I'm joined now by four of the country's top radio talk show hosts. Here in New York, from WOR Steve Mallzberg, Joe Madison WOL in Washington, great to have you up here, Joe. An CNN Contributor, radio show host, all around good guy from WVO in Chicago, Roland Martin. From Las Vegas, syndicated radio show host, Jerry Doyle. Good of you to join us.

Let me start with you out in Las Vegas.

JERRY DOYLE, RADIO SHOW HOST: Just one thing before you get started.

DOBBS: Sure.

DOYLE: I just want to thank you for having Congressman Brad Sherman on. It's my first time on your show. My first time on CNN and I follow Brad Sherman, the guy I lost to in my congressional race in 2000. I thank you.

By the way, I had him on my radio show last year and I said I concede.

DOBBS: OK. Well, I'm an independent, you guys are going to have to work that out. I don't have a dog in this ...

DOYLE: I left the Republican party. I left the Republican party two years ago.

DOBBS: Alright welcome -- welcome to the light.

Senator Harry Reid, you got to love him. I suppose. But what in the world is he doing on this grand compromise here?

DOYLE: Well, today I guess he decided that it would be in the best interests of the Senate to not go forward on some comprehensive immigration reform package. I guess there are other more important things he has to get to, like telling us all about his little fairy tale life in Search Light, Nevada. But I look at this -- I had Senator John Cornyn on the program yesterday talking about this issue and it was 380 pages, possibly 800 pages. I said, why don't we boil it down to something as simple as we did the constitution with 27 amendments in the last oh, 216 years. It's overly complicated and it's not a complicated issue. If we do what we have with laws on the books, it's very doable.

DOBBS: I agree with you. Roland?

ROLAND MARTIN, RADIO SHOW HOST: The bottom line is I'm trying to figure out who is this bill supposed to benefit?

DOBBS: Well, there's a good question.

MARTIN: I mean, I have consistently told my audience, and they all agree, this is not nine or ten of my callers say I'm against it. It's about 9.8 out of 10 absolutely against it. It is the job of the Mexican president to figure out their economy. Its not the President of the United States and so you have Americans sitting here going I don't really have a dog in this game, I am trying to figure out what's going on. JOE MADISON, RADIO SHOW HOST: Well that's the thing. There's no constituency. A couple of things. Any time you hear comprehensive in Washington, watch out.

First of all, how do you take something as complex as this and not go through a process? And I think that's what everybody is saying.

DOBBS: You mean do some fact finding. Actually know ...

MADISON: Like how much is it going to cost? Let's start there. You know, but you go through a process. Because it is complicated there is no national constituency for this. For like, Roland, the black community, I'll tell you, something, when the congressional black caucus goes home, they are going to hear it. Oh they are going to get a lot of heat. Now of course, it's in their vested interest, because they have to try to get re-elected, but there is no natural constituency.

STEVE MALLZBERG, WOR IN NEW YORK: Which is why Nancy Pelosi says she needs 70 Republicans, at least, to get this passed in the House. She doesn't need any Republicans if every Democrat would vote for it.

DOBBS: When President Bush says he's looking for a legacy who would have thought he would be looking for it in Mexico?

MALLZBERG: Well, you know, it's not a great surprise. Because he supported the Senate bill last year, and most Republicans have gone their separate ways from President Bush on this issue. This is outrageous.

MARTIN: But don't forget, that was the only country he visited before he became president. So --

MADISON: But this is a government of oligarchy and plutocracy, remember those two words because that's exactly what is happening. It is not about Democrats or Republicans its oligarchy and plutocracy.

DOBBS: There is another ocracy I kind of like here as descriptive anyway, not in it's reality. Kleptocracy. We're watching a nation of wonderful people who have a proud 200-year tradition being run by a bunch of thieves, and I'm not discriminating on the basis of party affiliation here.

MALZBERG: Your program has pointed out some things tonight that a lot of people certainly weren't aware of. And you talk about the cost. We don't have any idea of the cost but it looks like we'll be supporting the Mexican government in their effort to turn their country around.

DOBBS: Well, you know --

DOYLE: Congressman Jeff Lake was talking about earmarks and he was talking about how -- when the Democrats came in it was going to be a clean house, above board, sunshine on everybody's information. Bills would be noted. Earmarks laid out. And now he said, meet the new boss, same as the old boss and what we have is double the number in the last Senate bill that went through, with earmarks and same thing in the House. And they are just -- they don't care what American people think. And that's where the outrage is out there. Not Republican or Democrat. But moderate middle Americans say what about me?

DOBBS: We'll find out about what about me in just a moment when we continue with our panel. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up in just a few minutes here in THE SITUATION ROOM, going green, the New York City taxi fleet. I'll talk about it with the mayor, Michael Bloomberg. I'll ask him about the major environmental initiative he announced today and ask him about his own White House ambitions.

Also, what do Muslims living in America think of suicide bombings? We're going to show you some disturbing results in a new survey.

And Venezuela's anti-American president gets into the movie business. He is teaming up with a major American star.

All that coming up, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues in just moment.


DOBBS: We're back now with our radio panel. And Jerry Doyle, I want to ask you, we're talking about a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Gonzales. (inaudible) saying he's going to resign. Should he? What do you think he is going to happen?

DOYLE: I don't recall. I'm just going to give that answer 74 times.


DOBBS: Can I rephrase the question?


MADISON: Jerry, we're on the air!

DOYLE: I don't recall.

MARTIN: I thought that was Ronald Reagan at the Iran-Contra hearings.


MALZBERG: The president is sticking by Gonzales. He didn't do anything wrong. He really didn't do anything wrong. (CROSSTALK)

MALZBERG: This was handled so poorly from day one, Lou. The attorney general should have said, we can fire any attorney we want to, we did it, and that's it, good-bye. Instead, mistakes were made, we didn't know this, we didn't know that.


DOBBS: ... I mean, are you kidding?

MALZBERG: No, I'm very serious.


MADISON: Well, first of all, he shouldn't have been -- well, first of all, he shouldn't have even been appointed attorney general after showing up in Ashcroft's hospital room trying to get him to sign something that he didn't want to sign in the first place. But we didn't know about that, and wouldn't have known about it had there not been testimony.

Bottom line, you don't fire attorneys...

DOYLE: You're not suggesting it would have been a scene from "Million Dollar Baby," where Clint Eastwood pulls the ventilator, do you?

MADISON: Yes, and you don't fire -- I'm sorry, Ronald, go ahead.

MARTIN: You know, Steve is really bothered by this. But it reminds where the conservatives are going -- Bill Clinton said, you know, the question of what is, is? He was just trying to parse it. Steve, you are parsing. You're absolutely right...


MARTIN: You're right. Technically, it was all legal. But it was idiotic, it was stupid. You would think that the top attorney in the nation might be a bit smarter.

MALZBERG: He should resign because they didn't go after Sandy Berger, and they didn't press for jail time for Sandy Berger. They didn't go after the leakers of the CIA prisons. They didn't go after the leakers of the NSA spy programs.

MADISON: He should resign because he lost his mind...

MALZBERG: That's why he should resign.

MADISON: He should resign because he lost his mind, because he can't remember anything.

DOBBS: You know, the older I get, I get a little more easy on that.


DOBBS: Well, let's listen to what Senator John McCain had to say, speaking of...

MADISON: Losing your mind?

DOBBS: Whatever. Let's hear what he said.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: As I mentioned, maybe he can get out that varmint gun of his and chase those Guatemalans off his lawn.


DOBBS: Referring, of course, to Mitt Romney.

DOYLE: Can we predict a day when John McCain is going to go supernova?

DOBBS: Well, at this rate, it's going to get a little easier, I think.

MARTIN: That was a light moment. What's the big deal?

MADISON: Oh, you're just agitating. It was unpresidential. First of all, he didn't know that the guys were -- you know, who worked for him, lawn care service, you don't -- a president doesn't talk about getting his gun out and shooting Guatemalans.

MARTIN: No, he talks about getting his gun out and shooting Osama.

DOBBS: I don't think voters do either, by the way.

MARTIN: Dick Cheney gets his gun out and shoots his best friend.


MALZBERG: ... run for the presidency (inaudible).


MADISON: If this is the interview process for the job, I'd hate to see him on the job.

MARTIN: I can't believe that Joe and Steve are so offended by this, being radio talk show hosts. What the heck else would we talk about? OK? We should be praising John McCain every day.

MADISON: First of all, we didn't talk about it.


MALZBERG: His run is over, because he's one of the six senators that stood up there and said amnesty, amnesty. That's why his run is over. He's done now.

MARTIN: He's great for my show.


DOBBS: And with all -- with all of that, are we going to see, Jerry Doyle, a third-party candidate? We've got Just a few seconds here. Give me your best shot.

DOYLE: Your poll said 42 percent was the number for independents. The "Wall Street Journal" poll last year, 45 percent would like to see an independent candidate run in the 2008 election, but I think there is such a political lock that the left and the right have on the political machine in this country that it's virtually impossible. I think it has to be somebody within the party to run a different campaign for the party to get a message out there to the vast majority of people.

MALZBERG: You will see one if it helps Hillary. If it doesn't help Hillary, you won't see one.

MADISON: Oh, you'll see one, but it won't make any difference, and we need somebody to talk about substance and quit all this style.


DOBBS: You got the shot (ph) here, Roland.

MARTIN: Hey, I would love for Michael Bloomberg to run. All of us media folks, he wouldn't need all the TV ads.

I need a raise.

DOBBS: Gentlemen, I'm going to be honest with you, you are absolutely out of control tonight, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I thank you at home for putting up with these gentlemen. Thank you very much. Gentlemen, appreciate it.


DOBBS: Results of our poll tonight: 97 percent of you agree with senator, former Senator Fred Thompson, that our elected representatives in Washington have a total lack of credibility these days, as he put it.

We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow, when among our guests will be Senator Jeff Sessions, one of the biggest critics of this grand compromise legislation. Also, Senator Byron Dorgan, whose amendment was defeated within the hour.

For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.