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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Battle Continues over Florida Primary; McCain Rejects Pastor Hagee; Foreign Workers Over American Workers; Fighting for Ramos and Compean

Aired May 22, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight a stunning new development in the battle over the disputed primary in Florida. State Senate Democratic Leader Steven Geller filing a federal lawsuit to force the Democratic National Committee and its chairman, Howard Dean, to recognize Florida's votes. State Senator Geller is among our guests here tonight.

And the Bush administration refusing again to stand up for working men and women and our middle class. The Bush administration deciding to make it easier for corporate America to hire foreign workers to replace American workers. We'll have that report.

And tonight, new efforts to win justice for imprisoned border patrol agents, Ramos and Compean.

Also, an ethics complaint filed against the U.S. attorney responsible for the case. We'll have that and all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, May 22. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Top Democrats in Florida tonight have had a bellyful of the Democratic Party's national leadership and its refusal to recognize Florida's Democratic voters. State Senate Democratic Leader Steven Geller today filing lawsuit in federal court to force the national party to count Florida's nearly two million votes.

Geller telling Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean that the votes of those Democrats cannot be ignored. The lawsuit comes as Senator Clinton intensifies her battle to count votes from both Florida and Michigan, the other disputed primary.

Joining me now, Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steven Geller.

Good to have you with us, Senator.

STEVEN GELLER (D), FL SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Thanks, Lou. Nice to see you again.

DOBBS: Why did you decide to file this lawsuit now? Did you simply exhaust all over avenues? GELLER: Let me first say that it's important to note that I filed it. I'm one of those uncommitted superdelegates. But in addition to me, we have a Clinton delegate and an Obama delegate also. And I had agreed to endorse John Edwards before he dropped out.

So let's be clear, we're not doing this to help or hurt any candidate. We're doing this because in nine days, May 31, the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee is going to be hearing Florida's appeal. I've sent them a very nice letter, asking them to seat Florida's delegation and explaining why we should be seated.

DOBBS: What was the response?

GELLER: Well, I never get a response from them...

DOBBS: So you write a nice letter, but the Democratic National Committee isn't being very nice, or at least its chairman is not. What do you expect...


GELLER: That's why we filed the lawsuit as well.

DOBBS: What do you expect to happen as a result and how soon will you know?

GELLER: I'm hoping that they're going to read the lawsuit and say, oh, my God, I can't believe, they're going to win this, so we better, on May 31, moot the lawsuit and seat their whole delegation. If not, if they don't do it voluntarily, I expect a federal judge will tell them to seat our whole delegation.

DOBBS: Well as you know, Congresswoman Kareen Brown (ph) put it I think about articulately, as straightforwardly as you can, saying, point-blank, the congresswoman saying to the Democratic National Committee, either count us now or don't count on us later. Senator Hillary Clinton articulating exactly what she means, apparently saying Democratic voters in both Michigan and Florida are thinking that if the Democratic Party doesn't want their votes, perhaps John McCain and the Republican Party will in November.

GELLER: There have been three polls done, one of which I commissioned, in Florida, all showed that between 25 percent and 30 percent of likely Democratic voters would either stay home or vote Republican if they don't seat our delegation. The DNC wants a chance to carry Florida and carry our contested congressional seats, they must seat our delegation.

DOBBS: Well, they must seat your delegation. Is it your judgment that if they fail to do so, because that still remains obviously one of the choices, and the reaction of the Democratic National Committee was to cite two cases that suggest that it will be very difficult for you to prevail in this lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee...

GELLER: They're wrong.

DOBBS: What happens?

GELLER: Well, first of all, they're wrong. Most of the lawsuits that have been filed, the DNC is correct. The case law shows that the DNC has the right to prevail over state law. Our lawsuit recognizes that, but also points out three things.

First of all, equal protection. They want to punish all the states that meet early they can, but they gave wavers to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, which also broke the rules.

Secondly, procedural due process; their own rules state that they must conduct an investigation before they punish a state if it's based on what happened in the Legislature. In Florida, they failed to do so, they must follow their own rules.

And finally, they told us that we should have a post-primary caucus, except federal law prevents that. Florida is a pre-clearance state. We would have needed pre-clearance from the Justice Department. They will lose the lawsuit. I hope they do the right thing and give us our votes at the meeting. Lou, if I can just say one thing...

DOBBS: Very quickly, if you would, Senator.

GELLER: Very quickly. In 2000 I was an election monitor in our -- the Gore/Bush fight. The DNC said then, make sure every vote counts. Now they're saying, either don't count any votes or maybe we'll count half votes. That's not OK. Count our votes in Florida.

DOBBS: Senator, let me ask you as we conclude, you have filed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee.


DOBBS: The voters in Michigan, outraged and upset that they've been disenfranchised by the Democratic National Committee. The same is true of the 1.75 million Democratic voters in Florida. Senator Clinton has said, in effect, in a veiled, straightforwardly, to me, a threat, saying that Democratic voters in both states will be entertaining going to McCain and the Republican Party if the Democratic Party does not reinstate and recognize their votes. Today we have seen a remarkable, unexpected escalation in this battle for the presidential nomination between these two candidates, have we not?

GELLER: Well, all I'm saying is count our votes. I happen to agree with Senator Clinton to count our votes, but I'm not supporting Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. I want our votes counted, but I'll tell you, if they don't count our votes, they won't get our votes in November. That's an accurate statement. And it will hurt not only the president, but our congressional and our other legislative races.

DOBBS: Senator Steven Geller, good to see you.

GELLER: Lou, always a pleasure. DOBBS: Thank you.

GELLER: Thank you.

DOBBS: Appreciate it.

Well let's turn now to our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey has just joined us. You've just heard Senator Geller, who has filed that lawsuit in federal court. He says he has a case, irrespective of the two cases cited by the Democratic National Committee. He means to win and knowing Senator Geller, he's not kidding.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: I'm sure he's not kidding. And I think he's right on the politics, but I think he's wrong on the law.

DOBBS: How so?

TOOBIN: Because the Supreme Court starting in 1972 and in a series of cases since then has said that political parties are allowed to make their own rules. And that they are allowed to set schedules, allocate delegates in ways that they think will help their candidates win, even if it doesn't abide by things like equal protection, one man, one vote.

And so I think the courts are going to say, this is a Democratic Party issue. It's not something for the courts.

DOBBS: All right. You've just heard also, Senator Geller explain why he believes that his case is outside that precedent and goes well beyond it. You're unpersuaded?

TOOBIN: I'm not persuaded. I don't think his citation of procedural due process, equal protection, Section Five of the Voting Rights Act makes any difference. These -- this is -- courts hate to get in the middle of political controversy. Bush v. Gore was very much the exception. That was not a happy experience for the judiciary.

No court wants to get involved. I think what everyone is hoping, including the judges who get this case, is that on May 31st, the Democratic Party figures out a way to compromise, settle this problem in both Michigan and Florida, so that it doesn't have to fester as it has.

DOBBS: In his -- I think the festering is over. This looks like a declared war, certainly on the part of the state of Florida. One could not argue against their frustration and their disappointment with the Democratic National Committee. It seems pretty clear that Howard Dean has become a significant problem, rather than a man who should be orchestrating solutions.

TOOBIN: Well, I don't think it's Howard Dean's problem at this point. I think...


DOBBS: Oh, it's not his problem.

TOOBIN: I think it's...

DOBBS: I think it's his responsibility.

TOOBIN: Well, but I think Barack Obama is the person who's really responsible at this point. He's the front-runner. He's the presumed nominee. Show some leadership. Show the Democratic Party how to solve this problem. He's supposed to be a problem-solver. This is not the Middle East.

This is a problem that has a fairly simple solution. You can compromise. You can count the delegates one way or another, but someone has to show leadership. Dean hasn't done it. Obama's got to try to do it...

DOBBS: (INAUDIBLE) suggest that, that precisely what the Obama campaign knows. They jeopardize their standing going into June 3.

TOOBIN: They do, but this is a bigger problem. Michigan...

DOBBS: I couldn't agree with you more.

TOOBIN: Michigan and Florida is a bigger problem, and they need to settle it on May 31, or it's just going to continue.

DOBBS: Absolutely and it's very clear. As you heard Steven Geller, who is one of the top Democrats in the state of Florida saying those votes are not going to be going to the Democratic candidate in November. That's about as clear a statement that you can make that Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee have committed, I think, what we could easily say is a tremendous mistake.

TOOBIN: In two of the most important states for a Democrat to win.

DOBBS: Utterly brilliant, the Democratic leadership. Thanks very much, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff will be coming back with us as we examine other issues. We'll be talking about some very important developments today in that polygamy case in Texas, extraordinary developments, also legal, brought to you by our court system. Jeffrey Toobin will rationalize all of that for us.

And as we reported, Senator Clinton has repeatedly insisted that those primaries in Florida and Michigan count. Clinton is telling her supporters that Republicans will benefit if the Democratic National Committee refuses to count those Florida and Michigan votes.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Democrats send the message that we don't fully value your votes, we know Senator McCain and the Republicans will be more than happy to have them. The Republicans will make a simple and compelling argument. Why should Florida and Michigan voters trust the Democratic Party to look out for you when they won't even listen to you?


DOBBS: Senator Clinton says the Democratic Party must have a nominee who represents all 50 states, not only 48. But Clinton's home state governor, David Paterson, a Clinton supporter and superdelegate today said she's becoming, as he put it, a little desperate. Governor Paterson saying it's time for Senator Clinton to give up her efforts to force the Democratic Party to count votes from Florida and Michigan. He says Clinton is unlikely to beat Senator Obama, all of this, as he supports of course Senator Obama.

That brings us to the subject of our poll: Do you believe the votes of Florida and Michigan Democrats should be counted?

What a question to ask in America, don't you think?

Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll pass on the results to Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee, as well as report them to you at the end of this hour.

Senator McCain today abruptly reversed course and rejected the endorsement of the controversial minister, John Hagee. Senator McCain issued his statement after the release of an audiotape in which Hagee said the acts of Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust were part of God's will. At least that is the interpretation of what he said.

Brian Todd who broke this story on CNN reports now from Washington -- Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, for months now, Pastor Hagee, a key endorser of John McCain's has been under fire for past remarks he made about the Catholic Church. Comments he has since apologized for. McCain did not repudiate Pastor Hagee's endorsement during that period. But within the last couple of hours, he's made a dramatic turnaround after our questions about Hagee's sermons about the Holocaust.


TODD (voice-over): John McCain how rejects an endorsement that was once seen as critical to his conservative credentials.

PASTOR JOHN HAGEE, TELEVANGELIST: John McCain will be a strong, courageous and effective leader from the first day he steps into the Oval Office.

TODD: Pastor John Hagee, a popular televangelist from San Antonio with a 19,000-member church and a TV ministry seen around the world. McCain's campaign tells us when Hagee endorsed McCain in February, McCain was not aware of remarks Hagee had made in a sermon years earlier. Hagee cited biblical passages, spoke of what he believed was God's plan to bring the Jews back to Israel.

HAGEE: God says in Jeremiah 16, behold I will bring them, the Jewish people again into the land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters and they the hunters shall hunt them. That would be the Jews.

TODD: Hagee then says those Jews who didn't follow Zionism founder back to Israel went through the Holocaust.

HAGEE: Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter.

TODD: These passages were recently posted by blogger Bruce Wilson (ph), an admitted critic of Hagee and the religious right. Wilson told us he voted for Hillary Clinton, but was not steered toward this by any Democratic operatives. Pastor Hagee would not do an interview with us, but issued a statement saying he had been intentionally mischaracterized, and "to assert that I in any way condoned the Holocaust or that monster Adolf Hitler is the biggest and ugliest of lies."

A representative for Pastor Hagee says he was trying to explain to his parish how God could let something so terrible happen. Hagee's been a strong supporter of Israel for years. A leader of one prominent Jewish group does not believe the pastor is anti-Semitic, but says:

RABBI DAVID SAPERSTEIN, RELIGIOUS ACTION CTR. REFORM JUDAISM: The notion that the Holocaust was part of God's plan is a way of punishing the Jews is a deeply, deeply troubling assertion that should be repudiated by all people of conscience.

TODD: John McCain not only repudiates Hagee's remarks, but now says in a statement to CNN, "I feel I must reject his endorsement as well." McCain says Hagee's never been his pastor and the campaign says the candidate never had the kind of relationship with Hagee that Barack Obama had with Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Hagee reacted by saying he's tired of baseless attacks, that they've become a distraction. And quote, "I have therefore decided to withdraw my endorsement of Senator McCain for president." But McCain's got another pastor problem.

PASTOR ROD PARSLEY, TELEVANGELIST: Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends through violence to conquer the world.

TODD: Pastor Rod Parsley, another popular televangelist who also endorsed McCain in February.

IBRAHIM HOOPER, COUN. ON AMER. ISLAMIC RELATIONS: It was shocking to hear that Senator McCain would associate himself with someone who holds such bigoted views against Muslims and Islam.


TODD: The Council on American Islamic Relations is calling on McCain to repudiate Parsley's endorsement as well. A McCain spokesman says the senator rejects those remarks, says it's entirely inconsistent with what McCain believes, but they are not rejecting the endorsement at the moment. McCain's aid says this was purely a political endorsement and they don't know each other well -- Lou. DOBBS: They don't know each other well? I mean this is becoming absurd. And you're saying CAIR is involved in this. We're listening -- I mean, CAIR is a highly controversial group, purporting to represent Muslims in this country itself.

TODD: They are. They have been involved in some controversies. But they are unequivocal here, saying he's got to repudiate this endorsement, he's got to go back on this.


DOBBS: My question is, Brian, is why would we even be quoting them, given their track record? I mean they're not exactly the pristine representatives of the Muslim people in this country, are they?

TODD: Well they are often looked to for reaction to these kinds of things.


TODD: And they do weigh in. I mean they're not without controversy themselves. But it's important to point out that Pastor Parsley, also for his point, says that -- his response there was -- this was in response to militant Islam. His spokesman told us that Pastor Parsley believes that Christians should be supportive of moderate and peaceful Muslims.

DOBBS: I don't think too many people would argue with that one. Brian, it looks like religion in the public square right now, it's quite a dustup for all of these candidates. Thank you very much, Brian Todd, great reporting.

TODD: Thank you.

DOBBS: Still ahead here, new evidence of the Bush administration's outright support for corporate elites and special interests.

Lisa Sylvester will have our report -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the Department of Labor makes changes to the H-2B program. Critics say it will make it easier to bring in cheap foreign labor, all without congressional approval -- Lou.

DOBBS: Maybe we should call the Labor Department the cheap Labor Department under this administration. Lisa, we look forward to your report. Thank you.

Also new efforts to win justice for imprisoned border patrol agents, Ramos and Compean. We'll have that special report.

And an important appellate court ruling in the Texas polygamy case, we'll have the very latest from outside the courthouse in San Angelo, Texas. We're coming right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Bush administration again putting the interest of big business ahead of the people's interest; the Labor Department changing the rules unilaterally of its H-2B temporary worker visa program. Those changes will make it even easier for companies to hire cheap foreign labor instead of American workers.

Lisa Sylvester has our report from Washington.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): U.S. businesses bring in 66,000 foreign workers every year to work seasonal jobs in landscaping, at restaurants, and hotels. The program known as the H-2B temporary worker visa program requires companies first offer the jobs to U.S. workers. Now the Department of Labor is overhauling the program to, quote, "remove duplicative bureaucracy". The proposed regulations would change the definition of temporary worker from 10 months to three years. Critics say the new regulations would undercut American workers and reduce U.S. wages.

ROSS EISENBREY, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: They'll be able to offer a substandard, even a poverty wage, have U.S. workers decline it and then reach overseas and pay transportation costs and housing to bring people in from other countries instead of paying a decent wage to U.S. workers.

SYLVESTER: Business groups have lobbied Congress to expand the H-2B program above its current cap of 66,000 workers since comprehensive immigration reform failed to pass on Capitol Hill. Dan Musser, president of the Grand Hotel, a famous resort hotel in Michigan, told a congressional committee his hotel hires 300 temporary workers every summer and he welcomes any changes making it easier to bring in foreign workers.

DAN MUSSER, GRAND HOTEL: It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for us to continue and operate successfully without these H-2B workers. They are the life blood of our seasonal business.

SYLVESTER: The new rule changes do not require congressional approval. The Department of Labor responding to critics who say the proposal will hurt U.S. workers said, quote, "nothing in our proposal changes the contours of the H-2B program that was created by Congress. There is nothing here that lessens the requirement that you have to first recruit U.S. workers and take affirmative steps before you hire a foreign worker."


SYLVESTER: Another major change is that employers would no longer have to send in proof that they advertised the position to U.S. workers. They would only have to sign a paper attesting that they've fulfilled this requirement. The Department of Labor says it will audit those and violators could face up to a $10,000 fine and could be barred from the program up to three years -- Lou. DOBBS: Another Bush administration free market police yourself kind of deal. Just -- one good piece of news in all of this is that in the Senate, from the Iraq war funding bill, they stripped the H-2B legislation that had been amended to it. Lisa, I mean, what is the reaction here? I mean, this is -- why now? Do we know what is going on with this so-called Labor Department? As I say, it's a cheap Labor Department?

SYLVESTER: Well the Department of Labor, what they've essentially said is because comprehensive immigration reform failed in Congress, they are now trying this -- essentially this piecemeal approach. And this is clearly is something that the business community had been lobbying for to sort of streamline this process...

DOBBS: Did the Labor Department in any way, Lisa, say you know this is something that the American people made it clear to the United States Senate last summer they didn't want, and therefore we think we should follow the people's will too, because this is a democracy and the rule of majority does still does matter a little, at least even to this administration?

SYLVESTER: We did an extensive interview with them, and they did not say that, Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Appreciate it. I want to be very clear. We did invite the Secretary of the Department of Labor, Elaine Chao, to join us here tonight. She was unable to make it. Secretary Chao has an open invitation, I assure you, to join me anytime here. I should let you know also despite our repeated invitations to be with us, it's been five years since the last time Secretary Chao was a guest on this broadcast. Apparently we have different views that somehow she finds unsettling.

New efforts are underway tonight in the fight to secure the freedom of imprisoned border patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Attorneys for Ramos tonight are arguing for his immediate release on bond and the prosecutor in charge of this case, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, the man who brought these charges is facing an ethics complaint for his handling of the Ramos and Compean case.

Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorneys for imprisoned border patrol agent Ignacio Ramos have filed a motion with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking his immediate release. Ramos and fellow agent Jose Compean are appealing their convictions for shooting and wounding an illegal alien drug smuggler and covering it up.

Ramos was sentenced to a year in prison, plus another 10 years for using a gun to commit a crime. Compean received two years, plus the 10-year gun charge. Because Ramos has already served more than a year, his attorneys say he should now be released on bond, because the appellate court is likely to overturn the 10-year gun charge. REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: Neither one of these individuals are a flight risk. They're never going to run away from any sentence if they have to serve it. So I think it's an excellent motion. But on the other hand, the U.S. attorney's office continues to be relentless in making sure that they stay behind bars.

WIAN: Federal prosecutors filed a motion opposing bond for Ramos, saying his convictions on all counts should be affirmed. Texas U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton has been harshly criticized by some for overseeing a prosecution that portrayed the smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, as a low-level mule.

Prosecutors persuaded a judge to prevent jurors from hearing about Davila's drug-smuggling backyard. Defense attorneys say that would have bolstered Ramos and Compean's claim they believed he was armed. Now a group called Christians Reviving America's Values has filed an ethics complaint against Sutton with the Texas State Bar.

REV. DON SWARTHOUT, PRESIDENT, CRAVE: He twisted facts. He kept facts out of the trial and as far as I'm concerned, he should lose his law license, should be disbarred from practicing law in the state of Texas.

WIAN: Swarthout's group accuses Sutton of quote, "misleading statements." The Texas State Bar would neither confirm nor deny that an ethics investigation of Sutton is underway. Sutton's office declined to comment on the complaint.


WIAN: Compean's attorney was not available to discuss whether he will also seek bond for his client. Both Ramos and Compean are still waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals, which could of course overturn their convictions and set the men free. At a hearing in December, two of three appellate judges criticized the prosecution of the agents, Lou.

DOBBS: It's been just almost half a year now since the case was heard. Is there any indication about why the appellate court is taking such, by any measure, historically long period of time in which to render a decision?

WIAN: Supporters of the agents are scratching their heads, Lou. They have no idea why this is taking so long. They are choosing to view it as a good sign and that the judges are taking this case very seriously and perhaps trying to reach a decision to overturn what a lower court did is a little more difficult than just reaffirming what the lower court did. At least that's what supporters of the agents are saying, Lou.

DOBBS: I suppose it would be too much to ask for an investigation to be ordered by the appellate court at the same time it rendered its decision of the prosecutor and the trial judge both for their -- for what they permitted to occur there?

WIAN: I suppose so. But I will say this, supporters of the agents are hoping for a very quick decision on this bond motion. So if it does go in Agent Ramos' favor, there is a chance that at least he could be out sometime soon, Lou.

DOBBS: Well let's hope justice prevails and that he is out. Casey, thanks very much. Casey Wian.

Coming up, a left-wing advocacy group calls itself a watchdog group attacking me and this broadcast over illegal immigration and hooking up with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who wants to make it a racial issue. I'll be talking with Paul Waldman. He's one of the authors of a report that says, "I serve up a diet of fear about illegal immigration."

Oil and gasoline prices continue to soar while oil executives are on Capitol Hill defending their actions and their profits.

An important ruling in the Texas polygamy case and what it could mean for hundreds of children. What's happening in Texas? We keep asking that question quite frequently here, don't we?

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Crude oil prices today soaring to a new high of more than $135 a barrel before falling back and then closing at $131. Prices setting record highs, seemingly on a daily basis. And that's pushing gasoline prices higher, as well. Gas now at a national average of more than $3.80 a gallon.

And the debate over who's to blame for those high prices continuing on Capitol Hill today. Oil company executives being grilled by House lawmakers. The oil companies claiming they're not at fault for making excess profits.

Steven Simon of ExxonMobil argued his company invests more in energy development than it earns. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, she wasn't so impressed.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: We know that the compensation of the executives is very high. We know that you get your bonuses. We know that you spend a lot on promotion. So we don't -- we don't like to hear that you are broke.


DOBBS: Simon responded his company invested $21 billion last year alone to bring new oil and gas supplies to the market.

The executives also saying, fundamental economic factors, such as strong demand from developing nations, a weak dollar, and speculation, all contributing to those price increases.

The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, we're told, again could have an effect on gasoline prices. Government forecasters again predicting a more active-than-normal hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting between six to nine hurricanes to form this season, 12 to 16 named storms. That forecast also calls between two to five major hurricanes.

An average season has about six hurricanes, two of them major. And by the way, this would be the third year, if they are wrong, that they have blown a forecast.

Colorado's governor tonight declaring a state of emergency, calling out the National Guard. That after tornadoes cut through northern Colorado. One person, today, killed in the town of Windsor as a twister touched down along Colorado's Front Range.

The tornado dropped golf-ball-sized hail, tore roofs off buildings in towns about 80 miles north of Denver. About 100 or more homes damaged by those tornadoes.

And in California tonight, strong wildfires sweeping through the Santa Cruz Mountains. The fires there burned now more than 3,000 acres, destroying ten buildings. Some evacuations have been ordered. About 50 homes are being threatened by those fast-moving fires. The fires have being fueled by dry brush and high winds. No reports of any injuries at this time.

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

George in California said: "I'm so tired of hearing that the voters of Florida and Michigan must be punished for voting early. If someone must be punished, then go after those that changed the dates, not the individual voters."

It is so simple, isn't it?

Paul in Oklahoma: "Lou, if you want to see the DNC get off their dead ends and count Michigan and Florida votes, just let Hillary announce she's going independent. I'd love to see it."

You know, that's an intriguing idea.

And William in New York: "I've been a Democrat since 1964. I'll now register as an independent. I'm fed up with the phony B.S. from both parties. Keep up the good work."

Good idea. We welcome you to our ranks.

We'll have more of our thoughts here later in the forecast.

And a reminder to join us on the radio Monday through Friday for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Next Tuesday my guests include Bill Fleckenstein, the author of "Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve," a scathing assessment of Alan Greenspan's 19- year tenure. And China expert, Professor Gordon Chang on earthquake relief efforts there.

Go to -- to find local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.

Up here next, a left-wing group purporting to be an independent watchdog has joined forces with a congressional Hispanic caucus. They're attacking me and our reporting here on illegal immigration. One of the leaders of the advocacy group, Paul Waldman, joins me.

And a top military commander hinting at the possibility of more troop withdrawals from Iraq. General David Grange will be here to assess that.

And the legal fight between a polygamous sect and the state of Texas goes to a public court. The polygamists are winning.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Important legal ruling in that polygamy case in Texas, an appellate court ruling. The state of Texas should not have removed those children, the children of 38 women from the polygamist ranch last month.

Child Protective Services removed those children, believing that girls as young as 13 were married to much older men.

Jenny Hoff of our affiliate KXAN reports now from San Angelo, Texas -- Jenny.

JENNY HOFF, KXAN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, today in San Angelo, there were a lot of happy emotions here at the courthouse. That's because the 3rd Court of Appeals ruling filed on the writ of mandamus filed on behalf of 38 FLDS women came down.

That court ruling was in the mothers' favor. The ruling said that CPS never had a right to take all of the children off the Yearning for Zion Ranch without evidence and on the assumption that their religious beliefs would damage them.

So today Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, which filed the mandamus, said this was a great day for all families in Texas.

Now, what CPS said they are doing at this time is working with the attorney general's office here in Texas to see what steps they should take next. They stand by their belief that those children were in danger on the ranch. They said in their statement that they did see many reasons -- many reasons to believe that there was abuse out here. But they won't say if they plan on filing an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, they have ten days here for the judge to reverse her decision and send those children back home with their kids. Otherwise, CPS can file for a stay, and if they're granted that, those children should stay in state custody.

Meanwhile, all of the hearings here at the courthouse, the status hearings that were scheduled for the next two weeks. They've at least been canceled until the end of this week so CPS can figure out what they're going to do and mothers can, of course, meet with their lawyers and see if they can get their children back as soon as possible.

Back to you, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Jenny.

Jenny Hoff of our affiliate, KXAN in San Angelo, Texas.

Joining me again, our senior legal analyst. A busy day for you, for all of us. This was a blockbuster decision: 460 children, 38 of them under this ruling, the appellate court saying, you know, "You made a mistake, Texas."

TOOBIN: It's really a breathtaking decision, and a total rebuke of the Texas authorities who removed those kids and of the lower court judge who said it was OK to do it.

DOBBS: Well, now, anyone worried about two things here. We keep calling it polygamy. It's pedophilia as far as, certainly, I'm concerned.

TOOBIN: That's right. That's the real issue.

DOBBS: And for the judge to make this decision without addressing that issue and the welfare of all of these children without ascertaining it, it seems peculiar to me.

TOOBIN: Well, that's what the appellate court said. The appellate court said that there was no evidence presented of specific abuse of specific children. Not one child before puberty had any evidence of abuse. And they -- the court said that the belief system...

DOBBS: My God. Puberty is the demarcation point for the appellate court?

TOOBIN: Well, that's -- if you were going to remove children from their parents, you have to show specific threats to specific children. And that's what they said the Texas authorities didn't do.

DOBBS: Well, this is -- could this ultimately apply to all 460 children?

TOOBIN: It does apply to all 460 children.

DOBBS: Well, the ruling here is only on 38...

TOOBIN: That's right. I'm sorry, you're absolutely right. Certainly, the evidence presented here applies across the board. And the hostility to the government's position would certainly apply broadly if the evidence, as I suspect, is the same about all the rest of them.

DOBBS: But simply, do you agree or disagree with the appellate court decision?

TOOBIN: I was persuaded by the appellate court decision. I think it is such a huge step to take a child away from his or her mother that you have to be more sure that there's a good reason than the Texas authorities had here.

DOBBS: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you. Appreciate it.

We'll have much more on this polygamy case on CNN throughout the evening. "LARRY KING LIVE" will have exclusive reaction from the mothers who have children in state custody in Texas. We'll join Larry at 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, of course.

Up next, one of the authors of a report attacking me and this broadcast because of our coverage of the illegal immigration crisis. It promises to be an interesting discussion.

And more recalls of toxic toys. Can you believe America's toy brands still can't manage to ensure that the toys they're importing from communist China and elsewhere are safe for American consumers? We'll have that report. Stay with us. It gets better and better.


DOBBS: The left-wing advocacy group, Media Matters, which sometimes describes itself as a watchdog group and which purports to be same, has teamed up with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to attack me, this broadcast, and a few others in broadcast media, but specifically me and this broadcast, for our coverage of illegal immigration.

The group issued a scathing report, saying this broadcast and those other programs on cable television spread what it calls the myths of illegal immigration.

Paul Waldman is senior fellow, director of special projects for Media Matters of America, and is kind enough to join us here tonight.

Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Let me ask you this. You're hooked up with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Media Matters is itself a left-wing organization. I mean, why -- what credibility do all of you have on this issue? Would you have any more credibility, for example, than the Chamber of Commerce and the Bush administration in proposing amnesty and open borders?

WALDMAN: Well, I know that's the kind of thing you've been saying about this for the last day or two. I heard on the radio today that you said I was out to lunch.

DOBBS: Were you actually out to lunch?


DOBBS: If I said it, but I don't recall saying it.

WALDMAN: That's sort of the shoot-the-messenger strategy. That's the kind of stuff that we tend to get from people like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. I don't think you're above that, because...

DOBBS: I'm not any longer. Because what you did here is distort both the record, the reality and the issue. And that's a combination that I frankly don't find endearing.

Let's go to just a couple things. Your report says that 70 percent of the LOU DOBBS TONIGHT programs last year mentioned illegal immigration.

Now, last year, as you may recall, comprehensive immigration reform was a major issue, with a vote, ultimately on June 28, that resulted in its demise in the Senate. You may recall that last year was a campaign year in which a number of the candidates were taking on the issue of illegal immigration and specifically, Governor Eliot Spitzer calling for driver's licenses for illegal aliens.

Why would you be surprised that we would be taking up that issue in such an active period, if you will, in public policy?

WALDMAN: We're not. And we don't criticize you for talking about illegal immigration a lot. Obviously, that's an issue that you care very deeply about. The question, though, is when you talk about it -- the question, though, is when you talk about, how do you talk about it?

Are you propagating myths? Are you encouraging people to believe things that don't happen to be true? That's the real question.

Lou, let's think about it this way. There is probably no more important voice on this issue than you. You talk about this issue almost every night. You have a national -- you have a national television audience. You've got a nationally-syndicated radio program. There is no one whose voice is louder when it comes to the issue of immigration than yours.

DOBBS: Let me say, if that's the case -- Paul, if that's the case, why in the world would you not look at the record and realize how much reporting we've done on this? Instead, you criticize the broadcast for having its own, quote unquote, "own correspondents." So does "60 Minutes."

WALDMAN: We mentioned it. We don't criticize you for having your own correspondents, Lou. The question, though, is, when you talk about this, are you feeding into some of these myths?

And what we found was that, actually, there are a lot of myths that get played on this show. Like, for instance, the NAFTA superhighway. Let me ask you, Lou. Do you actually believe that there is a secret plan to create a superhighway four football fields wide that is going to stretch from Mexico all the way to Canada?

DOBBS: The question is, do you really reject the evidence? Because that's precisely what's going on under the umbrella of the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the fact that the Trans-Texas Corridor is precisely that.

WALDMAN: The Trans-Texas Corridor is in Texas, Lou. So the question is, do you have -- do you have actual evidence that there -- that there is a plan that is going to take this all the way from Mexico to Canada? What is the evidence there?

DOBBS: What is the evidence?


DOBBS: The evidence is straightforward. It is the reporting of -- you know, if you really don't -- you know, I'm not going to get -- we haven't enough time for this.

But even the Texas newspapers, which have resisted this idea for a number of years, now recognize what's happening. Citizens' groups are forming all over Texas to stop it.

I mean, do you have any concept of what you're talking about? The Security and Prosperity Partnership, Paul, you're completely...

WALDMAN: Is there some kind of a document that they say this is going to go from Mexico to Canada? Because we looked around, and we tried to document...

DOBBS: Why did you not -- why did you not call? How can you call research -- if you didn't call this broadcast and ask us for these documents and ask us for the proof in the reporting...

WALDMAN: Do you have one?

DOBBS: Of course, we do.

WALDMAN: I would love to see -- because we looked around...

DOBBS: You are a left-wing advocacy group. You're charging nonsense.


DOBBS: And the only way to appease both you and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus would be for me to support illegal immigration and open borders. I reject it, I reject you, and I reject your position.

Now let's get to your report.

WALDMAN: This isn't about what positions you take. You can advocate any kind of particular immigration reform you want.

DOBBS: That's very generous of you. That's very generous. WALDMAN: The question, though, Lou, is because your voice is so important on this, what kind of...

DOBBS: I'm not going to let you prattle. I want you to listen to this. OK? I'd like you to listen to this. Would you do that?

WALDMAN: Mm-hmm.


DOBBS: You cannot reform immigration if you can't control it. You cannot control immigration unless you control the borders.

Absolutely, I am also for raising legal immigration.

No country, no three countries can come close to us on our immigration. Legal immigration levels. And we should be very proud of that. I am. I am just as excited about illegal immigration -- I'm more excited.


DOBBS: Why didn't you report that in any part of your report? My position on illegal immigration?

WALDMAN: I know...

DOBBS: My position on immigration. My position on border security. Yours is a scurrilous attack, and you pretend that it has some scholarly basis. It is an absolute, pitiful joke.

WALDMAN: Lou, I know that you say you support illegal immigration and you're not anti...

DOBBS: You do? But you forgot. You forgot to include that in your report?

WALDMAN: You've said that many times. Let me ask you a question. What was the last time you did a story, a positive story about immigrants?

DOBBS: I don't know. Why. What's the issue?

WALDMAN: Well, if -- I'm sure you understand, this is an issue that not...

DOBBS: Do you...

WALDMAN: ... not even beyond the show. Let me make my point. Beyond this show, you know that there are a lot of voices out there that are not very responsible. OK?

DOBBS: Don't do that. Don't conflate...

WALDMAN: No, no, no.


DOBBS: Don't conflate illegal and legal immigration, and don't conflate me and anyone else, as you've already done.

WALDMAN: Exactly. This is exactly my point, Lou. You are adamant about this, that you don't oppose -- that you're not anti- immigrant...

DOBBS: So what is your point?

WALDMAN: My point is, if you'll let me make it.

DOBBS: I would -- I'm waiting, and so are millions of others.

WALDMAN: My point is, that I asked you when was the last time you did a positive story about immigrants. You can't even answer me. So the question is that, if you understand...

DOBBS: What was the last time you did a positive story at Media Matters on a right-wing Republican candidate? When was the last time?

WALDMAN: If you can understand, Lou...

DOBBS: When was the last time you did it?

WALDMAN: If you understand, Lou, that...

DOBBS: When was the last time you did that report?

WALDMAN: Are you going to let me make me point?

DOBBS: I think I made it.

WALDMAN: OK. So you understand you're part of a debate that has some other quarters, gets irresponsible and doesn't reflect the values that you say you hold. OK. So what if -- what...

DOBBS: My question, straightforwardly, is why did you not include my position on immigration and border security in your report?

WALDMAN: We mentioned...

DOBBS: Because not to do so is obfuscatory. It's distortion and irresponsible on your part, and for you to pretend that that is a responsible piece of research is a joke.

WALDMAN: No, the question is, if you want to take this debate to a level where it's responsible, you could do all kinds of...

DOBBS: Pardon me. How many stories have you done on illegal immigration? How much research have you done on illegal immigration? How much?

WALDMAN: The question...

DOBBS: No, no. You're sitting here with the temerity to make such a statement. I'm asking you, point-blank, how much research have you done on illegal immigration? How much on border security and its economic...

WALDMAN: We did enough research to understand what...

DOBBS: No, I'm asking you a question, Paul.

WALDMAN: We are a media...

DOBBS: So that's the only time.

WALDMAN: We're only a media watchdog group.

DOBBS: So until you went after me and Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, you haven't done anything, had you? We've been reporting on this subject here for seven years.

WALDMAN: The question is...

DOBBS: And you have no standing whatsoever to make such outrageous, arrogant comments.

WALDMAN: The question is, Lou, if you wanted to make sure that this debate stays at a level that's responsible, you could do stories that are positive about legal immigrants that showed people that you're not anti-immigrant. And that's just a part of...

DOBBS: Let's do in. Shall we do this? Do you recall the 60 -- 60 illegal aliens who were rescued from drop houses in Los Angeles and Phoenix last week?

WALDMAN: Mm-hmm.

DOBBS: Where else did you see that reported besides here?

WALDMAN: I'm not sure, Lou. But the point is...

DOBBS: Because that's a positive story.

WALDMAN: That's terrific. And I'd like to see more of that...

DOBBS: And the group you're associated with...

WALDMAN: Because the fact is, Lou, as I'm sure you know...

DOBBS: So you'd like me to do...

WALDMAN: People in less responsible quarters take what you do, and it gives them...

DOBBS: Please, don't give me that.

WALDMAN: It makes them happy. No, I said you're not -- no, no, Lou. Lou, you're not responsible for what other people say about you. That's true. DOBBS: Then why are you saying it? But why are you saying it? Because you can't demonstrate a single thing that's happened on this broadcast that would be absolutely -- other than...

WALDMAN: Lou, if I had my own television show, and I knew that there were extremist groups like the John Birch Society and white supremacist groups like the Catholic Conservative Citizens that were cheering me on on their Web site, it would make me want to step back and say, "OK, what am I doing? How can I change to make sure that this debate is responsible in the way it could be?"

DOBBS: Do you like balance? Do you like balance? Do you like balance? Do you like balance?

WALDMAN: Balance is fine, Lou. But the question is whether or not the rhetoric is responsible and whether it's feeding into...

DOBBS: What have I ever said about illegal aliens? Have I said that illegal aliens, I think, are the most rational actors in this entire mess? Have I said that I have worked with and respect greatly illegal aliens? Have I not said I've got great respect for the work ethic, the family values of most illegal aliens working in this country.

Have I not said that their wages should be increased? Have I not said that we should come to terms with the reality and raise wages of illegal aliens working in fields?

Because you are an ideologue, and a left-wing hack, you will ignore the reality.

WALDMAN: Calling me names is the way to avoid talking about...

DOBBS: I'm talking to you, partner. And I'm telling you exactly. Respond to what I just said. I just...

WALDMAN: Absolutely. OK. So I'm...

DOBBS: Name one of them that you mentioned in your report.

WALDMAN: It is...

DOBBS: Talking over me a way to avoid the question. I'm asking you, why didn't you include a single element that is positive in your report of the things that I said?

WALDMAN: We -- we mentioned in your report that you are clear, that you're -- that you...

DOBBS: You didn't mention a single one of those things.

WALDMAN: Well, you ought to read it more closely. Now, the question is, if you are going to mention occasionally those kinds of things, but yet, in one year you do 94 different stories on a crime that was committed by an illegal immigrant...

DOBBS: Oh, nine.

WALDMAN: Ninety-four.

DOBBS: What was the crime?

WALDMAN: A whole variety of crimes.

DOBBS: Did that include Ramos and Compean?

WALDMAN: No, it didn't. We excluded any mention of Ramos and Compean from our study. That would have increased numbers. That would have increased numbers.

DOBBS: There were all kinds of different stories that you did about undocumented immigrants and crime.

WALDMAN: What that does, when you pound on it, in 2007, when you pound on it over and over 94 years in a year, what it does is it feeds into this misperception that somehow undocumented immigrants are responsible...

DOBBS: Paul, let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Do you read "The New York Times"?


DOBBS: Do you read "The Washington Post"?

WALDMAN: Mm-hmm.

DOBBS: Do you read "Newsweek", "TIME"?

WALDMAN: Every once in a while.

DOBBS: Good. How many of those publications have had a report on the impact of illegal immigration in communities across the country, on the economy and the impact of having 95 percent of the cargo entering this country be uninspected, our ports to be insecure?

How many of those publications have reported on the fact that Mexico is the primary source, not only of illegal immigration into this country, but the primary source of methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, and our borders remain insecure almost seven years after September 11?

Does it -- does it strike you as curious that they have not reported on the issue?

WALDMAN: Lou, your point is that you report on the issue of immigration more than anybody else. And that is absolutely true, and that's...

DOBBS: Illegal immigration. Illegal immigration.

WALDMAN: That's why it's so important that your voice be the most responsible out there. DOBBS: Well, I think we are.

WALDMAN: It's going to come up again in Congress. It will come up maybe this year, maybe next year. And when it does, there are going to be millions of people who are looking to you...

DOBBS: There are going to be people who look at what you're doing as a member of Media Matters, a left-wing group, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is advocating open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants. And it is the only basis in which they have and you have in this debate.

You have the temerity to sit here on this broadcast talking to me about illegal immigration. You've done one report, and it was on this broadcast. And that's your only connection and understanding of the subject that's far more complex than you will acknowledge. That's a shame.

WALDMAN: Lou, it's not about whether there's somebody whose more of an expert on immigration than you are.

DOBBS: ... what it's about.


DOBBS: We're not the arbiter of what...

WALDMAN: We're a media watchdog organization.

DOBBS: You're not a media watchdog organization. You're a left wing. I mean, what's the title of the last book you wrote? What's the title of the last book you wrote?

WALDMAN: The last book I wrote was called "Free Ride: The Media and John McCain." The relationship between media and John McCain.

DOBBS: What was the previous book you wrote?

WALDMAN: The relationship -- no, Lou, listen. The relationship between media...

DOBBS: What was the previous book you wrote? You don't want to answer.

WALDMAN: ... a fascinating subject. I would love to come onto your show and talk about it some more. But now we're talking about immigration.

DOBBS: No, we're through talking. And I appreciate it. Good to have you with us. Paul Waldman.

WALDMAN: My pleasure.

DOBBS: We'll be right back in just a moment. Stay with us. It's going to get even better.


DOBBS: Well, joining me now to talk about the progress of -- that's right, progress of the war in Iraq, I'm joined by former general, David Grange.

Good to have you with us, General.

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: David Petraeus, it looks like he's having real impact. We're not hearing a lot about it, but casualties are down. Last week, one of the best weeks of this war in terms of casualties. What's going on?

GRANGE: Well, the surge is working, even though it's just a military surge. You know, if we want better results, we want to withdraw quicker, I think we need to put some more, other governmental agencies involved with more resources in order to fill out the surge.

DOBBS: Well, General, good luck, because the State Department's having trouble staffing that great big old embassy over there. If you want State Department folks, it looks like you may have some uphill work.

GRANGE: Well, it's -- resourcing is obligated to give to the Department of State, and they do need other training programs to build their force. They've been underresourceed for years.

DOBBS: Well, here is -- on another issue. Let's take a listen to what General Petraeus had to say today about Iran.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR. MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Iran continues to be a destabilizing influence in the region. It persists in its nontransparent pursuit of nuclear technology and continues to fund, train and arm dangerous militia organizations.


DOBBS: What are we supposed to do with that?

GRANGE: Believe it.

DOBBS: OK. Then what?

GRANGE: Then we take -- make sure that we take the diplomatic informational (ph), military and economic measures to make sure Iran understands the line in the sand that must be drawn.

DOBBS: All right. Let's turn to something else.

I was talking with Senator Jim Webb here last night, and they stripped the Iraq War Funding Bill and added the G.I. Bill.

Are you for it or against it -- the G.I. Bill and improving it for our veterans?

GRANGE: I'm for the G.I. Bill --


GRANGE: Well -- it's deserved, it's something that the country owes the G.I. It's the nation's responsibility. But the problem is they better make sure they don't underfund other programs that are required for readiness in order to do this.

DOBBS: Right, well --

GRANGE: So yes, I support it.

DOBBS: And -- Senator John McCain, fighting the legislation. Do you think it will cost him the vote of veterans?

GRANGE: It'll cost some votes I'm sure about it. But I think people will come around because it's the right thing to do.

DOBBS: Well, I hope he comes around.

You're saying he'll come around?

GRANGE: I said I hope he'll come around, yes sir.

DOBBS: Well, one would hope everyone would, to support our men and women in uniform.

General Grange, as always it's great to have you with us. Appreciate it.

GRANGE: Thank you, Lou, and thank you for the subject tonight.

DOBBS: Yes, sir.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us tomorrow.

Good night from New York.

The "ELECTION CENTER" with Campbell Brown begins right now -- Campbell.