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Lou Dobbs Tonight

McCain, Obama Campaigns Debate Energy Policies; Race and Politics; Nielsen Versus American Workers

Aired June 23, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, the McCain and Obama campaigns blasting one another on energy policies, but they are playing down their own links to the energy industry and special interests of which both have several.
Tonight the Supreme Court has refused to stop the construction of that border fence. We'll have a special report on the stunning defeat of the pro-amnesty open borders lobby and the victory for the American people.

Tonight a troubling new example of corporate elites' determination to replace American workers with cheap imported labor. We'll have that story, all of that, all the day's news and much more from an independent perspective straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Monday, June 23rd. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Senator's McCain and Obama today intensifying their battle over soaring fuel costs and this nation's energy policy or lack thereof. McCain today announced a series of proposals to convince skeptical independent voters that he not Obama has the most effective policy.

Obama, however, says McCain's energy policies are nothing less than what he calls special interest favors. This as Obama faces new questions tonight about his own links to special interest groups, in particular, the ethanol lobby.

We have extensive coverage for you from the presidential campaign trail and we begin with Dana Bash in Washington. Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Democrats are calling one of McCain's new ideas today nothing more than a gimmick. McCain calls it an innovative idea to promote innovation.


BASH (voice-over): John McCain wants to reduce America's dependence on oil with an age-old idea, a contest, and the promise of a lot of cash.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost, and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug- in hybrids or electric cars.

BASH: Three hundred million dollars for a new battery that delivers power at 30 percent of current costs.

MCCAIN: One dollar for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.

BASH: Throughout McCain's central California speech, a new tone that underscores the urgency of gas price politics. He also proposed something that he usually shies away from, a tax credit.

MCCAIN: For every automaker who can sell a zero emissions car, we'll commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car. For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.

BASH: And he pushed stiffer fines for car companies that pay a penalty rather than abide by so-called C.A.F.E. fuel efficiency standards.

MCCAIN: C.A.F.E. standards should serve large national goals in energy independence, not the purpose of small-time revenue.

BASH: McCain also blasted barriers to sugar-based fuel from Brazil and government subsidies for ethanol, saying it distorts the market.

MCCAIN: Corn-based ethanol, thanks to the money and influence of lobbyists, has been a case study into the law of unintended consequences.

BASH: That, a not-so-subtle hit at Barack Obama, a supporter of ethanol subsidies whose ties to lobbyists were detailed in the morning's "New York Times" that one of Obama's closest advisers, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, serves on the boards of three ethanol companies and helps represent renewable energy companies at his Washington law firm. On a conference call with reporters, Obama advisers insisted he has always supported ethanol subsidies.

JASON GRUMET, ENERGY ADVISER TO OBAMA CAMPAIGN: To the fundamental question does Senator Obama support biofuels, proud and guilty as charged.


BASH: Now as for McCain, he often warns that Obama would bring another term of Jimmy Carter but today he linked President Bush to Jimmy Carter. McCain said today's times feels like they did in the 1970s, the era of, quote, "stagflation". Lou.

DOBBS: Why was Senator McCain being so subtle in dealing with the issue of his energy, Obama's energy-related relationships? Why would there be any need to be subtle about that?

BASH: I'm not really sure the answer to that question. I mean I think that the focus of today's speech was supposed to be on his own policy ideas and one of his policy ideas obviously is ethanol. You know, there are issues that John McCain has had with lobbyists and former lobbyists working for him, so I think that he is careful in how he goes there or doesn't go there.

DOBBS: It's very clear that Senator McCain is staking out a far more advanced energy policy with far more specificity than Senator Obama. Why is that occurring?

BASH: Again, that's a very good question for the Obama campaign. I mean, this is something that the McCain campaign has been actively pursuing and really over the last several weeks made it clear to us that, you know, day after day that they were going to put forward some -- some different ideas.

We caught that today. You know, Senator Obama did talk last week about some of his ideas. He's talked about $150 billion for government money, for renewable energy. He's talked about tax rebates, things like that. So, they both have talked about this but I think...

DOBBS: These are very specific proposals, Dana, coming from the McCain campaign with its offshore drilling, with the proposals today. I mean this is clearly putting forward advanced stakes in the energy policy-to-be.

BASH: I think the McCain campaign would be very glad to hear you say that, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Well whether glad or not, I said it because I mean it. Thanks Dana -- Dana Bash.

Obama advisers tonight saying they have no more plans to use an Obama seal that looks very similar to the presidential -- well it depends. I don't think it looks anything at all like the presidential seal, but apparently somebody was trying.

Obama used that seal on the campaign trail Friday in an event with Democratic governors. There you go, just above the Obama seal a Latin phrase meaning, well, coming -- it doesn't really mean it, but they tried to make it mean "yes, we can."

It really means truly we are able. The presidential seal also has a Latin phrase that means "out of many, one". That was replaced. That was replaced. There's a big "O" there too where there used to be a shield. It must stand for something like "Obama" perhaps.

The Obama campaign says its seal is a onetime thing for a onetime event. We learned that after there was some considerable criticism of it.

Well rising evidence tonight that race and group and identity politics all playing a significant role in our culture and society. But a poll by ABC News and "The Washington Post" saying voters believe their opinion on race will not influence their voting decisions in November. Bill Schneider has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): First the bad news. About three in 10 Americans, 30 percent of whites and 34 percent of African-Americans acknowledge having at least some feelings of racial prejudice. Now the good news; Obama's race shows little, if any, effect on the way people vote according to "The Washington Post", which co-sponsored the poll with ABC News. "Post" columnist Colby King puts it this way.

COLBY KING, "WASHINGTON POST" COLUMNIST: I think this is a very race conscious country. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a prejudice country. It's just conscious and that's what we are as a country.

SCHNEIDER: Nearly a quarter of Americans say the race of the candidates will be an important factor in their vote for president. Forty percent, almost twice as many, say the age of the candidates will be important. Thirty-nine percent of whites who say race is not important are voting for Obama, but Obama gets the same support from whites who say race is important, which suggests that the white votes Obama is losing because he is black are counterbalanced by white votes he is gaining because he's black.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that people recognize the historic nature of this election, and would like to be able to support a candidate who represents I think where America's going.

SCHNEIDER: On the other hand, the age factor seems to be hurting John McCain.

MCCAIN: My friends, I'm not the youngest candidate, but I am -- but I am the most experienced.


SCHNEIDER: Voters who say the age of the candidate is important give McCain much less support.


SCHNEIDER: You have to worry that people will not express their true feelings about race to a poll interviewer or maybe even to themselves. They may not feel the same inhibitions about age. They may see age as less of a prejudice and more of a legitimate concern. But, that legitimate concern should not be age. It should be the health and physical capabilities of the candidates. Lou.

DOBBS: And why isn't that being polled?

SCHNEIDER: It is being polled. They asked people -- oh, you mean the physical capabilities of the candidates.

DOBBS: Correct.

SCHNEIDER: I've never seen that polled, only age.

DOBBS: Only age. SCHNEIDER: It's an interesting question...

DOBBS: So the pollsters are ageist themselves, right?

SCHNEIDER: That's entirely possible. I'd like to see that poll.

DOBBS: Well, let's -- you know what? Let's do this. You and I will order it up here at CNN. How about right now?


DOBBS: All right.

SCHNEIDER: Good idea.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Senator Obama today stepping up his efforts to win the support of women voters. In a speech today in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Obama said he will fight for equal pay for women if he is elected president. Obama also praised his former Democratic rival, Senator Clinton, in an effort to win over more of her supporters.

Senator McCain is also fighting hard to pick up the women's vote. Women make up, of course, just more than half of the electorate. Women, however, have historically been more inclined to support the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. Pollsters tell us that means McCain will have a tough time trying to convince women to support him. In point of fact, "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows Obama already has 55 percent of the female vote.

Still ahead here, much more on the presidential campaign, also pro-amnesty lobbyists and so-called environmentalists, well they got stuffed by the Supreme Court. We'll be telling you all about that. We'll have complete coverage in a new scandal over the efforts of corporate elites to replace American workers with cheap foreign labor. We'll have that report as well.

It gets better and better. Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: The Supreme Court today refusing to block construction of that fence being built along our border with Mexico. The justices declining to hear the case brought by open borders advocates masquerading in this case as environmental groups and in one case as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the Congress. As Lisa Sylvester now reports, it's an outright victory for the Bush administration, for the American people and a clear defeat for those open borders advocates.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Department of Homeland Security plans to build 670 miles of vehicle barriers and fencing by the end of next year. The national security fence is designed to keep drug runners, human smugglers and illegal aliens out.

To meet the deadline, the agency has had to waive environmental and other regulations as allowed under Congressional law. But environmentalists complained and filed a lawsuit, noting that endangered jaguars could be affected by the fence construction.

MATT CLARK, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE: What we are looking at here is the federal government ramming a project through that's ineffective and is going to harm our public lands and our wildlife.

SYLVESTER: A lower court sided with the federal government. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to intervene in the dispute, effectively giving the Department of Homeland Security the green light to proceed. DHS responded saying, quote, "we're obviously pleased that the Supreme Court has let the lower court's ruling stand. The American people expect this department to enforce the rule of law at the border."

For Texas Congressman John Culberson the court's decision was a no-brainer.

REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: For the public safety and priority of protecting this nation comes first before the rights of animals. And the fence will be built under law. It has to be built and now we know from the Supreme Court it will be built on time.

SYLVESTER: But the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Bennie Thompson, who filed a brief supporting the environmentalists reacted to the decision saying, "This waiver will only prolong the department from addressing the real issue, their lack of a comprehensive border security plan. Without a comprehensive plan, this fence is just another quick fix."

Now, Congress has made it very clear that DHS has the authority to waive these laws, most recently in the Real ID Act and in the DHS appropriations bill, but this doesn't end the legal challenges. There is at least one other environmental group suing DHS to try to stop the border fence. Lou.

DOBBS: And which group of little darlings is that?

SYLVESTER: It's a group called Frontera Audubon, which is a local group that's based out of Texas, but they're going to keep trying and trying until they try to get this project essentially derailed, but the U.S. Supreme Court in all likelihood will not rule in their favor because it's based on the same grounds as this other lawsuit.

DOBBS: All right. Well it ought to be clear even to that group with the fancy name. I appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much.

Well, so far about half of that, 700 miles of fence mandated by the Border Fence Act of 2006 has been built, 150 miles of vehicle fencing, 182 miles of pedestrian fencing we're told is completed. The Department of Homeland Security expecting to finish another 340 miles by the end of this year, plans to have fencing or surveillance in place, are you ready, by 2010 -- government moving at a just lightning speed.

The Supreme Court decision on the border fence is one of several decisions expected this week. And the justices are expected to make a ruling as well on a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., that could have an effect on your constitutional right to bear arms.

Joining me now is Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court", also of course he is our senior legal analyst here at CNN. Jeffrey, good to have you with us -- were you surprised by the Supreme Court decision today saying go get them, build that fence?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Not at all because the law Congress passed was very explicit that this law about the fence trumped environmental regulations, so they were not -- the court was not going to step in...

DOBBS: And you just heard Lisa Sylvester report there is another group of little, what I refer to pleasantly as I can little darlings who really think that their interests should be -- should subsume the national interests. What are the odds that they would even be able to slow it down?

TOOBIN: Remote, but people always file lawsuits. This is America.

DOBBS: Isn't that -- well, you know I don't think America should be defined by a bunch of idiots filing lawsuits.


DOBBS: I know you're a lawyer...

TOOBIN: It's not the only definition of America.


TOOBIN: It's one definition of America.

DOBBS: It is a small teeny, tiny...


DOBBS: ... often irrelevant definition.

TOOBIN: Right.

DOBBS: Let's talk about that handgun ban. It is supposed to come down this week. What do you think?

TOOBIN: I think it's a really such a fascinating case because the Supreme Court has not interpreted the Second Amendment since 1939. It just has not come before the justices. Based on the oral argument, based on the records of the justices, I do think they're going to strike down this law as a violation of the Second Amendment the right to keep and bear arms.


TOOBIN: Well, but...

DOBBS: No buts.


DOBBS: Just leave it there.

TOOBIN: Well...

DOBBS: Just leave it there.

TOOBIN: But they are going to want to make a limit on that decision somehow because they don't want a situation where you have a right to buy a surface-to-air missile. So, they are going to want -- well, they are going to want to define the right in such a way handguns yes, tanks no.

DOBBS: You know, if the Supreme Court gets into legislating a definition, I mean, that would be going well beyond what anybody on the -- I think what anyone reasonably would expect a court to do in the way of judicial restraint. I mean, my gosh, talk about getting a little active to sit there making the definitions. That would be properly the role of a legislature.

TOOBIN: Not necessarily, because they define the limits of constitutional rights all the time. I have a right to have a protest rally. But I don't have a right to have a protest rally outside your home at 3:00 in the morning. That's a restriction on the right that the courts have approved. The question is...

DOBBS: But that's built in common law over a long time. There's plenty of precedent from which that evolves. There would be absolutely no precedent in law, common law, for any Supreme Court decision based on (INAUDIBLE) that would suggest, you know the Supreme Court should be deciding what is an arm and what is not.

TOOBIN: Well, I'm sure that's right because...

DOBBS: Well that's why I'm testing you.


DOBBS: I'm testing you.


DOBBS: I'm testing you, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: I think the scope of the right may be limited somehow by the size of the weapon. I think they're concerned...

DOBBS: Well... TOOBIN: The justices are going to be concerned about that.

DOBBS: Well they better. I'm delighted -- (INAUDIBLE) -- until you got to that "but" part I was thrilled.


DOBBS: Let's just keep that Second Amendment rolling.


TOOBIN: You're going to win, so that's the most important part.

DOBBS: You better believe it every time. The American people are going to win.

TOOBIN: Well...

DOBBS: That's what we're counting on, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: You and them both.

DOBBS: All right. Thanks a lot.


DOBBS: One in the same, partner. Jeffrey Toobin.

A seal of disapproval for Senator Obama, we'll be talking with three of the best political analysts in the country about a wacky idea to give a fellow running for president a look-alike presidential seal.

And Americans losing another battle in the war on the middle class, business elites celebrating, we'll tell you why -- the son-of- a-guns, we'll be right back.


DOBBS: Up next, stunning video of the drug war raging along our border with Mexico. Please don't miss it. It's incredible.


DOBBS: Well, most Americans know that Nielsen brand as a TV ratings company, of course. The company is not headquartered, however, in this country. It's a Dutch company owned by a group of hedge funds and despite revenues that topped a billion dollars in the first three months of this year, Nielsen is firing American workers and replacing them with foreign workers in its Florida office and I suspect that we -- well I'm sure we're not putting at risk the ratings for this broadcast by bringing you the news on Nielsen and cheap labor. Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Globalization is taking the toll on the employees of Nielsen. The company has announced it is cutting seven percent of the jobs at Nielsen Media in Oldsmar, Florida and the number is likely to increase. Nielsen executives won't be specific about how many employees have lost their jobs or likely to lose their jobs, conceding only that it is in the range of 150 to 300.

Rubbing salt into the wound, the Nielsen workers are being replaced by people on guest worker visas employed by TATA Consulting Services of India, one of the top five users of the H-1B visa program. The action has one city council member furious.

JANICE MILLER, OLDSMAR, FL CITY COUNCIL: I am incensed that our government would allow this to happen to the American people. But as I said before, this is all about driving down the wages in this country. It's -- it's -- to me it's un-American.

TUCKER: The city's other movers and shakers don't seem to be as angry as the councilwoman. The mayor's not. He points to the city's broad employer base and says the city, quote, "will weather the economic downturn."

The Chamber of Commerce is not angry. It calls Nielsen, quote, "an excellent business and community partner" and neither the Chamber nor the mayor expressed outrage when asked about the company's requirement that fired employees must train their replacements as a condition of receiving their severance.

The company defends its actions as necessary in a globally competitive environment where speed and cost are key. Quote, "the overwhelming majority of Nielsen's work today is handled by the company's own talented employees. In addition, many of the U.S. positions that have been transitioned to outside partners remain American-based jobs." "American-based jobs" not necessarily held by American workers.

Now, none of the workers were willing to talk to us on the record or on camera, understandably so for fear of losing their severance or jeopardizing their own jobs and the jobs being outsourced are not just I.T. jobs, as you are used to hearing. Nielsen also out sources its payroll, its finance, as well as jobs of employees responsible for producing those daily and weekly ratings reports that everyone hears about all the time, Lou.

DOBBS: And the mayor thinks it's just hunky-dory, huh?

TUCKER: Well...

DOBBS: Well maybe if we started outsourcing the mayor's job and those other City Council jobs and replacing them with H-1B visa workers, maybe the folks in Oldsmar would be getting more value. What do you think?

TUCKER: Well and I think the mayor might be influenced by the fact that Nielsen is their largest employer, Lou, so I'm afraid -- I think he's probably afraid to go against the company as a matter of fact. DOBBS: Well, you know, you would like to believe that he would be more concerned about the fact that those jobs are going to be replaced. Those people are losing their jobs, are going to have American-based jobs filled by H-1B visa workers?

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: And this City Council does not understand that that is simply a drive lower in the international wage scales? I mean that -- that doesn't occur to them?

TUCKER: The only City Council member who has spoken out and who is outraged about this is Janice Miller, the woman who was in my piece.

DOBBS: I got to tell you people -- you know what -- if the people there in Florida think this is fine, then you know they're going to be part of the reason that the quality of life and the standard of living in this country continues to decline because Nielsen doing this, shouldn't even be allowed to rate U.S. television networks and broadcasts period.

I mean, how dare them? How dare them? So, we'll, you know, we'll see how this plays out with the usual acquiescence, I suspect. Thank you very much, Bill Tucker.

Well, big corporations like Microsoft and Google have pushed for an increase in the number of these so-called temporary visas in order to bring more cheap foreign labor into this country. There is a cap of 65,000 regular H-1B visas.

Another 20,000 of those visas are set aside for high-tech workers with advanced degrees each year. This April the Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency received 163,000 applications for those H- 1B visas next year. The H-1B visa program is intended to be a temporary worker program, but is in fact anything but.

The H-1B's are now issued on a three-year basis that can be extended to six years. No government agency, no government agency actually monitors these workers to make certain they leave the United States when their visas expire. And by the way, most of those visas are going to low-skill workers, not to high-skill workers, and seven out of the top 20 companies using them are Indian companies based in the United States for the purpose of outsourcing work just like what you're watching happen there with Nielsen in Bill Tucker's report.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe the government of the United States should, at a minimum -- at a minimum -- keep track of people who are in this country on what are called temporary visas? Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later.

Up next, Senators Obama and McCain battling one another on energy policy or the lack thereof. Are they pandering as well -- oh no! I'll be joined by three political analysts with an independent view. I'll -- I'll bring that to the discussion. And rising demands for new competition to supply a tanker aircraft to the U.S. Air Force and stop the outsourcing of our national security. I'll be joined by a leading congressman in that fight. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: New evidence tonight of the success of the surge strategy in Iraq. A Pentagon report to the U.S. Congress now shows there's been a sharp decline in violence, since the surge went into operation nearly a year ago.

Some types of violence have fallen by as much as 80 percent. But military officials say the gains are fragile, reversible, and uneven; that language, of course, from a recent assessment. The reinforcements sent to Iraq as part of the surge will leave the country by the middle of next month.

In Iraq today, a local councilman killed two of our troops in a shooting incident south of Baghdad. Our other troops returned fire, killing the councilman. Twenty of our troops have now been killed in Iraq so far this month; 4,104 of our troops killed since the war began; 30,247 our troops wounded; 13,441 of our troops wounded seriously.

A rising number of our troops are being killed in Afghanistan. Six troops killed over the past six days. 444 of our troops killed since the war in Afghanistan began in October of 2001.

Senator McCain tonight is trying to distance himself from a top adviser who said that another terrorist attack in the United States would be a big advantage for the McCain campaign. The adviser is Charlie Black. He's apologized for the comment and the Obama campaign is calling the comment a complete disgrace.

Joining me now are three of the best political analysts in the country. Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis and in our Washington, D.C. bureau, syndicated columnist Diana West.

Let me start Hank. Your reaction first to Charlie Black and his comment?

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Charlie Black probably wishes he had not said this at all. It doesn't do him well, it does not do the campaign well and it really doesn't hurt Barack Obama. That's the problem here.

DOBBS: You know -- Errol as a journalist, let me ask you. Are you at all offended by the fact that not too much note has been taken today of the fact that the "Fortune" magazine reporter asked Charlie Black the question, what would happen with another terrorist attack? It isn't as if Charlie Black came at this out of whole cloth and created this sentence.

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: That's right, he was thinking about it clearly. I think the problem is that in some way it's not just offensive, it's also somewhat incoherent. Clearly the --

DOBBS: The question or the answer?

LOUIS: The answer. With the McCain campaign, it sounds like it's trying to have it both ways. If the surge is somewhat successful, the president's policy to which McCain is joined at the hip, he'll say this is evidence that my wisdom and experience are proven right. On the other hand, his advisers say, "Well, you know what, if there's an attack and it looks like security is going down the tubes that will help you too."

It doesn't make a lot of sense and it will be up to the candidate to explain who meant what and what the real policy is.

DOBBS: Okay, Diana?

DIANA WEST, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think, unfortunately it does make sense in politics, yes, as Hank said, but the -- the fact is that any reminder of the fact that we are in a war on global jihad is of benefit to the candidate who believes we are in a war-time situation.

Senator Obama's made it very clear that he believes terrorism is simply a matter of cops and robbers. So, I think that what we're looking at is the divide between the so-called September 10th mindset of Senator Obama and the so-called September 11th mindset of John McCain.

DOBBS: Wait a second --

LOUIS: After hundreds of billions of dollars spent isn't it safe to say we're not supposed to be having attacks on the American soil? In the horrible event that that did happen, it wouldn't speak well of the approach that's been tried for the last eight years, would it?

DOBBS: All this does --

WEST: Errol asked me.

DOBBS: She's got you.

WEST: I think you can say the war is ongoing. The war continues. We have not won this war and I'm certainly of the opinion that it will continue. I don't know if Senator McCain fully understands it. But he does grasp that we need to be in an offensive mode and Obama does not.

DOBBS: Are you supporting McCain or are you opposed to him? When you're talking about what he grasps and what he doesn't, you make it sound as if he has a tenuous hold.

WEST: I feel like most people do. I feel honestly that there kind of an amorphous sense here among Conservatives that we are still in a war, whereas Democrats think we are not. And this is kind --

DOBBS: Let's go to the Democrat, Hank Sheinkopf, you were about to -- you were very patient there.

SHEINKOPF: I'm very patient because I like Diana West and let me get to the point. I don't like her politics. Here's why.

Charlie Black made a big boo boo. He should have paid attention and not answered the question that way because all it did was open up John McCain to more commercials of, "By the way, 100 years in Iraq John McCain and how silly you look today." Not good for America and not good for our fighting men and women.

DOBBS: Now wait a minute. Hank, come on, if we're going to start a duel of talking points; the 100 years -- you want to put it in context for McCain if you want --

SHEINKOPF: I can put it in context, Lou.

DOBBS: Please do. Please do.

SHEINKOPF: He said, "If required we will have akin to what we have in Korea and other places with combat troops on the ground." But that is not what the Democrats --

DOBBS: But the issue is casualties; not the number of years in which our troops are --

SHEINKOPF: That is correct.

DOBBS: This is a beginning, right here on "THE LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" show tonight, we're putting context to talking points for one side or the other.

Earl, isn't your heart lighter as a result?

LOUIS: Well, I wish I could say that. We are in the midst of a hard-fought campaign as you know, Lou, it's fought news cycle by news cycle. And sometimes more than one news cycle in one day. So a day that McCain fails to get his point across is a day that they lost. And the days are going become fewer and they're going to become more precious and they can't get them back.

DOBBS: Who can't get them back?

LOUIS: Any candidate who loses a cycle the way McCain has. This is just not the way it works, you know.

DOBBS: Well, let's take a look -- just for the heck of it. I'd like everybody to hear, if you would, listen to this disavow -- McCain disavowing the remarks by Charlie Black.

Just, if you will.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I cannot imagine why he would say it. It's not true. It's -- I've worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.


DOBBS: What in the world is he trying to say? I don't even know what he's trying to distance himself from.

WEST: Right, right.

SHEINKOPF: But these are all losing arguments. It's not going to work, and the American people, particularly the younger people, would say, "Wait a second; I would never giving you my vote. Why? Because I can't understand what you're saying." What Errol said before, it's incoherent.

DOBBS: That is absolutely incoherent and the statement that he made, Diana West, it was in reaction, in response to a reporter's question. Charlie Black didn't make this out of whole cloth.

This is like that talk show host up in Cincinnati where he started denouncing and all of this other stuff before he even knew what the heck was going on. He was denouncing --

WEST: I completely agree. Apology was not the correct response. I think what he should have done is put it into context. Explain that we are at war and that this came out of a reporter's discussion. It was a ridiculous response by John McCain. I agree with that.

DOBBS: All right, let's get to -- and I really do not understand -- this doesn't happen often. I do not know what in the world Senator McCain was trying to say.

Let's go to the seal, the real-deal seal for Senator Obama. What is -- what's going on here?

SHEINKOPF: A little bit presumptuous wouldn't you say?

DOBBS: Crazy I would say.

SHEINKOPF: He's not going to like to get reporters --

DOBBS: He seems like sort of like a boy scout wanting to have sergeant's stripes.

SHEINKOPF: He hasn't even been elected yet and the reporters haven't figured out how to finish his carving his face into Mt. Rushmore. And now he has this seal.

DOBBS: He could have gotten some more flags behind him.

SHEINKOPF: Unbelievable.

LOUIS: You know, the seal of Illinois probably would have served just as well.

WEST: Absolutely.

DOBBS: Can somebody explain to me why you need a seal. I don't get it.

SHEINKOPF: You don't. You don't. And it's bad. It doesn't look good.

WEST: It's a subliminal advertising with a sledgehammer.

DOBBS: It's all working for me. I'm just proud to see these two men vying for the presidency of the United States.

Diana West, thank you very much. Errol Louis, thank you very much. Hank Sheinkopf, thank you very much.

Up next, the push for new bidding in that $35 billion U.S. Air Force Tanker deal. Congressman Todd Tiahrt tells us what he's doing to save American jobs and what the Air Force should do next.

Drug dealers trying to smuggle marijuana. We were there with the authorities. We'll have that report here next.


DOBBS: The Government Accountability Office recommended the Air Force reopen the bidding for that $35 billion tanker aircraft contract. The deal awarded originally to the European consortium that builds Airbus and Northrop Grumman over a competing bid from Boeing.

The GAO decision, however, is certainly not binding. And Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Kansas is introducing a bill this week that will require the Air Force to require new Air Force bids.

Congressman Tiahrt joins us now from Washington, D.C. Good to have you with us.

REP. TODD TIAHRT, (R) KANSAS: Thank you, it's good to be with you.

DOBBS: How can you require the Air Force to do this? How will that work?

TIAHRT: Well, I have legislation that I'll be dropping this Wednesday with co-sponsors that says you have a good set of requirements. Let's tighten it up so that you have a level playing field for American workers and let's re-bid this contract. That's basically what it does.

The Air Force really has three options. They can ignore what the GAO said, they could re-bid it or they could award to it the Boeing Company. But we think that right now it looks like they're moving towards a re-competition.

DOBBS: Well, a re-competition. What about the idea of American defense contractors, for example including Northrop Grumman, working with Boeing to build this contract rather than putting them in competition with one another and bringing in Airbus or any other foreign firm to allow the United States government to outsource national security? It makes no sense. TIAHRT: No, it doesn't make any sense. And this GAO report was scathing. It said that the Air Force violated their own rules. They misled the Boeing Company. They miscalculated the cost and the Boeing Company was actually the lowest.

So, it's really difficult for -- to understand why they would bend over backwards to outsource our national security to the French.

DOBBS: Well, this says it point-blank, and I'd like everybody to see this, if they could, from the General Accountability Office put up this full screen. It says, to sustain that protest "The United States Air Force conducted misleading and unequal discussions with Boeing."

I mean, that's outrageous. Now, I know that part of Boeing is in your home district there in Wichita, but I mean, this is crazy stuff.

TIAHRT: Well, they also said that the French tanker was noncompliant. That means it was ineligible from the beginning and the Air Force overlooked that.

DOBBS: And no mention of the fact that Airbus is subsidized, that EADS is in the business of subsidies. But, again, this idea, I want everybody in this country to have a job. I'm sorry, that's just me.

I'd like the folks down in Alabama to have their jobs in this. I'd like the folks in Kansas and in Washington, all around the country working for Boeing and Northrop Grumman to be working on this project together. Is that a possibility here?

TIAHRT: Well, not under the current ground rules.

DOBBS: Well, let's fix it! Let's fix the ground rules. You're the boss. You're in congress.

TIAHRT: That's why I put this RFP together that lays out a level playing field for American workers. It would allow a Northrop Grumman and a Boeing to team together in this situation.

DOBBS: All right.

TIAHRT: But right now we want American workers to be employed and that's how I designed this Request for a Proposal in this new legislation so that we can have an equal level playing field because I believe we win. We work harder and we're more productive.

DOBBS: Congressman, I got to be honest with you. I want an equal playing field for our workers without question but I don't want national security and I don't think most Americans want national security ever outsourced ever again.

TIAHRT: You're absolutely right.

DOBBS: And I just want to compliment you and congratulate you on the legislation; sensible, in the national interests. Wow, what are you thinking about, Congressman? TIAHRT: I think we got a good chance here to make it right for the American workers who work hard every day to feed their families and pay taxes are the people that we need to continue a strong economy and a safe nation.

DOBBS: Congressman Todd Tiahrt, we thank you for being here. Appreciate it.

TIAHRT: Thank you.

Coming up at the top of the hour, "The Election Center" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf Blitzer? Sitting in for Campbell Brown; Wolf, what are you doing?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, SITUATION ROOM: Working hard just like you, Lou, thanks very much.

Coming up right at the top of the hour we're going to be talking about what you've been talking about but more of the controversial comments by Senator McCain's adviser that a terrorist attack would be, quote, "a big advantage for him." Barack Obama calls that remark a complete disgrace. John McCain says he can't imagine why his top strategist Charlie Black said it.

We'll have all the latest developments including an apology. We'll also look at whether Barack Obama really has a problem attracting women voters. It's all just ahead, right at the top of the hour here at the "Election Center" -- Lou.

DOBBS: If you can figure out what Senator John McCain said in that apology, Wolf, let's talk about it tomorrow because I need some explanation on that part.

BLITZER: All right, we'll work on it.

DOBBS: You got it. I appreciate it. We'll look forward to it.

A reminder now to vote on our poll tonight. The question is -- do you believe the government of the United States should, at a minimum, keep track of the people who are in this country on so called 'temporary visas'?" Cast your votes on We'll have the results in just a moment.

Up next, how the rich use our government to their advantage? Impossible. David Cay Johnson, author of "Free Lunch" joins me next.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: My next guest says the government is the servant of the rich. David Cay Johnson author of "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You with the Bill."

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, former reporter to the "New York Times," good guy, good to have you with us.

DAVID CAY JOHNSON: Thank you for having me, Lou.

DOBBS: It's a terrific book. You argue that the government is the servant of the rich. How did this happen?

JOHNSON: Well, the campaign finance reform system. We have something I call the political donor class. Literally if you were a congressman, your day would be spent talking to the representatives of wealthy people in large corporations about their problems. You wouldn't have a minute to think about the problems of the middle- class, the poor, even the upper middle-class.

DOBBS: Well, and I'd also be spending most of my time explaining why I was using profanities with the rest of the members of congress throughout the day.

JOHNSON: Not that that's unheard of.

DOBBS: No. But you say in 1975 -- I thought this was fascinating -- Washington lobbyists collected less than $100 million in lobbying fees; by 2006 $2.5 billion -- approaching now -- $3 billion. What's going on?

JOHNSON: There's -- the number of lobbyists in Washington, all the things you do in the war on the middle-class, about all of the jobs that are disappearing and being lost, well guess what, Washington lobbyists more than doubled in numbers from 2000 to 2007. There are now more than 35,000.

And the reason is simple. It is easier to mine gold from the public treasury than to earn it in the marketplace. So, there are whole industries I tell about in "Free Lunch" that derive all their profits from hidden subsidies and from taxes that you pay that never get to the government but are diverted to the Walton family, the richest family in America, to Warren Buffett, to all sorts of individuals and large corporations through programs we know very little about.

DOBBS: We would never want to deny the Walton family or Warren Buffett any kind of advantage in this economy, would we?

JOHNSON: Well, I think they -- you want your people to earn their money in the marketplace. Not getting it by forcing me or you to pay a tax.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

JOHNSON: That goes to them.

DOBBS: One of the most disturbing chapters in your book, Chinese magnetism; detailing how the U.S. government allowed the sale of magnet technology, a critical component of national defense. The Chinese have now a monopoly on these magnets needed for smart bombs, ladies and gentlemen. We use them from time to time in this government. Here's what you wrote -- "Not only is the technical knowledge largely gone, but America's only neodymium mine shut down in 1996. And 85 percent of our planet's known stores of neodymium are now in one country." Guess what country?


DOBBS: How stupid are we?

JOHNSON: The Chinese military has a strategy of buying commercial interests and through fronts, the Chinese military and the daughter of Deng Xiaoping, who at the time the supreme commander of that country, were involved in these deals.

The Clinton administration allowed the deals on the condition the technology remain in America. The Bush administration allowed its removal. And why? Apparently so that General Motors could get a deal to build a factory to build automobiles or trucks.

This is craziness. This is -- this is not free trade. This is not efficiently organizing the world's assets. This is craziness.

DOBBS: This is selling out the United States. Point-blank.

JOHNSON: It certainly is. I am shocked that we have not had congressional investigations into this. That we haven't had questions about whether there were criminal acts committed. This is a very serious matter. We know about this one. How many other ones are there going on?

DOBBS: You said President Bush. Which one was it again?

JOHNSON: President Clinton allowed the deal and President Bush allowed the removal of the technology from the United States. When you ask congress about this and Senator Bayh has asked them, I've asked them; they're answer is, "We're taking care of your safety. We know what we're doing." That's all they'll say.

DOBBS: Well, I guarantee you this, I can't think of an example that they can hold up where they could honestly claim with any evidence that they know what they're doing. It's extraordinary.

And I love the fact that you point out, correctly, so this is not a partisan issue, that people don't in any way get distracted by that. This goes back to Clinton. It goes back to this Bush. It goes back frankly to --

JOHNSON: These are bipartisan problems that are Washington and to what has happened to our government and how estranged it's become for most Americans.

DOBBS: Unbelievable. It's just incredible and I'd like -- when we say it's a partisan problem, as you document in your book, "Free Lunch," it's our problem. The American people's problem.

JOHNSON: It sure is. DOBBS: This nation's problem.

David as always, good to have you here. Another great, great piece of work in "Free Lunch."

We thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

DOBBS: I can't recommend the book highly enough. Thank you.

Up next, a brazen effort to smuggle drugs into this country and we caught it on camera.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well, stunning video evidence tonight of the drug wars raging along our border with Mexico. Mexican smugglers becoming more brazen in their efforts to bring drugs into this country. We have video tonight of an effort to smuggle $500,000 worth of marijuana across the border and in broad daylight.

Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thursday afternoon in Yuma, Arizona, a pickup truck stops in a cloud of dust on the banks of the Colorado River. A border patrol surveillance camera shows five men loading bundles of marijuana into the truck. They attempt to cover the load with brush from the river. Then the truck backs up, while one of the smugglers erases their tracks with more brush.

As the border patrol approaches, the truck speeds away and the chase is on. The smuggler then led agents through city streets. A border patrol spokesman said agents kept their distance to protect public safety. Eventually the driver headed back towards the border.

In pursuit, a customs and border protection black hawk helicopter and at least three border patrol vehicles. The pursuit lasted more than 20 minutes.

A few hours earlier in Laredo, Texas, 19 new graduates of the Border Patrol Academy reported for duty. The latest additions of an agency struggling to reach its goal of adding 6,000 agents.

DAVID AGUILAR, BORDER PATROL CHIEF: We are meeting our recruitment challenges. We are currently a little below target but not by much. And we are heading towards the 18,319 border patrol agents that we are shooting for at the end of the calendar year.

WIAN: In fact the agency is about 1200 agents short of the target President Bush set in 2006 when he temporarily deployed the National Guard to the border, which brings us back to that drug smuggler in Yuma. While the border patrol did seize the marijuana and the truck, the smuggler escaped back to Mexico by abandoning his vehicle in the same place where his accomplices loaded the drugs.


WIAN: Now a border patrol spokesman says more agents would not have prevented the smuggler from getting away, he was able to escape by scrambling into the underbrush and wading through the shallow Colorado River about a hundred yards back into Mexico. The border patrol spokesman, Lou, said - quote - "This guy was really lucky."

DOBBS: Well, I hope it was lucky, because it really looks bad to have a Blackhawk helicopter and all of those vehicles and agents swarming after him, pursuing him for well, it had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 40 minutes from the border and to Yuma back to the border and to get away scot-free. I mean, that doesn't look so good, does it?

WIAN: No, it sure doesn't, and it sure makes you wonder whether there were you know, if there were National Guard personnel monitoring that remote surveillance camera instead of a Border patrol agent, maybe it would have freed up another agent to be involved in that pursuit or to block off the access road. We don't know, but the Border Patrol does say the number of agents is not the issue.

DOBBS: Yes, well, I guess that leaves us with one other thing -- effectiveness of the agents. But we probably don't want to go there tonight, do we?

WIAN: I don't, Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, thanks very much. Casey Wian, from Los Angeles.

The results of our poll tonight -- 98 percent of you say the government of the United States should at a minimum keep track of people who are in this country on so-called temporary visas. Only 98 percent. My guess is the other 2 percent are working for Citizenship and Immigration Services. I can't imagine who wouldn't think that. But that's all right. That's why we ask these questions.

We had a technical problem with our poll last Friday and we have the results for you tonight. 85 percent of you said you believe Mayor Bloomberg should spend his time fixing public schools and potholes in New York City rather than boosting Senator Obama in Florida, and kind of irritating me as well.

Time now for some of your thoughts. I just added the last part for fun.

Mike in South Carolina, "Lou, how in the world do all these people in our government still have jobs? If my job performance was as poor as those in FDA, Homeland Security and Congress, I would be fired in a minute. Is the middle class the only group that has to do a good job to keep a job?"

I'm afraid it's looking a lot like that. And Thomas in Connecticut, "Dear Lou, I woke up this morning a registered Republican. I'll go to bed tonight a registered independent. You helped me see the light. Keep up the good work."

You too. Thank you and welcome aboard.

Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here, good night from New York. "THE ELECTION CENTER" with Wolf Blitzer starts now -- Wolf.