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Lou Dobbs Tonight
"Nation of Whiners"; Iran Missiles -- Fact or Fiction?; Karl Rove Refuses to Obey House Committee Subpoena; Department of Cheap Labor
Aired July 10, 2008 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight, Senator McCain's Straight Talk Express veering a little bit off course after some straight talk by one of his top economic advisers; the adviser saying that we are a nation of whiners. We'll be discussing that.
And tonight, first the presidential candidates, now the president's labor secretary, all of them pandering to ethnocentric special interests groups. And, oh yes, not paying much attention to the middle class.
Tonight a new showdown over San Francisco's sanctuary policy for illegal aliens; a major legal challenge to the outrageous of an outrageous mayor, who still wants to be, we're told, governor of California.
All of that, all the day's news and much more with an independent perspective straight ahead here, tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT;" news, debate and opinion for Thursday, July 10th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Senator McCain tonight on the defensive; one of his top advisers called America the nation of whiners. The McCain adviser, a former senator by the name of Phil Gramm, also declared Americans who complain about a worsening economy are suffering from what he called a mental recession.
Senator Obama seized on those remarks and attacked McCain and his policies. Obama, perhaps welcoming a distraction from his own problems, told voters this economic downturn is not in your head.
Dana Bash in Washington with our report -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, when I first called the McCain adviser about Phil Gramm's comments, there was an audible, beleaguered sigh on the other end of the phone. McCain aides knew right away this hurt their efforts and message control.
In hard-hit Michigan, this is McCain mantra on the economy. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are hurting. People are hurting very badly.
BASH: A carefully measured message that's part feel your pain, part realist but all optimist.
MCCAIN: But they need to have trust and hope and confidence in the future.
BASH: Given that, quotes in the "Washington Times" from Phil Gramm, one of John McCain's top economic advisers were a big oops.
"We have become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness."
Gramm also said, "You've heard of mental depression, this is mental recession."
McCain couldn't distance himself fast enough from his friend.
MCCAIN: Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me. So -- I strongly disagree.
BASH: He struggled to steer his economic message back on course.
MCCAIN: The person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn't suffering from a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan, and around America, who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn't whining.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not all in your head.
BASH: Minutes earlier, Barack Obama shoved a dig about Phil Gramm's comment into his speech.
OBAMA: America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one.
BASH: Now, surrogate slipups have plagued both campaigns. Obama recently rebuked retired Gen. Wesley Clark, his supporter, for questioning McCain's military service.
RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK, OBAMA SUPPORTER: And John McCain has character.
BASH: The problem for McCain is that relies on Gramm, a PhD in economics, for policy advice and as a character witness for voters worried McCain doesn't get the economy.
MCCAIN: The reason why I have the support of people like Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm is because of their confidence in my proven record of handling the economy.
BASH: Now, I spoke with Phil Gramm by phone this afternoon. He wanted to clarify his comments.
First, he told me that he didn't mean to say Americans were whining about the economy but many of the country's leaders are. Here's what he said. He said, quote, "The whiners are the leaders. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn't quite come out that way in the story."
Lou, Gramm did stand by his comments about what he called a mental recession. Here's what he told me about that. He said, quote, "We keep getting the steady drum beat of bad news. It's become a mental recession. We don't have measured negative growth. That's a fact, that's not a commentary."
Lou, Gramm also insisted that he was speaking for himself and himself only, not on behalf of John McCain or his campaign. The McCain campaign confirmed that they didn't know about the interview that Bill Gramm did.
DOBBS: These two candidates seem like they don't need much help with friends like they have now. Whether it be Reverend Jackson taking on Obama, whether it be Phil Gramm who is clearly, clearly out of touch with reality speaking for Senator McCain. This is -- why do these campaigns tolerate this nonsense?
BASH: It's two sides to the same sword is I guess way to say it. When I spoke to some of McCain's advisers this morning and they were quite frustrated as you can imagine. They said, look "This is the problem, we all think that we need these surrogates to go out there and push our message. But the problem is, you can't control them, especially when they're people who have been around reporters for years and years." People like Phil Gramm who has basically been out of politics for a couple of years and they mess up.
DOBBS: That straight talk works pretty well when politicians can muster the courage for straight talk. Thank you very much. Dana Bash reporting.
Another top campaign adviser, Carly Fiorina, also being criticized for her views on so-called free trade and jobs. Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She presided over thousands of lay-offs at Hewlett-Packard before she was ultimately fired herself.
Fiorina defended her outsourcing of middle class jobs to cheap overseas labor market. She said famously, or infamously, "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore."
Turning to the rising tension over Iran's aggressive military buildup and military exercises, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today issued a blunt warning.
Speaking in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Secretary Rice declared the United States will defend Israel. She said, quote, "No one should be confused about that."
For its part, Iran today claimed it carried out a second consecutive day, a successful ballistic missile test. But a U.S. military source tells CNN that in point of fact, Iran fired only one missile today.
State-controlled media in Iran said today's test included missiles capable of striking targets in Israel. Iran claiming to have thousands of missiles including some capable of hitting targets more than 1,200 miles from their launch sites, of course, putting Israel within reach.
Those Iranian claims tonight are being treated with increasing skepticism, however. One reason is a blatant attempt by Iran to doctor a photograph from yesterday.
This photograph, distributed by the French News Agency, AFP, and published worldwide shows four Iranian missiles being launched at the same time. However, the photo was given to the AFP by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. This photo examined by the Associated Press, they sent out a new photograph from Iran showing only three missiles in flight.
U.S. officials saying one missile either failed to launch or wasn't fired for some other reason or perhaps was simply photo- shopped. No word from Iran tonight on precisely what happened.
New concern tonight about Iran's efforts to kill our troops in Iraq; Iranian-backed insurgents have been launching rocket-propelled mortars; they're called flying bombs at U.S. bases. Military officials say the bombs and their components come from Iran.
Barbara Starr has our report.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Last month, here in Baghdad's Atamia neighborhood, 18 civilians were killed and 29 wounded when a large explosion rocked the neighborhood. One of the latest examples of yet another type of bomb being used by insurgents; improvised rocket-assisted mortars or IRAMS.
MAJ. GEN. MICHAEL OATES, U.S. ARMY: It is an improvised munition locally fabricated, not done by a person without skill. And it's largely confined to the Baghdad area. It does concern us.
STARR: These IRAMS are sometimes called flying IEDs. But these are not the IEDs, road side bombs, being planted on the roads. With these, insurgents line the back of trucks with launch tubes. Using Iranian-made rocket charges, they propel cylinders full of explosives like mortar and tank shells sometimes over walls more than 20 feet high, the type surrounding U.S. bases.
OATES: It's a homemade multiple launch rocket system. It's very dangerous. We will attempt to eliminate this threat.
STARR: This type of technology has been used before. A similar configuration may have been used by the IRA in a 1991 attack on Number 10 Downing Street.
In Iraq, already three U.S. troops have been killed by these so- called flying IEDs. But once again, it is Iraqi civilians, largely unprotected on the streets who are suffering the most from these new killer weapons.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
DOBBS: And insurgents have killed another of our troops. The military said the soldier was killed in an explosion without any other details. Three of our troops have now been killed in Iraq this month. 4,116 of our troops since the war began have been killed. 30,349 of our troops wounded, 13,483 of them seriously.
In Washington today, President Bush's former political adviser Karl Rove refused to obey a subpoena to testify before a House Judiciary Committee.
The committee ordered Rove to testify about allegations he and other Bush administration officials improperly dismissed U.S. attorneys and prosecuted officials who were political opponents. The White House says Rove is not required to testify because of executive privilege. House Democrats say Rove is breaking the law by not testifying.
Coming up here next, the Department of Labor demonstrating again it should be called the Department of Cheap Labor pandering this time to the illegal alien open borders lobby.
And seething anger in California over the San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his sanctuary policies. We'll have that special report.
We're coming right back.
DOBBS: Well, Senators Obama and McCain, this week, talking before one of the country's biggest pro-amnesty special interest groups trying to win over Hispanic voters, more pandering today this time from the Bush administration. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao pushing for free trade and more cheap foreign labor talking before the League of United Latin-American Citizens or LULAC.
Louise Schiavone has our report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Labor Secretary Elaine Chao regaled the Hispanic lobby group LULAC with details of the many ways President Bush has improved the status of Spanish-speaking workers.
ELAINE CHAO, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: The Department of Labor has worked with Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reach out to vulnerable immigrants to make sure that they are protected on the job and paid a full day's wage for a full day's work.
SCHIAVONE: And that she said included all workers.
CHAO: It is also the policy of this administration to enforce work place health, safety and compensation laws regardless of status.
SCHIAVONE: This former immigration official under the first President George says that's startling.
PROF. JAN TING, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: When you think about the history of the Department of Labor which was created with the goal of protecting the rights of American workers and ensuring their needs and expectations are met.
SCHIAVONE: At the same time, the Labor Department is proposing changes in H2-B visa regulations for migrant workers doing jobs like landscaping, construction and hotel work.
To streamline the process, says a Labor Department spokesman, it's proposing that states be taken out of the review of guest worker applications and to avoid cases where migrants stay illegally on long- term projects like ship-building, the Department of Labor is proposing the one-year H2b time frame be extended to three years.
Sharply criticizing that proposed rule House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller tells LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, quote, "the proposed changes increase the likelihood that U.S. workers will be displaced by guest workers and that their wages and working conditions will suffer as a result."
SCHIAVONE: Lou, former INS assistant commissioner Jan Ting says for all the Labor Department's efforts for Hispanic workers, legal and illegal, one of the great ironies is that people most adversely affected by competition from H2-B visas are recent legal immigrants -- Lou.
DOBBS: And the Labor Secretary didn't refer to that nor did she mention the fact that the four industries in which illegal aliens are working in this country, that is, leisure, hospitality, landscaping and construction. In all four industries over the past five years, wages have declined while the administration goes around blabbering, suggesting that more labor is needed in those industries.
Incredible. Thank you very much, Louise Schiavone.
An addendum to our story tonight, Secretary Elaine Chao finds herself in a unique position. She is now the only remaining member of the original Bush cabinet. And one other distinction worth noting, Chao is also the longest-serving labor secretary since the Second World War.
Labor secretary Chao also the subject of our poll tonight: Do you think Labor secretary Chao thinks she is working for Mexico, instead of the United States?
We'd like to hear from you. Yes or no? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later.
While Secretary Chao may want to bring more cheap labor into this country but in point of fact the United States already has at least ten guest worker programs. I know what you're thinking.
The president of the United States has been running around saying thinks like we need a guest worker program, apparently unaware that we already have ten of them. Well we can't account for that but there's a cap of 65,000 regular H-1B visas offered each year. And an additional 20,000 visas set aside for high-tech workers with advanced degrees. That brings the total of H-1B visas available to 85,000.
But the truth is the number of those visas is actually much higher. The H-1B program is meant to bring, quote, "the brightest and best foreign workers into this country." But only one in ten of those visas now goes to highly-skilled workers. According to the latest figures, 8 out of the top 10 companies applying for those visas are Indian companies in this country for the specific purpose of outsourcing.
The H-1B visa program is intended to be a temporary worker program, it is, however, anything but. The H-1Bs are issued on a three-year basis, they can be extended to six years and there is absolutely no government agency currently monitoring those workers, determining whether they left the United States at the expiration of their visas or not.
Up next here, former White House adviser, author Bruce Bartlett joins me. We'll be talking about the role of race in this presidential campaign and his new book.
And San Francisco's mayor taking a less than serious attitude about very serious charges against his outrageous sanctuary policies. We'll have that report and a great deal more.
We'll be right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Up next, what is the Bush administration hiding after Mexico released a man accused of murdering one of our border patrol agents? My guest, the Congressman who is demanding urgent answers.
DOBBS: San Francisco's sanctuary policy is under fire tonight. San Bernardino County is in fact threatening to sue the city of San Francisco for illegally and secretly dumping illegal crack dealers in San Bernardino County youth halls. San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom is dismissing the threat. He says it's all a waste of time.
Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: San Bernardino County supervisors are outraged that San Francisco sent juvenile illegal alien crack dealers to youth group homes in the county as part of San Francisco's efforts to shield them from possible deportation by federal authorities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This County was used as a dumping ground by the city of San Francisco.
WIAN: Eight Honduran juveniles convicted of dealing crack in San Francisco recently escaped from two different group homes in San Bernardino County. Seven remain at large.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: San Francisco had a not only a legal obligation but a moral obligation to notify us. They did not do that.
WIAN: Now the county is demanding San Francisco reveal the names of every single juvenile who has been transferred to San Bernardino, illegal or not. San Bernardino supervisors have authorized a lawsuit to recover any law enforcement costs. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom doesn't seem worried.
GAVIN NEWSOM, MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO, C.A.: I appreciate their concerns. I think there are better ways for to spend their time. I mean I'll take look at anything they have in writing.
WIAN: The scandal broke as Newsom announced plans to run for California governor last week. He has since agreed to stop shield juvenile drug dealers and other felons from immigration authorities.
NEWSOM: If it's appropriate, we're very good at apologizing in San Francisco.
WIAN: Details of San Francisco's amended illegal alien sanctuary policy are still being negotiated. Here's the view of one activist who supports expanded illegal alien rights.
ANGELA CHAN, ASIAN LAW CAUCUS: They sell drugs because they want to make money. That's it. They could sell anything. It doesn't matter to them. They're not tied to crack, they just need to make money.
WIAN: Another activist on behalf of illegal aliens, the director of the Central American Resource Center urged San Francisco to, quote, "slow down and not react to what she called a manufactured crisis." The "San Francisco Chronicle" also reported she said juvenile drug dealers should be protected because they're often victims of poverty, neglect and abuse -- Lou.
DOBBS: What do you say to that? This is utter madness perpetrated by Gavin Newsom who's one of the most pathetic -- don't you admire his sort of precious quality as he responds? He's not a very serious person and he is creating very serious problems.
WIAN: What's interesting is that he still remains hugely popular in the city of San Francisco. An opinion poll back in March showed he had a 67 percent approval rating in San Francisco, Lou.
DOBBS: Do we have anything more recent?
WIAN: We do not. It would be interesting to see.
DOBBS: Because all of this has unfolded obviously since then. I suspect that many people in San Francisco -- the stereotypical view of San Francisco is that they're quite flaky, irresponsible, et cetera. I think that caricature, that stereotype far from accurate.
WIAN: Absolutely, Lou.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Casey Wian.
There are new concerns that Mexico's drug cartels are training recruits in military tactics and sending them to the United States. Private security analysts in this country say the cartels are recruiting enforcers from military and police backgrounds. They are also believed to be training U.S. gang members.
An attack on a Phoenix home last month left one man dead. 100 rounds of ammunition were fired in the assault. The police say the assailants were wearing military style gear including body armor and helmets; their tactics obviously suggest military-police training.
And as we reported here last night, Phoenix police officials openly concerned that some Mexican drug cartel members are leaving Mexico and bringing with them the threat of more violence to this country.
We have an update to a story we've reported on extensively in this broadcast. The senate appropriations committee approved an amendment that bans Mexican trucks from crossing our border. That amendment necessary because of the Bush administration's Department of Transportation had simply dismissed the will of the Congress.
The amendment passed by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota sponsoring the amendment to end the program that allows Mexican trucks on our highways. Opponents of the program say the trucks and drivers from Mexico aren't held to the same safety standards as American truckers.
Let's take a look now at some of your thoughts.
Rick in Georgia said: "The public schools can't even teach Americans proper English. What makes Obama think they can teach anyone, much less everyone, Spanish?"
Hank in Florida said: "it's time to make English the official language of our country and to switch to the Independent party."
I think those are terrific ideas. We want to also point out, please go to our Website to learn more about making English the official language or go to usenglish.org for more on the issue. George in Iowa said: "Lou, I really enjoy your show. I think it's time to take this country away from the politicians and give it back to the people. Who are they kidding?"
Well, we'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.
Up next, political historian, author Bruce Bartlett. He joins us to offer more evidence the Democratic Party historically has been, quote, "Wrong on Race;" the title of his new book.
And does the Bush administration have something to hide? We'll be talking about the case of a border patrol agent murdered while trying to stop a drug smuggling ring and his murderer was released by the government of Mexico.
What's going on? We'll try to explain next.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, we continue our examination of the role of race in American presidential politics, identity and group politics. Common assumptions include, No. 1, Democrats are members of a party of civil rights. My next guest is Bruce Bartlett. He has written a provocative new book analyzing the historical connection between black Americans and the Democratic Party. The book is entitled "Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past." Mr. Bartlett, a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House, deputy assistant treasury secretary under George H.W. Bush.
Bruce, good so have you with us. This is likely to be a surprise to many people that there is not a direct connection between the Democratic Party and purity on the issue of race. Before I get to that, I want to talk to you about something else, in terms of economics, also one of your areas of expertise.
Phil Gramm, I mean, what in the world is he is talking about? A nation of whiners? And then recanting and meanwhile just throwing sludge all over John McCain with these ridiculous assertions today.
BRUCE BARTLETT, AUTHOR, "WRONG ON RACE": Well, especially since the bank he works for, UBS, is up to its neck in bad mortgage debt and was very much part of the problem.
DOBBS: And in desperate need of capital infusion, so.
BARTLETT: Yes, absolutely right. It's really kind of surprising, I think. I mean, it's obviously a huge political embarrassment for John McCain. But you would think that Phil Gramm, who was elected to the House and to the Senate many times, ran for president himself in 1988, would just have a little bit more smarts.
DOBBS: Well, yes, a lot more smarts in terms of handling the media and in politically supporting his candidate. But in economic terms, he was absolutely ignorant in what he said.
BARTLETT: Well, he was trying to make a technical point. A recession is two back to back negative...
DOBBS: Oh, for crying out loud, that's stuff that a third grader worries about, not a doctorate in economics. And Phil Gramm knows better. I mean, we're talking about millions of people hurting in this country. He's sitting there in a bank that is part of the biggest credit crisis in this country's history. And he's blathering about some sort of sophomoric definition of what a recession is?
Wouldn't you think he'd be smart enough to leave that to the National Economic Research Bureau?
BARTLETT: Well, the other thing is, what point was he trying to make? Even if what he said was true, what does it do to help John McCain?
DOBBS: Look, let's be honest. He's part of the dumb, just sordid, absolutely disgusting era of Republicanism built around supply side economics, you know, that they foisted upon the American people as a policy. It's pure ignorance. He's trying to maintain it. I don't understand why McCain doesn't fire him outright, do you?
BARTLETT: No. Well, McCain has, as you know, difficult relations with many wings different of the Republican Party, including...
DOBBS: You tell me which -- you know, when you look at these two candidates, Obama and McCain, they have got difficult relations with just about everybody.
BARTLETT: Well, Obama is doing a lot better job of herding the cats together. And as you know, McCain is self-professed not to know much of anything about economics. And he desperately needs...
DOBBS: And by the way -- and he seems to be demonstrating with great validity in his assertion.
BARTLETT: Well, at least in his choice of advisers.
DOBBS: Unbelievable. Well, let's turn to your book, "Wrong on Race." First of all, Senator -- well, Senator John F. Kennedy, and then President John F. Kennedy generally held up as a beacon in civil rights. Your book suggests that that's -- there's a somewhat surprising reality that differs.
BARTLETT: Well, that's true. When John F. Kennedy was a member of the United States Senate, he -- for example, when the civil rights bill of 1957 came up, he was among the people that voted to gut it. And he was always very close to the southern caucus and wanted the support of the southerners when he ran for president in 1960. And when he -- all during the campaign he said he was going issue executive orders and do all kinds of things in civil rights and have a civil rights bill. But as late as 1963, we know that he had never put forward a civil rights bill. The famous March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his famous speech, was for the purpose of pressuring the Kennedy administration to do something on civil rights because they hadn't done anything.
DOBBS: And truly, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that went into effect in 1965, truly was the craft and was (INAUDIBLE) by Lyndon Baines Johnson who had been an ardent civil rights advocate through his tenure.
BARTLETT: Not in Congress. I mean, he was very much part of the southern caucus. He voted against every civil rights measure that came up during the time he was...
DOBBS: No, no, no, he changed.
DOBBS: But in that administration, he was the voice...
BARTLETT: Oh yes, he clearly switched gears. The Democratic Party clearly switched gears and became the party of civil rights.
DOBBS: But here's something else you say in your book, "Wrong on Race," "Democrats have been effective cleansed of their racist past, their sins implicitly transferred to the Republicans." What do you mean by that?
BARTLETT: Well, I think that a lot of people kind of assume that because the Democratic Party because the pro-civil rights party in the 1960s, that somehow or other, it was always the party of civil rights. And it was not. It was the party of slavery and Jim Crow and segregation until the 1960s.
And then they now blame all of their own sins on the Republicans, which of course, was created for the purpose of ending slavery and had a...
DOBBS: But the Republicans also gave the Democratic Party that opportunity. And since 19 -- we'll use that point, from 1960 forward, the Republicans have, for whatever reason, resisted active competition for black votes in this country. Have been, frankly, laggards on the issues that are most important to many of those who have been disadvantaged through the 1960s.
BARTLETT: But part of it is that the Republicans don't want to take credit for the things that they actually did do.
DOBBS: Well, that because -- you mean -- wait a minute...
BARTLETT: Well, for example...
DOBBS: You're trying to tell me the Republican Party is just built of such noble and pure people that they didn't want to take credit for their largesse? BARTLETT: Well, one of the things that people should remember is that Richard Nixon did more to desegregate the schools in this country than any other president. Although Johnson talked -- passed a lot of legislation, he didn't do very much to actually change the policy. The schools were almost as segregated in 1969 as they were in 1954.
DOBBS: Well, the president who first stood up was Dwight David Eisenhower...
BARTLETT: That's true too.
DOBBS: ... in the 1950s.
BARTLETT: But also Nixon created the program of affirmative action.
DOBBS: Well, it is a fascinating book. And I recommend it highly. Bruce, great to have you with us.
BARTLETT: Thank you very much.
DOBBS: Bruce Bartlett, "Wrong on Race." A fascinating discussion, and sure to surprise in many ways.
Coming up next here, gasoline prices are soaring. And the government is doing a lot of discussion. What are they doing to help struggling Americans? We'll have that report for you.
And a story that you will only see on this broadcast, the Bush administration withholding information on the case of a Mexican drug dealer who is accused of killing one of our Border Patrol agents. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Well, this broadcast has been documenting for months now the empty talk in Washington, D.C., about rising energy prices, Congress holding hearing after hearing, taking absolutely no action, and no solutions being offered from Washington, D.C., at least.
Carrie Lee has our report.
CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congress has held over 40 hearings this year on skyrocketing oil and gas prices with no solutions. Some lawmakers admit to the ineffectiveness in Congress.
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: Everybody goes home, everybody buys gas, everybody knows it's high, and none of us in this place are going to do one doggone thing between now and the time that we leave here.
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: Don't you think if Congress had the magic wand and could lower the gas prices tomorrow, we would have done it? LEE: Republicans are pushing for more drilling.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: The reason the oil companies can't proceed is that they have been stopped by road blocks by radical environmentalist groups that won't let them drill.
LEE: Democrats are stuck on conservation and tax breaks for alternative fuel.
PAUL BLEDSOE, NATL. COMMISSION ON ENERGY POLICY: None of those things are going to matter very much in the short run. We need a long range innovative policy, whether it can get done under a lame duck president who has threatened to veto climate legislation is a big question.
LEE: The National Commission on Energy Policy proposed a bipartisan long-term energy strategy to Congress three-and-a-half years ago, when oil was trading in the low 40s. Ironically, 10 senators from both parties are now calling for energy experts to come up with a plan.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: There's enough flag-waving, enough rhetorical spin from both parties. And we really want to look at something that can pass, that can get the price of oil down, and close our energy gap here in the United States.
LEE: The group has called for a day-long meeting shortly after the July 4th holiday. But that hasn't happened either. What is happening, prices keep rising. Oil is up 48 percent, gas is up 34 percent this year. And American voters are suffering.
LEE: A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll finds 77 percent of respondents now feel gas prices are extremely or very important to their vote.
Well, Lou, lawmakers say they're listening, we know they're debating, as we just saw, but they're not doing much beyond that. And you know, at this point, there's no argument that hasn't been heard and hashed and rehashed already, so.
DOBBS: Well, I get kind of a kick out of that poll that you just quoted, 77 percent say it's important to their vote. If that's the case, they won't be voting for either Obama or McCain, they're been part of the problem.
LEE: Exactly, four months away.
DOBBS: Boone Pickens is the only guy I've heard say point-blank, here's an approach that would work. And I think he's at least partly right. And he has begun at least a very important conversation. But the fact that it has to come from Boone Pickens, I've known him for a long time, smart fellow, but sort of tells you about what's going on in Washington, D.C. LEE: Right.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Carrie. Carrie Lee.
An astounding number of lobbyists are trying to influence the decisions made by federal agencies, officials, and lawmakers. You heard it here first!. As we reported, there are more than 41,000 registered lobbyists now in Washington, D.C. That works out to 77 lobbyists for each and every member of Congress.
The amount of money the lobbyists are spending to buy influence in Washington has doubled, by the way, over the past decade. In 1998, corporations, unions, special interest groups spending almost $1.5 billion lobbying Congress and federal agencies. As of last year, those special interests spending almost $3 billion trying to influence this country's decision-makers. And by the way, they're getting their money's worth.
The biggest spender when it comes buying influence, who else but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Over the past decade, the chamber has spent almost $400 million lobbying. That's more than twice the nearest competitor, the American Medical Association. As a whole, the health care industry spent about half a billion dollars over the decade.
A reminded now to vote in our poll. Do you believe Labor Secretary Elaine Chao believes she is working for Mexico instead of the United States? Yes or no. Let us hear from you. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results for you upcoming.
A House subcommittee today heard testimony on the Air Force's refueling tanker contract. The hearing comes after the Pentagon's announcement yesterday that the Air Force will have to re-bid the contract. Thanks to Secretary Robert Gates, the Air Force had awarded that contract to the outfit that builds the Airbus jetliner. Officials reopened bidding after the Government Accountability Office report found the Air Force procedures were, at best, flawed.
And lawmakers today saying the Air Force neglected or ignored serious issues with the European consortium, in fact -- including the fact, of course, that the consortium subsidizes the Airbus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: And the idea that we have allowed into this competition a company which is subsidized, in fact, in which the U.S. government is -- believes in fact, is unfairly subsidized by the treasury of the nations which comprise the aircraft company, and yet, that's not considered in this competition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: You know, we're going be talking with the editor who selected that particular piece of sound. Congressman Hunter today suggested Congress should have a role and be allowed to weigh in on setting the parameters for the competition to choose the manufacturer of that new aircraft.
Still ahead, Congressman Brian Bilbray joins us. He's demanding answers from the White House after Mexico released the suspected killer of one of our Border Patrol agents.
And General David Grange joins us on Iran's rising threat to our troops. Stay with us, we're coming right back.
DOBBS: Well, a lot of Americans tonight want to know why a Mexican judge released the number one suspect in the killing of one of our Border Patrol agents, and Americans want to know what the heck U.S. government is going to do about it. Border Patrol agent Luis Aguilar was brutally run over and killed back in January trying to stop suspected drug smugglers from fleeing back in Mexico.
Mexican police later arrested the suspect on an unrelated charge and then he was released last month. Mexican officials say the United States didn't even attempt to extradite him. Congressman Brian Bilbray, like many of us, is simply outraged at the release, and he is leading the fight to get some answers. He joins us tonight from Washington.
Congressman, good to have you with us.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA: Nice to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: You know, I think this is one of the sorriest episodes in this country's history when it comes to border enforcement. But this may -- I mean, we've got two border patrol agents sitting in prison. We have a government that can't even come to terms with how to deal with a suspected killer, and didn't apparently act to get him extradited. What is going on here?
BILBRAY: And we're talking about a federal officer performing his sworn duty being killed by a criminal. And for this not to be the top priority, to bring this guy to justice here in the United States, just really raises concerns. And that's why there are 39 of us have asked the president for the answers of how did this happen? Who let it fall through the cracks? And who is to blame? We want to make sure this doesn't happen again.
DOBBS: In your letter to the White House and to the attorney general, Michael Mukasey, you say the following: "Has the U.S. government issue an arrest warrant? Has the U.S. government contacted Mexican authorities regarding extradition either formally or informally? If the U.S. Department of Justice failed to contact Mexican authorities, who was responsible for that failure?"
DOBBS: Now, I'm going to just take a wild guess. I'll take a wild guess and say no one in this administration has responded to you.
BILBRAY: They haven't. I've have even made -- you know, had conversations with the White House that says we'll try to find out. Well, frankly, you know, Lou, there's a lot of things the federal government is involved with that the Constitution doesn't give us that job. There's a lot of things we stick our nose into that's none of our business.
But border control, law enforcement, and fighting criminals, and immigration, and drug fights, those are our constitutional responsibilities. These are the minimums that we ought to be doing that are not being done. And maybe if we spent less time doing the things that are not our business and concentrate on getting the job done like protecting our borders and protecting our neighborhoods, everybody would be a lot better off.
But this one is one of those outrageous -- that there's a dead officer, serving his country, serving his constitutional responsibility, and nobody is asking the right questions or at least going through the paperwork to make sure the bad guy doesn't get released.
DOBBS: Well, we talked with the Mexican government. And in a statement, obtained by LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, the Mexican government's U.S. spokesman, Ricardo Alday, told us: "The United States, to this date, has not presented to Mexican authorities either a provisional order of arrest for Mr. Navarro Montes, nor a formal extradition request."
BILBRAY: That's why our letter is saying, is this true? And if it is, who didn't get the job done? Who allowed this? And what's being done to make sure it is corrected?
DOBBS: I mean, can you tell me, Congressman, why should any man or woman serving in the United States Border Patrol believe for one second that their leader, David Aguilar, their next level of leader, the secretary -- the Department of Homeland Security, and their president, why should they have any faith in them? Why should they risk their lives with this kind of support coming from their leadership while two of their former colleagues have been railroaded into prison?
They've been there for a year-and-a-half, they're still waiting a decision by an appellate court. I mean, what in the world is the message here to our men and women serving this nation, protecting our borders?
BILBRAY: In fact, I think the message to all of us is that the chain of command doesn't stop with the president. It ends with us, as the electorate, the people. And what are we doing -- not only what the administration, but what are we doing about the fact that they're not being supported in their efforts?
They're giving their all to defend us. And we're standing by and watching them being prosecuted and persecuted, and we allow those who commit crimes and attack them to not only be allowed off, but to be allowed to be rewarded.
I mean, you've got men and women -- you've got two gentlemen that are prison today and being sued by the smuggler who actually...
DOBBS: The illegal alien drug smuggler.
BILBRAY: Absolutely. And that's how absurd the system is going on. And it's a miracle that we're able to get men and women willing to stand in harm's way and protect us along border.
DOBBS: I'll tell you what, to me, the miracle is? That the folks in Washington, D.C. can sleep at night, I mean, you've got colleagues in that House of Representatives, in that U.S. Senate, and certainly in that White House, I have to say, they have to be men and women of absolutely no principle whatsoever to permit this kind of travesty to occur.
And I want to commend you for trying to make it right.
BILBRAY: Thank you very much.
DOBBS: Congressman Brian Bilbray.
BILBRAY: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, coming up at the top of the hour, "THE ELECTION CENTER" and Campbell Brown.
Campbell, tell us all about it.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks, Lou.
Tonight on "THE ELECTION CENTER," Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson, the story that you haven't heard. We're going to ask if a new group of black leaders is making the old civil rights generation irrelevant.
Also, former Senator Phil Gramm says America is whining about the economy. And he is John McCain's top economic adviser. So what does that do for the candidate?
Plus more of Robin Meade's exclusive interview with the three Americans held captive in Colombia. Their stories are pretty amazing, Lou. We're going to hear from them as well. Have it all coming up at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Look forward to it, Campbell, thank you.
Up next, Iran's rising threat to this country and our troops. One of this country's most decorated former commanders, General David Grange, joins me. Stay with us, we're coming right back.
DOBBS: Tonight, taking an increasingly aggressive stance against the United States, Iran providing sophisticated weaponry to insurgents in Iraq. They're also conducting a series of new missile tests. Joining me now, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT military analyst, General David Grange.
General, good to have you with us. What's the deal with Iran and what are we going to do? GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, there's a lot of posturing going on, Lou, but there's also a serious threat. I had dinner the other night with a soldier that was wounded by an EFP, and explosively-formed projectile, supplied by Iran.
And I -- frankly, it pisses you off when you see that. And...
GRANGE: Yes, something I think has to be done. I think some things are being done that we don't know about openly. And that's a good thing. I think that the stance Israel has taken that we ought to take is appropriate.
DOBBS: I've got say, General, I know that a lot of people join me on this, I sure hope you're right about something is being done, because any country that is helping to wound or kill our troops, we have a very special place for those countries and those leaders and they should be there.
GRANGE: No, I agree. And I think that the more we can draw a line in the sand, whether it be for the Straits of Hormuz or whether it be for their ability to move missiles around, to fire on our troops or our allies in the region, their conduct of supplying insurgents improvised devices that give an asymmetric advantage to our foe, something should be done about it.
DOBBS: Well, General James Dubik, a top general in Iraq, as you know, says Iraqi security forces are becoming more effective, more capable of handling the security their. Are you as optimistic?
GRANGE: I am optimistic. I know that they have improved considerably. And here's one thing to keep in mind though. Once they get that check mark that they're at a certain level of proficiency, it's a one-time mark. I mean, it doesn't last forever. Just like our military. We have units that are not combat ready right now that have returned from combat.
And so this is a constant thing of evaluation and must be done. And consequently, yes, we'll have a drawdown, but we'll always have some troops there to continue to help train and advise and provide certain capabilities that the Iraqi army doesn't have.
DOBBS: General David Grange, as always, good to have you with us. Appreciate it.
GRANGE: My pleasure. Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Tonight's poll results, 97 percent of you say Labor Secretary Elaine Chao apparently thinks she works for Mexico instead of the United States.
Let's take a look now at some of Your Thoughts." Jeffrey in South Carolina said: "As a chef, I've told my suppliers that I will not buy produce from Mexico or products from companies that don't practice proper food safety and sanitation. But I still catch produce being re-boxed from its original packaging on a weekly basis. Maybe the special in the cafeteria of the White House and Congress should be a spinach salad with jalapeno and tomato vinaigrette with some ground beef on top in order for us to get enforced regulation for our farms and our fields."
Wanda in Michigan said: "Almost every item I pick up in major and minor stores in the mall says 'made in China.' I'm sick of these foreign countries taking jobs from Americans. There is no such thing as free trade."
Mary in California: "Lou, I've just changed my longstanding Democrat status to independent. The more I watched your show, your logic and good sense made me rethink my status." And we appreciate it and we welcome you.
Robert in California: "Keep up the great work. I was led to believe that you were a radical liberal, it seems to me you are a radical American." Well, I appreciate that.
And Chris in California: "Lou, as a native San Franciscan, I want to reassure you there are strong independent voices here that resonate your sentiment on the issue of sanctuary cities. Our young mayor continues to be influenced by the liberal elites in our beautiful city, not all San Franciscans are drinking the Newsom Kool-Aid. Keep up the good work, Lou." Well, thank you.
We love hearing from you, send us "Your Thoughts" at loudobbs.com.
And a reminder to please join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "THE LOU DOBBS SHOW." My guests tomorrow include Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri, Governor Blunt just signing tough legislation cracking down on illegal immigration. And go to loudobbsradio.com to get your local listings for "THE LOU DOBBS SHOW" on the radio.
Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow, for all of us here, thank you for watching and good night from New York. "THE ELECTION CENTER WITH CAMPBELL BROWN" begins right now -- Campbell.
BROWN: Thanks, Lou.