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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Grand Jury Indicts Senator Ted Stevens; Polls Show Obama is Failing to Surge Ahead; Negotiations over Opening new Global Markets at the WTO Collapse; Americans Struggle with Massive Credit Card Debt

Aired July 29, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight one of the nation's most powerful lawmakers, Senator Ted Stevens has been indicted after a corruption investigation. We'll have complete coverage.

And tonight, new protests over the refusal of a federal appellate court to throw out the most serious charges against former border patrol agents Ramos and Compean. Three congressmen who want President Bush to commute those sentences join me.

And tonight, new evidence that the Bush administration is willing to sell out American workers to save its so-called free trade agenda. We'll have 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 Tuesday, July 29th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

A federal grand jury today indicted Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator in history. The indictment accuses Stevens of concealing gifts worth more than a quarter million dollars, the 84-year-old senator is a former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and he's well known for his ability to steer federal funds to his home state. Tonight Senator Stevens declared that he's not guilty of those charges.

Kelli Arena has our report.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new first floor, a garage, a wrap around deck, all for his vacation home in Alaska. More than $250,000 worth of gifts for an influential senator that were allegedly never disclosed. Senator Ted Stevens was indicted by a federal grand jury for not reporting those gifts as is required by law.

MATTHEW FRIEDRICH, ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: These items were not disclosed on Senator Stevens' financial disclosure forms, which he filed under penalties of perjury.

ARENA: Prosecutors say the undisclosed gifts were given to Stevens over a seven-year period by an oil services company, VECO and its CEO, Bill Allen who pleaded guilty last year to bribery. The indictment says when the senator was receiving those gifts. VECO employees were soliciting him for quote, "multiple official actions" including funding for projects in Pakistan and Russia. But the government stopped short of charging Stevens with taking bribes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The indictment does not allege a quid pro quo.

ARENA: Stevens has been under investigation for more than a year as part of a larger probe into public corruption in Alaska in which seven people have already been convicted. His home was searched last summer by the FBI and the IRS. In a radio interview at the time, he insisted he paid for his home's elaborate renovation himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every bill that was presented to us has been paid, personally with our own money.

ARENA: Stevens, one of the most powerful men in the Senate, is expected to turn himself in.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It is a sad day for him, us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope that this will turn out fairly and consistent with law, and good decision.

ARENA: The fact that Stevens is 84 years old could play a role in any plea agreement or possible sentencing.


ARENA: Senator Stevens did release a written statement, he says he never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form. He says he's innocent and that he intends to prove it -- Lou?

DOBBS: Kelli, thank you very much.

Kelli Arena from Washington.

Well Senator Stevens of course is no stranger to controversy. He's famous for wearing an incredible hulk tie when he is preparing for a political fight in the Senate. One of those fights came two years ago after the senator described the Internet as a series of tubes that could be clogged with too much information.

Perhaps his biggest fight came when Stevens demanded more than $450 million in federal spending for two bridges in Alaska including the so-called bridge to nowhere. Senator Stevens remains very popular in Alaska, the state's governor even declared Stevens' 80th birthday in 2003 to be a state holiday, "Senator Ted Stevens Appreciation Day".

Well turning now to presidential politics, Senator Obama's much publicized overseas trip has failed to give him the bounce in the polls that his campaign had been hoping for, despite the efforts of the network news anchors who accompanied him. In point of fact, a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows Senator McCain is now leading Obama among likely voters, that poll showing McCain ahead of Obama by four percent, 49-55 percent. Senator McCain reversing what had been a five-point Obama lead in that poll.

Among registered voters, however, Obama's lead remains, but it has narrowed and sharply to just three percent. That is within the margin of error; Obama with 47 percent; McCain 44 percent. These poll results indicate the presidential race is much closer than most of the liberal media elites and many political pundits would like to either believe or certainly suggest.

Independent voters focusing on whether Senator Obama, rather than Senator McCain, has the qualities to be president are at the center of some of the shift.

Bill Schneider has our report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): With an unpopular president and a bad economy, this election is not supposed to be close. Asked whether they would rather see a Democrat or a Republican elected president, voters said they prefer a Democrat by 12 points.

But in CNN's latest Poll of Polls, Barack Obama is only five points ahead of John McCain. So far the election looks more like a referendum on Obama than on President Bush. Many voters don't know much about Obama. McCain is trying to fill in the blanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: He voted against funding our troops.

SCHNEIDER: His campaign spent about $3 million running this ad in key battleground states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, POLITICAL AD: Some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America, no to independence from foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?

SCHNEIDER: Those ads are keeping the race close.

EVAN TRACEY, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GROUP: Negative ads make undecided voters just that more undecided. So what it can do is have a way of at least freezing the race in place.

SCHNEIDER: This week, the Obama campaign is responding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: John McCain is blaming Barack Obama for gas prices, the same old politics.

SCHNEIDER: Obama is trying to avoid falling into McCain's trap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the McCain campaign would like nothing more than to get the Obama campaign in a back and forth with negative ads that sort of carries through the fall. This obviously works against Senator Obama's caricature of being a new kind of politician.

SCHNEIDER: McCain's negative strategy is keeping the focus on Obama, by nearly 2-1, voters say they're paying more attention to what kind of president Obama would be than what kind of president McCain would be.


SCHNEIDER: One person has not been getting much attention so far in the campaign, President Bush. But you can bet he is not going to be forgotten at the Democratic Convention when it starts next month -- Lou?

DOBBS: Well this has got to be disconcerting because there is implicit, I'm not certain that it was intended, that Bush should be the referendum here, rather than Senator Obama. And it seems as though there is some frustration that the focus is precisely where it belongs that is on the two candidates seeking the presidency.

SCHNEIDER: Well, usually in an election it's also a referendum on the status quo. Do people want to continue the status quo or do they want change? Now that referendum we saw in that earlier poll, people clearly want a Democratic president. But they're not sure they want Obama. It has a very unusual election for that reason.

DOBBS: Well let's -- if we may, let's consider that a bit farther. We know there is going to be change because neither of these candidates will be in any way attached to the -- Bush's Oval Office. So it is definitely going to be changed, so isn't this about what kind of change?

SCHNEIDER: Exactly what it is about. Will McCain be able to present himself as a candidate who presents enough change to satisfy voters that he'll go out on a different path from President Bush? Or do they want a lot more change which would -- is what Barack Obama is talking about? That's the big issue right now.

DOBBS: And I'm a little -- I'm perhaps a little perplexed by the issue of negative -- negativity here in the McCain poll, although I take the point. The fact is it is Obama along with Pelosi and with Reid, leading the Senate and the House, who are against offshore drilling. It is John McCain who earliest called for offshore drilling to be permitted. Is that not correct?

SCHNEIDER: That is correct on the issue of drilling, yes. But in the ad, he says who is responsible for high gas prices? Obama. Now that is a pretty sensational charge.

DOBBS: Yes, but then again, we have to consider what else happened in the markets and that is precisely as most of the experts had suggested, once the executive ban on oil drilling offshore had been lifted, we have seen a huge decline of approximately 13 percent decline in the price of crude oil and gasoline prices actually begin to roll back over the course of 11 days, which is remarkable, isn't it? SCHNEIDER: It is certainly remarkable. And the vast majority of Americans do support offshore oil drilling. They support anything, anything that will give them relief from high gas prices.

DOBBS: So perhaps here we might come to the conclusion that negativity would be actions that would keep oil prices high and gasoline prices high.

SCHNEIDER: Well, that's -- I'll have to think about that.

DOBBS: All right. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Schneider, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Let's examine the questions and have a poll. And here is the question: Are you surprised the polls show such a close race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain?

Yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later.

Senator Obama and the Democratic National Committee tonight preparing to spend $20 million to pander to ethnocentric special interest groups and vigorously so. Senator Obama has already told the illegal alien open borders crowd he will ram amnesty down the throats of the American people. And Obama plans to mobilize Latino voters in key states such as -- red (ph) swing states, such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida.

Now the latest poll showed two-thirds of registered Latino voters support Senator Obama compared to just over a fifth who support McCain. One has to wonder what the margin will expand to with an additional $20 million. Well Senator McCain today stepped up his criticism of Senator Obama's policies on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

McCain saying Senator Obama does not understand that his policies would actually make this country's problems far more difficult to solve. Senator McCain said the United States will soon have a new strategy for victory in Afghanistan based on the success of the surge strategy in Iraq and separately the McCain campaign just moments ago saying tests show there is no evidence of skin cancer on the removal of that sample from Senator McCain's face.

Well more than twice as many of our troops have been killed in Afghanistan this month as in Iraq. One more of our troops has been killed in Afghanistan in what the military calls a non-combat incident. Twenty of our troops have been killed so far this month in Afghanistan compared with nine in Iraq. Four hundred seventy-eight of our troops killed in Afghanistan since the war began; 22,290 of our troops have been wounded there; 1,438 of them seriously.

Up next, you won't believe what the Bush administration is doing to promote its so-called free trade agenda at the expense of working men and women and their families. Well, yes you will. I guarantee you will believe it.

And lobbyists and special interest groups are winning their fight to block legislation to protect our middle class Americans from predatory lenders. We'll have that report and a great deal more, all the day's news still ahead. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well negotiations at the World Trade Organization over opening new global markets is the way they put it have collapsed. That should be good news for each and every American citizen, especially our workers. Those talks stalled just as the United States appeared to be about to cave in to the demands from of all places India, demands that would have allowed Indian workers to circumvent U.S. H-1B guest worker visa programs.

Bill Tucker has our story.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was not a dispute over visas that stalled this latest round as India had threatened, but an impasse over agricultural issues.


TUCKER: The fact that American negotiators won't disclose what was offered in the way of new guest worker visas has some observers outraged.

PROF. RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: I think it is pretty clear that this is all done under the cover of night. This is clearly immigration policy being made and, you know, I think it should scare all of us in a democracy that we don't even know what is being offered what is being bargained away.

TUCKER: The United States Trade Representatives Office has refused to comment on what that offer might have been. What it is feared is that this latest round of trade talks within the World Trade Organization, known as the Doha round is fundamentally changing the nature of what is negotiated at the trade table.

In return for access to foreign markets, negotiators are bargaining jobs. One critic whose group favors tightly controlled immigration says we should be wary of what is being done in the name of free trade.

JESSICA VAUGHAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: What they're calling trade is really access to the job market. They're not looking to come in and provide a service for a brief period of time. They're looking for permanent access and the ability to bring in people for years at a time, to perform work that was formally being done by U.S. workers.

TUCKER: The collapse of this round of talks does not mean American workers can or should sleep easy.


TUCKER: Now these talks could resume as early as this fall, though it is more likely they won't resume until after we elect a new president. And when they do the issue of visas for foreign workers, Lou, will still be on that table and just tonight before we came up, before the show started, U.S. Trade Representative Schwab said all offers remain active and on the table.

DOBBS: Well certainly this administration with what about six months left here, I mean the amount of damage they could do is -- well just almost unlimited. What they have done has been disgusting and disgraceful and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if things would be on the table...

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: ... especially the rights of American workers, the ability of corporations, and particularly of course Indian corporations to bring in more Indian workers in the United States to outsource American jobs to. I mean, the national news media, right now, doesn't have a clue what it means when we say the Doha round as part of the World Trade Organization talks.

They don't even know what we're talking about. They haven't got an interest in fighting back for the rights of working men and women in this country. It is unbelievable.

TUCKER: It is alarming, Lou, and I don't think that they understand. Jobs are being offered. This is not trade talks as you and I and everyone understands trade talks to be, my products for your products. This is you let my products in, we'll let your workers in, and we'll let your workers take our jobs. That's the equation now.

DOBBS: It is the equation. It has been the equation. It has been the -- actually the basis for the entire Bush administration so- called free trade initiatives, across the board. They're outsourcing agreements.

There should be no, absolutely no doubt about it. And as you say, in this round, we're talking about legitimizing the flow of cheap labor into the United States for an -- unlimited amount of time at this juncture. But what I would like everyone to focus on is one part of what you reported, if nothing else, just one part.

We don't know, as American citizens, what our government was negotiating in the World Trade Organization, which puts the World Trade Organization as a supreme and sovereign entity over that of the United States and what we used to call a democracy. And that, that to me, is a crime, a crime against our people, and a crime against our nation. Bill, thank you very much. Bill Tucker.

Well new developments tonight in the push for a North American Union. The architect of the so-called security and prosperity partnership of North America now concedes that the April summit meeting held among President Bush, Mexican President Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Harper was in his words quote, "probably the last hooray for the SPP, the Security and Prosperity Partnership."

American University Professor Robert Pastor in this article blames me for the failure amongst others -- the failure of the North American Union. In his article, in the latest edition of "Foreign Affairs Magazine", Pastor writes quote, "fears about the Security and Prosperity Partnership came together in a perfect storm that was pushed forward by a surplus of hot air from talk show hosts on radio and television."

He went on to say "North America's different voices are audible. One is the strident and angry voice, personified by Lou Dobbs, which argues that Mexicans have little in common with Americans, that free trade hurts workers and the economy."

Well, you know, again, and point of fact, I have clearly and for years stated that American workers deserve fair trade and deserve an administration that supports their security and prosperity and beginning with our borders and our ports as a matter of national security, working in the common good for all American citizens. That seems to be a concept that Robert Pastor, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the host of other elites who have been meeting in secret for three years to advance its agenda don't quite comprehend.

Well Congress is finally taking action to protect our children from unsafe chemicals and toys. But President Bush hasn't yet decided whether that's a good idea. The legislation would require thorough testing to ensure toys are not contaminated with lead or harmful chemicals. The House Senate compromise would end a costly industry battle led by ExxonMobil to kill the legislation's restrictions on phthalates, a $1.4 billion business in this country.

President Bush has rejected the ban on the chemicals and has not yet decided whether he will veto the bill. The White House saying there is quote, "a lack of evidence that phthalates are harmful. Even if President Bush does go ahead and sign the bill, it wouldn't become law for at least another six months and that would be long after the Christmas toy buying season, of course. George Bush will be in office for about another six months.

Up next, a federal court refuses to overturn the convictions of two former border patrol agents, the details of the judge's decision raising serious questions tonight about why these two men remain behind bars.

And Congress backing down from a confrontation with the American banking industry over predatory lending practices as millions of middle class Americans are struggling with overwhelming credit card debt. We'll have that story and a great deal more.

Take a deep breath. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Coming up, Senator Obama, he's a citizen of the world he declares, fails to lift his poll numbers with his much ballyhooed overseas tour with the liberal media in tow. I'll be talking about that and a lot more with three of my favorite radio talk show hosts. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: We report extensively here about predatory lending practices, but as middle class Americans struggle with massive credit card debt, Congress is doing very little to help them despite promises from 2006.

And as Kitty Pilgrim now reports Congress appears unwilling to even begin to think about taking on the banking industry.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Americans are dependent on credit cards. Three-quarters of all families have at least one credit card and 61 percent of families have at least $13,000 of credit card debt. But the first legislation ever to defend borrowers from predatory practices is in danger of being killed. Leadership in the House Financial Services Committee has not been able to get it out of committee. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who introduced the bill, says there are 22 co-sponsors including two Republicans.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: It's going to be a difficult hurdle in the committee because of the financial industry is very much opposed. You always need to vote. And the financial services industry is very, very powerful.

PILGRIM: The American Bankers Association and other financial organizations along with the Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to Congress, pressuring them not to pass the legislation, saying the undersigned organizations urge you to oppose H.R. 5244. They say it would restrict lending in an already tightened credit market. But industry watchers say the consumer would benefit from the regulation.

ROBERT MANNING, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECH.: For the average American, the congressional Bill of Rights would be one little bright spot in terms of weathering this very difficult financial storm. Clearly Congress does not have the political fortitude to take on the financial service industry right now. So Congress clearly is going to drop the ball in terms of improving consumer rights on credit cards.

PILGRIM: The bill would give Congress more oversight over the industry. It would protect consumers from misleading terms, give them more information about their accounts and would require 45 day notice of any interest rate increases. It would also allow cardholders to set limits on their credit.


PILGRIM: Now the Federal Reserve also has proposed rules for credit cards and some say the only real hope for consumers is that the Federal Reserve puts through more regulation on the credit card industry -- Lou.

DOBBS: This is a Democratically led Congress, Barney Frank is the head of the House Financial Institutions, Congresswoman Maloney has got a strong background in consumer protection and what the audience of this broadcast has just witnessed is the Democratic leadership, Barney Frank throwing up their hands and saying that they cannot regulate an industry that has put Americans, 2.5 million Americans, on their backs in foreclosure right now, in addition to overwhelming them with debt and specifically predatory lending practices in many cases.

PILGRIM: It is a disaster because...

DOBBS: So what we don't have is a government capable of protecting the American people.

PILGRIM: It doesn't seem to be political will to get this through. And American consumers will...

DOBBS: Political will hell, there is not enough integrity on Capitol Hill to stand up for the American people and it doesn't matter whether there is a D or R after your name. That is absolutely reprehensible.

PILGRIM: Yes. There are two Republicans who support this out of the 22 who support it, so you're not getting support from either side, really, enough to get it...

DOBBS: I think that's why I said a little D and a little R. Do they make big R's, big D's? I hope not. It is unbelievable. I mean the American -- if the American people haven't had a belly full at this point, I mean, I can't even imagine what is going to be required for there to be a reaction. And to watch this presidential, so-called campaign, take place between these two, unbelievable.

Thank you very much, Kitty -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Well time now for some of your thoughts.

Sandra in Pennsylvania said: "Is it me or is Senator Obama acting as if have already elected him president? If this happened and I just missed it, why are we wasting millions of dollars on the elections? I can think of many problems the money could be used to fix."

Well, no, they just probably don't think the one that comes up on November 4th will matter much, so they're just sort of moving ahead. That's just a guess on my part.

Carlene in Ohio: "I can't believe the Ramos and Compean trial and court decisions happened in the USA. They should be pardoned now!"

Yes and so should the judges and the justices, the prosecutors, they're the ones who really deserve in my opinion a pardon.

Bill in Washington: "Lou, we do not have any crisis in our country except for a leadership crisis. Our elected officials are incompetent and self-serving. Thank you for all you do on your program."

Well, we do have that, that issue of leadership. We also have one that's more fundamentality than that. We, the people, are not being represented by those we have elected to represent us in Washington, D.C. We'll have more of your thoughts later in the broadcast.

Up next, a new effort to stop the Senate from passing bills in secret and without debate. Did I mention that most of the legislation is never read and they just simply move it through and don't actually know what they're voting on? Your senators, your congressmen. But only about 5 percent of it gets an actual vote. Does that make you feel better? It doesn't help me either.

A major legal setback for imprisoned former border patrol agents, Ramos and Compean, we'll have that story and a great deal more. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Former border patrol agents Ramos and Compean remain behind bars tonight after an appellate court yesterday refused to throw out the most serious charges against them. The appellate court, however, did reverse their convictions on obstruction of justice.

And as Casey Wian now reports that raises serious new questions about why the two men remain in prison at all.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Texas U.S. attorney Johnny Sutton who oversaw the prosecution of former border patrol agents Ramos and Compean testified before a hostile Senate committee last year. He said if the agents had not covered up the shooting of Mexican national Osvaldo Aldrete-Davala, an illegal alien drug smuggler, Ramos and Compean would probably not have received 11 and 12-year federal prison sentences.

JOHNNY SUTTON, U.S. ATTORNEY, WESTERN DIST. TEXAS: The reason all of this mess happened is because agent Compean and Ramos shot an unarmed guy running away and covered it up. If they hadn't done that, they would still be out on the line, doing their job. And even if they told us and it was a bad shoot, we don't know where they would be. They probably would still be OK.

WIAN: Monday, the 5th circuit court of appeals threw out the convicts for tampering with a official proceeding. It ruled that a border patrol internal investigation of alleged employee misconduct is not an official proceeding. But it upheld the convictions for using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, which carries a ten- year mandatory minimum sentence.

Some lawmakers say Congress never intended the gun charge to be used to prosecute law enforcement officers performing their official duties. REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: This case was so obviously a miscarriage of justice that it shakes -- that it can shake people's faith in our system.

WIAN: The agents remain in prison even though two of three appellate judges criticize the government's prosecution of the case during a hearing in December. The men's labor union says it is disappointed by the court's decision.

T.J. BONNER, PRES. NATL. BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: To have such a dramatic reversal in this decision where they buy into Johnny Sutton's argument that it was heard before a jury and they had a fair trial, and therefore it stands, it is just very perplexing.

WIAN: Attorneys for Ramos and Compean plan to ask for a rehearing by the three appellate judges, and a so-called enbunk (ph) review by all 21 fifth circuit judges.


WIAN: Ramos' attorney David Botsford tells LOU DOBBS TONIGHT he plans to file a motion for a new trial because prosecutors instructed jurors to give priority to the obstruction of justice charges, which have now been thrown out. If those appeals fail, attorneys can then appeal to the Supreme Court. Members of Congress, meanwhile, are continuing to push for President Bush to simply pardon the agents or commute their sentences -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, the families of these two former agents, I mean, this has got to be as dispiriting as tragic for the families, but the entire U.S. border patrol, law enforcement officers serving this nation, this is really one of the ugliest things that I've ever seen happen.

WIAN: The fact these agents were prosecuted and received ten- year federal prison sentences for a crime -- for a charge that was only supposed to cover drug smugglers and other violent criminals, not law enforcement officers, performing the course of their duties is really dispiriting to the entire law enforcement community, especially those who work among along the border where it's increasingly violent. They're increasingly under threat from well armed Mexican drug smugglers and illegal alien smugglers. It is an absolute travesty in their view, Lou.

DOBBS: The appellate court in my opinion, I can say this without any reservation whatsoever, these three justices, really, these judges, these appellate judges, they -- justice is no part of what they did. Did they even refer to the fact that that court upheld the evidence being sealed against these two dependents and this prosecutor and that trial judge at the same time did not let anyone know that the witness who had been given immunity by the prosecutor was at he the very moment testifying against these two law enforcement officers who was committing other crimes as well?

WIAN: Their 45 page ruling did address those issues and basically they dismissed them, Lou. They said that it really wouldn't have mattered if the drug smugglers' criminal history had been introduced as evidence in front of the jury. They said even if it didn't matter, it might have turned the case into a referendum on the witness, the drug smuggler and not the actions of the border patrol agents. That's why they dismissed that as a legitimate grounds for the agents to appeal the convictions, Lou.

DOBBS: Just unbelievable. And it's seven months to get to this point, you wonder what in the world we can call it a judiciary system, but we sure can't call it a justice system. I appreciate it, at least not accurately.

Casey Wian, thank you very much.

Well, a rising number of congressmen tonight are calling upon the president to commute the sentences of Ramos and Compean, three of them join me tonight from Capitol Hill, Congressmen Ted Poe of Texas, Congressman John Culberson also of Texas, Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina.

Gentlemen, good to have you with us. I just -- I'll just say it. I'm heart sick at this. I know the families are. I know you are. Every American who cares about even the meaning of justice to watch this process, I mean what are we left with in this country when this is the result?

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: The justice system did not work in this case. These appellate judges, just seven months ago on December 3rd, two of them raked the U.S. attorney's office over the coals for prosecuting this case. They had a change of heart and they upheld the conviction and it is very unfortunate because justice, as you said, has not been served in this case at all.

REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: This case illustrates, encapsulates in fact Lou, all of the problems with our border security. There is an obsession by this administration to pander to Mexico. These agents were prosecuted to make an example of them and now the obstruction of justice has been thrown out. And in fact that was -- that really just throws out the entire case because the state of mind of the officer is critical to whether or not they have the right to use their weapon and the jury was not allowed to be told the border is dangerous. The jury did not know the officers were familiar with --

DOBBS: But Congressman, we wouldn't want this to be a referendum on the very witness that the prosecution put forward to impugn the integrity of both of these law enforcement agents. That wouldn't be justice in the minds of this perverted appellate court.

POE: They're wrong because the credibility of the witness is important in any case, especially when you make a deal with the witness and give them all kinds of benefits. The jury should know everything that took place. He's a suspect witness to begin with and hiding the truth from the jury is really a miscarriage of justice.

REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Lou, let me say that along with my colleagues here tonight, we're not going to let this go. We have just begun to fight and let me remind you that these two men join me with other members of Congress to ask that the Office of Professional Responsibility look into Johnny Sutton and what he's done to these two men and their families. It is absolutely unacceptable. They should never have been indicted.

DOBBS: Well, I think we can all agree upon that as we look at Johnny Sutton there. But here's the reality. I mean this is Texas justice is the expression I've heard in years past. And unfortunately, two former law enforcement officers are being taken to task and frankly the United States is having its nose rubbed in it. And you're -- your president folks we've got, he's also from Texas, and I got say, he has not only I think disappointed a nation, he is an embarrassment to this country on every level.

CULBERSON: Every American understands that when the drug dealer goes free and sues us and law enforcement officers sworn to protect this nation go jail, something is terribly wrong with border security and Walter is exactly right. Ted, Walter and I are going to be leading the charge in Congress; we're going to use every legislative tool at our disposal to attempt to get these men out of prison.

DOBBS: Do you really believe there is any chance, gentlemen, in the world that a president that has been this obtuse, this flat out ignorant and this absolutely irresponsible to put it in the kindest words possible to prosecute two law enforcement officers, like Ramos and Compean, that he would in -- through some miracle find integrity and concern and a sense of justice?

POE: We're asking him to commute the sentences, not pardon them. It is bipartisan. We have many Democrats that are asking him to commute these sentences. The defendants both could go through the appellate process again. It shows overall, Lou, that our government is on the wrong side of the border war when it relentlessly prosecutes border agents and lets the drug dealers go loose.

JONES: Lou let me say, you're exactly right. I hope the American people feel you're outrage and our outrage and let the president know by calling the White House and saying this is unacceptable, this is an injustice and, Mr. President, if you can let Scooter Libby out, do something about this situation.

CULBERSON: Absolutely. And chairman Bill Delahunt, I want to say also Lou that the chairman of Massachusetts, a Democrat, has a resolution which we have all co-authored and we're going to lead a bipartisan effort in Congress to pass a resolution demanding that the Ramos and Compean have their sentences commuted for the same reason that Scooter Libby got his sentence commuted.

DOBBS: You know my job here is to be as straightforward and honest as I possibly can be and I've got to remind everybody this may be bipartisan, but there are only a handful of Democrats who signed on or expressed any concern. This is -- you know I respect and appreciate and I know the families will appreciate everything you're doing. I got to say, anyone seeking justice at this hour in this case, you got to have a lot more faith than I do.

I appreciate it, gentlemen.

CULBERSON: Thank you.

POE: We'll never give up.

DOBBS: Coming up next, Senator McCain could support a 16-month timetable for withdraw of our troops from Iraq. Is this a flip-flop or a change in circumstances? We'll be talking about that.

And we'll examine Senator Obama's failure to win a bounce in the polls from his overseas trip or will there be a flip-flop? I'll be talking with three of my favorite radio talk show hosts here next.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country.

In our D.C. bureau, Joe Madison, XM Radio, Dan Patrick, KSEV in Houston, Dan state senator and can also be heard on KBCE in Dallas.

Good to have you with us.

And in our New York studios, Mark Simone, WABC.

Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: All right, Joe. Let's get to it. What's going on with the presidential politics? Isn't Barack Obama supposed to be running away with this thing?

JOE MADISON, XM RADIO: Well you would think he would be.

I did talk with Kevin Chappelle of Johnson's publication. And, you know, this issue about the media following him to Europe and whether they were gloating over him, but he told me something interesting. He said they were really there, now this is what someone in the media pool said, they were really there to see if he would make a mistake. They wanted a misstep more than anything. But I think this has just not translated because most Americans really don't care what Europeans think.

DOBBS: Well I hope to heck not. I pray we haven't gotten to the point where we give a hoot of what the heck these Europeans or the Germans or anybody else thinks.

MADISON: But at least about domestic politics. We do have to care, you know to some degree about --

DOBBS: Let me try this again, Joe. Just so I'm being real clear. I really want the United States for the first time to start pursuing its national interests in the common good of the American citizen. We do that, follow our traditions, our national values, I think we're going to be just fine.

MADISON: I think and Europeans do that, don't they?

DOBBS: The smart ones do -- Dan Patrick?

DAN PATRICK, KSEV IN HOUSTON: Lou, if the media was there to look for a mistake, it was to cover it up, not reveal it. Trust me.

If you really look at Barack Obama, I believe we're going to wake up the morning after the election and a lot of people are going to be stunned that he lost by a relatively wide margin of electoral votes. Because if you look back at what happened at the end of the primary race with Hillary, he really had his hat handed to him in state after state after state.

He can't break out of the 50s. People don't have confidence in him and this trip to Europe where he pretended to be president, I think has turned a lot of people off. No one likes anyone who is arrogant or presumptuous. And he's acting as if the election really doesn't count, as you said earlier in the show.

I think when the final votes are counted, even though McCain was not the first, second or third choice by many conservatives like myself, Barack is no choice and I think you're going see America stand up and say, we're not going to let someone come in here and assume they're the next president and tell us they're the next president. We're going stand up and we're going to vote. I think you'll see that on Election Day.

DOBBS: Now Dan brings up the possibility, Mark, here of a redo. We've got two conventions coming up. Can we get a redo?

SIMONE: I think everybody would be for that on either side of the aisle but you're right, when you run on inevitability, that doesn't work. You can ask Hillary Clinton about that, and when Barack Obama was in Europe, they made fun of McCain, because there he was in a supermarket or in a diner, but it's that candidate that goes into those diners and into those supermarkets that always wins. There's no working class person in Ohio who says well if the president of France likes him, that's good enough for me.

DOBBS: George H.W. Bush was crucified for not knowing what the price of an item was and John McCain gets crucified ...

SIMONE: You've got to know what you're doing.

MADISON: Well first of all look, I said I talked to someone who was in the press pool, and this is a credible journalist who was there. That's number one. Number two, you're absolutely right. I agree, he cannot make this assumption that he's got this in the bag, and I don't think the campaign is. But you know, it's really interesting, even Republicans are saying McCain had the worst week of any candidate, even Novak today in an article said that he is probably as -- drier than Bob Dole was.

SIMONE: Wait a minute. You got to remember one thing. MADISON: That's not a Democrat saying it. That's a fellow Republican.

SIMONE: At this point Dukakis was 17 points ahead, Jimmy Carter was 30 points ahead.

DOBBS: Good news for Obama then.

PATRICK: Here's the point. When we get to September and October, people won't remember where John McCain was in July, but they'll remember Barack was in Europe trying to be president.

DOBBS: We'll see if everybody remembers where we were right after this break. We're going to be right back with our panel in just a moment. Stay with us.

And a reminder to vote in our poll tonight. The question is: Are you surprised the poll shows such a close race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain?

Yes or no? Cast your vote at

We're coming right back. Heat it up, fellows.



Coming up in the "ELECTION CENTER," two breaking stories tonight; the biopsy performed on a piece of skin removed from John McCain's face yesterday does not show any evidence of skin cancer. Good news for Senator McCain.

We're also getting in right now new pictures of the shaking when Los Angeles was hit by an earthquake today.

Also the veepstakes buzz, a big announcement could be really close. We'll see you in a few minutes. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT will be right back.


DOBBS: Well we're back with Joe Madison, Dan Patrick, Mark Simone.

Mark, let's start out with Ramos and Compean. The fifth circuit court of appeals, no justice. They may be an appellate court. They're part of the judiciary system but they don't have a clue what justice is.

SIMONE: Well you may just have to give up the search for justice because I don't think you'll find it here but let's search for some logic. The reason for the ten year mandatory sentence on guns, that's supposed to be a deterrent to stop you, to make you think twice about bringing a gun to a crime but in this case, they're law enforcement officers. They're required to bring a gun. DOBBS: And the authors of the law have said point-blank it was never intended to be applied to law enforcement officers.

SIMONE: That's got to absolutely be changed. These guys deserve a pardon obviously, but you have to remember the sad thing is, they're not Mark Rich who we saw in the paper yesterday out in a yacht. These guys can't give $1 million to a presidential library or hire two of the most powerful lawyers in Washington.

DOBBS: And the Mexican government can -- Dan?

PATRICK: You know, Lou, I've spent a lot of time with border agents down on the border and I can tell you that this has had a tremendous impact on their morale and it's making them flinch -- flinch before they make a decision to draw their weapon and use it, if necessary and in that moment that they have to think about Johnny Sutton lurking over their shoulder, they can get killed. This has already ruined the lives of these two agents even I believe the president at some point will commute their sentences or pardon them, but their lives have been ruined. It's impacted border patrol all across ...

DOBBS: Instead of the presidential library, the folks in Texas ought to build a monument to these two agents and provide for them and their families because that will sully whatever President Bush does ever again in the state of Texas -- Joe?

MADISON: Yes. They're not only not Mark Rich but they're not Scooter Libby, too. So let's understand that.

I think there will be a commute or a pardon and it will probably come around the holiday, the end of the term, but you're going to have to raise holy hell between now and then. I would tell my fellow congressional black caucus members, the people - when I say fellow, I'm not one, but the people I've known for a long, long time. If this were an inner city drug dealer who had done the same thing, who had been given the same breaks, we would be screaming at the top of our lungs. This needs to transcend politics, race and everything else, because this is a very dangerous legal precedent that's being set.

PATRICK: And Lou, I'd likes to know what John McCain and Barack Obama would do. Someone needs to ask them directly would you commute or pardon them now.

SIMONE: They'll both tell you they're not familiar with the case so they can't comment.

MADISON: That's a cop-out. That's a lack of leadership.

DOBBS: I would love to know what these two fellows would do about a whole host of issues. Excuse me.

Turning to one of the things we found out from Nancy Pelosi, she's here to save the planet.

SIMONE: That makes me feel better. DOBBS: Instead of drilling for oil. I have said that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on Capitol Hill and Barack Obama will have to change their views on offshore drilling. What do you think? She's committed to saving the planet.

SIMONE: I like Nancy Pelosi and I have talked to people who work with her, her fellow Congress people, and they have all -- how do I put this nicely -- they've all said she's a nice person, but you wouldn't want to copy off her test paper. Let's just put it that way.

PATRICK: Look they are -- the Democrats are underestimating the American public. The American public gets this issue. It has to be a combination of alternative resources in the future, but we have to drill now. And the longer that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi stand against drilling here, the more angry the American public will get, and they're not going to lose the House, but more Republicans are going to win because of this issue. And the key issue is the Republicans must hold the Senate so the Democrats don't get 60, and Ted Stevens didn't help that situation today, getting indicted, Lou. But this issue is going to hurt the Democrats, and the Democrats, thank goodness, aren't smart enough to figure that out.

MADISON: Well, the Democrats -- look, this is bipartisan, both of them stink on this issue quite frankly.

PATRICK: At least the Republicans don't stink anymore. The Republicans have finally figured it out.

MADISON: Stinking is stinking. Come on. They're both in the hip pockets of big oil. You know it and I know it. And --

PATRICK: The Republicans are as guilty as the Democrats in the past.

DOBBS: Joe, go ahead.


MADISON: I didn't say that. Then that's -- then we agree. We close by saying we agree.


DOBBS: I'll jump in here and say to you (ph) I disagree. We're going to have to watch these skunks who stink in both political parties and big oil to make certain that that energy from offshore, and wherever else we get it, goes to where it belongs, and that is to the domestic marketplace and that working men and women in this country are those who benefit from it. And that is going to mean we have to get rid of the stink in both of these cotton-picking parties.


DOBBS: In my humble estimation.

MADISON: So stink is the (INAUDIBLE) word of the day. SIMONE: The party symbol should be the skunk.


DOBBS: All right. Dan Patrick, Joe Madison, Mark Simone, you guys -- I don't know, it was -- you were a breath of fresh air. Thank you, gentlemen.

Tonight's poll results -- 62 percent of you are not surprised the polls show such a close race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

We thank you for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. Good night from New York.

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