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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Obama's Veto Threat; Geithner Questioned on Taxes; Marcus Schrenker Manhunt; Saving Banks Again; Healthcare Rip-off

Aired January 13, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight surprising new questions about President-elect Obama's nominee to be secretary of the Department of Treasury, Tim Geithner. Questions about his taxes. Were they paid? And the legal status of his housekeeper. We'll have complete coverage tonight.

And a story you'll see only on this broadcast. Charges that this country's biggest health insurance companies ripped off more than 100 million Americans. Are you one of them?

And tonight, last year one of the coldest years in American history. Is it evidence that global warming is being overstated? Or are we headed toward a new Ice Age? Or none of the above. We'll be joined by three of the world's leading authorities on climate change and physics. All of that, all the day's news, and much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, January 13th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. President-elect Obama's honeymoon may be over before it begins. The president-elect today threatened a veto to call a rebellion in his own party against the big bailout for Wall Street and others. As President-elect Obama struggled to win support for that bailout, his nominee for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner faced startling new questions, the questions concerning his failure to pay some taxes and his failure to check the immigration status of a housekeeper. Candy Crowley has our report from Washington.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A veto threat before taking office. History continues to be made as President-elect Barack Obama warned members of his own party he'll veto an attempt to block his access to the remaining $350 billion in an emergency bailout fund. He is pushing back in the face of some pretty vocal, significant objections.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: People back home, generally didn't want the first go round. And I'm not going to jump out in front of a train on the second one.

CROWLEY: The incoming president drew the veto card in what's described as a spirited discussion at the regular party luncheon with Senate Democrats. Furious with the way the Bush administration kept them out of the loop on how the first 350 billion was spent, Democrats are unwilling to write another blank check no matter who wants it.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well it's not enough just to have someone that you trust. We have to have specific criteria as to what is going to be happening. Will there be accountability? Transparency? We can't even get answers.

CROWLEY: If in the first couple of days the Obama era he vetoed a bill sent by the Democratic-controlled Congress it would be pretty ugly and interpreted as a major setback for a new president which is why most objections begin with I'd like to be supportive, but...

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: But you have to examine this new piece of legislation through the filter of some very unfortunate history with respect to the original program.

CROWLEY: Despite the bruising once over his request is getting, ultimately, the Obama team believes the Senate will not block his access to the money which is how the top Democrat in the Senate sees it too.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think we will get the necessary votes, yes. I feel very confident about that.


CROWLEY: Now, shortly after that lively meeting discussing those financial bailout funds, it was revealed that Treasury Secretary designate Timothy Geithner had for a short period of time, had an undocumented domestic worker in his household and also that for several years he had not paid his personal taxes.

The transition team put out a lengthy list of reasons why this was just they said an honest mistake. Whether this is a show stopper or not, it certainly is not the kind of PR that the Obama transition wishes to exhibit as it is trying to calm Americans about the kind of team that's being put in charge to oversee the economy. Lou.

DOBBS: A lot of drama for the president-elect, who says he's not into drama. The president-elect has also signaled he will drop that $3,000 a job tax cut from his proposed stimulus package, Candy. That looks like trading on a dime, if you will, in Wall Street parlance, showing some let's say flexibility.

CROWLEY: Absolutely and it's important that he shows some because obviously, the Democrats have said we want a say so here and they complained about that business tax credit, $3,000 for every new hire by a business, saying it's not going to create jobs so there is some flexibility out there about the moving parts of a stimulus plan, but overall, the parts that have been laid out, the tax cuts, the investment in infrastructure, the help for state governments, those all remain the same, kind of a triangle of how he wants to help the country. But inside it they are certainly moving around the figures and listening to some other ideas. DOBBS: Candy, (INAUDIBLE) here let's bring in our colleagues, senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash and senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. Ed, what does this mean for the Treasury secretary's nomination, as best you can tell?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well first, on the face of it, it's an embarrassment for the Treasury secretary to have not paid taxes for any time period. At the same time, you've got Charlie Rangel in charge of the tax writing committee and the House of Representatives and other Democrats who has questions about not paying his taxes on a second home in the Dominican Republic, so as Treasury secretary, he would be overseeing the Internal Revenue Service.

That's an embarrassment on the face of it. But the Obama team is very aggressive about saying, look, as soon as he figured this problem out, he paid you know interest in addition to what he actually owed. And they think it's a minor mistake that he's dealt with...

DOBBS: That's actually...

HENRY: Problematic...

DOBBS: But Ed, that's not actually the case. Point in fact, the transition team after he had already paid taxes 2003 and '04, the transition team discovered he hadn't paid taxes for 2001 and '02. It was at their insistence that he did that.

HENRY: Yes and what they're saying is that he did that after they figured that out on I believe November 21st, then he was unveiled at Treasury secretary on November 24th. Interesting they didn't tell the Senate Finance Committee until about a week or week and a half later in December and it's also interesting where only the public is only learning about it right now in the new year.

I think obviously, politically it might have been smarter for them to get this out sooner instead of right near the confirmation hearings to deal with it. But in the long arc of it, they believe that this is not going to kill the nomination...

DOBBS: Well in the long arc of it, the man was derelict in his taxes for four years. I believe the issue of the legality -- the legal status of his housekeeper over a period of three months that certainly is, if you will, minor potatoes. But in point of fact these taxes are a very serious issue and no amount of spin from this White House before it even becomes the new White House is -- well a good try, but I don't think particularly successful.

Dana Bash, let me ask you, just -- here we have the president- elect. I cannot think of a time in history that a president-elect has threatened a veto before he even stepped into office and especially a veto with the leadership from his own party in Congress.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is absolutely remarkable. And I got to tell you, Lou, I have been talking to Democratic senators all day long here, both before and after that meeting with Barack Obama. And their -- the bottom line is they say, look, of course we trust him. But that's not enough on this issue. It is so controversial.

It is so unpopular back home. And that they say look, we need to know a lot more about the changes that he's going to make and more concrete evidence he's going to make those changes to make this possible for to us vote for. So it is certainly difficult for them. It is going to be fascinating to see how the vote goes down. And, remember, the Democrats are part of the problem. The other issue is they (INAUDIBLE) the Republican vote in the Senate and many Republicans are in the exact same boat...

DOBBS: Well real quickly, Dana...


DOBBS: I mean the Democratic -- the Democrats have got to be more than a little upset that a president of their own party would be threatening them with a veto before they even get down to business here.

BASH: Well what they say, at least the leadership, they say that he was basically stating the obvious in terms of the process here that would have to be gone through if...

DOBBS: The process? A president-elect threatening a veto? Dana, come on.

BASH: The process is such -- I know, I know. Listen, listen...


BASH: Process equals politics here on Capitol Hill and that is always the case. But look the bottom line is he was stating the obvious. And the obvious is if he gets a resolution of disapproval, he's going to have to put his veto pen in here. But you're absolutely right. It is probably unprecedented and certainly not a political position that Barack Obama wants to be in, trying to sell this very unpopular thing, his first thing out of the gate.

DOBBS: Candy, I want to turn you real quickly. Why Nelson, Stabenow? These are the liberals in this Democratic Senate for crying out loud. These are not some renegade conservatives from the Republican Party. He has got a problem here, doesn't he?

CROWLEY: He certainly does have a problem. Whether it remains one I think you know it's said that these are people saying we're not absolutely not going to support this no matter what. They always have a gee I'd really like to be helpful here. They are very aware he's a Democrat. They have got a Democratic-controlled Congress so they do want to be helpful and there is some thought here that listen, these are senators and congressmen who need to talk back to their constituents and say I have done something here. He has promised to do the following thing so that you don't have to be so upset about where these funds go. So it may be pushback that in the end will turn into yes votes.

DOBBS: All right, we'll see as they say. Thank you very much, folks. We appreciate it. Ed, Dana, thank you -- Candy, thank you.

Coming up here next, a rip off affecting more than 100 million Americans by their own health insurance companies. For 10 years this rip-off went undetected. That story you will see only on this broadcast, here next.

Also, rising opposition to giving banks even more of your money as Dana and Ed, and Candy just reported, $350 billion of it now up in the air. Who will be holding the banks accountable? They haven't held any accountable so far.

And important new developments in the mystery of a missing financial manager who tried to fake his own death by parachuting from his plane. We'll have the latest for you. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: Well, two felony charges have been filed tonight and a nationwide manhunt is now under way for Marcus Schrenker. He's the financial manager who authorities believe faked his own death by parachuting from his plane over the state of Alabama. That plane, a Piper Malibu, later crashed in a Florida swamp near a residential area. Schrenker is now believed to have e-mailed a friend after that plane crash. Brooke Baldwin has the very latest from Harpersville, Alabama.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Marcus Schrenker appeared to have it all, a multimillion dollar home, planes, the perfect marriage, but according to a new e-mail allegedly from Schrenker it was a life that was spinning out of control.

TOM BRITT, COLLEAGUE: And at the end of the e-mail, the most disturbing part was he said, by the time you read this, I'll be gone. And I interpreted that as a suicide note.

BALDWIN: Tom Britt says he got an e-mail from Schrenker Monday night, the day after authorities say the 38-year-old businessman faked a distress call, parachuted out of his plane over Alabama, leaving it to fly empty on auto pilot, eventually crashing in Florida. In the e- mail Britt says Schrenker claimed the crash was an accident. He also wanted to defend his financial firm and recent allegations of securities fraud.

BRITT: Either he had no wrongdoing in that, that him and his wife did everything they could to try to save that business and that that really wasn't his fault.

BALDWIN: Since Schrenker's disappearance, the state of Indiana has issued two warrants for his arrest. The charges? Investment fraud.

JIM ATTERHOLT, INDIANA DEPT. OF INSURANCE: This guy is particularly brash and he's been very difficult to work with in terms of trying to prosecute him and he is clearly very confident of himself and his practices, so it's been somewhat difficult getting closure on this.

BALDWIN: So confident, that the U.S. marshals say Schrenker stashed a motorcycle last Saturday in this storage facility in Harpersville, Alabama. Wanda Brooks (ph) says her sister rented this storage unit to Schrenker who appeared in person with a red Yamaha in tow.

WANDA BROOKS, OWNER, MINI-STORAGE: He told her on Saturday, he said I just need it for tomorrow and I'll be back Monday.

BALDWIN: By Monday night, the motorcycle and Schrenker were gone.

BROOKS: He talked to her for awhile, said he was really nice gentleman. She had no idea about it until yesterday afternoon when she saw the news. And she -- when she saw his face, she said I rented him that building.


BALDWIN: This afternoon an Indiana judge set Schrenker's bail for $4 million in cash and Lou, how about this twist? Tom Britt told me on the phone, he says one of the reason whys Schrenker e-mailed him in the first place is because he has been following his story, his disappearance on and simply wanted to set the record straight. Lou.

DOBBS: Well, what better source could he have? Brooke, thank you very much -- Brooke Baldwin. Appreciate it.

Well in California, a man facing charges that he sold his 14- year-old daughter into marriage in exchange for cash, beer and meat. Police say 36-year-old Marceleno Dejesus Martinez (ph) of Greenville (ph), California sold his daughter to an 18-year-old for $16,000, 160 cases of beer, six cases of meat and some other items. Martinez (ph) tonight is in custody after authorities say he called them when he wasn't paid on time.

In New York, a couple fighting over a donated kidney went to court today. Richard Batista insists that his wife was unfaithful. Batista demanding she return the kidney he gave her or pay him $1.5 million. Batista also wants his wife thrown in jail for not allowing him to visit their children.

His wife Darnell (ph) now says she never cheated. She also said she never denied Batista visitation rights. Darnell Batista (ph) is asking the judge to impose a gag order in this case.

Well there may be a plea deal tonight in that $50 billion fraud case of Bernie Madoff. According to court filings, prosecutors have had what they termed discussions with Madoff's attorney about a possible plea agreement. Madoff remains under house arrest.

He's not in jail and is now said to be again cooperating with the investigation. Madoff could face life in prison if he's convicted. Another big shakeup tonight on Wall Street, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup agreeing to merge their brokerage units. Morgan Stanley paying Citigroup nearly $3 billion for what amounts to a 51 percent stake in a joint venture. Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have announced no specific details, but there are reports they will set aside as much $3 billion in so-called retention bonuses for the top brokers in the two organizations.

Those bonuses perhaps coming from some of the $55 billion of taxpayer bailout money the two banks received from the federal government, $45 billion of taxpayer money for Citigroup, $10 billion of taxpayer money for Morgan Stanley and a few billion dollars in bonuses as a result.

The Treasury Department has utterly failed to hold banks and other institutions accountable for the bailout money that they have given out. But that isn't preventing the Bush administration and President-elect Obama from asking for even more of your money. Another $350 billion to bail out, you guessed it, more banks. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President-elect Obama lobbied his former Senate colleagues to release the second $350 billion of bailout money. Mr. Obama wants to spend that money on shoring up the nation's shaky housing sector and for small businesses and community banks. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the nation's financial institutions still need a life preserver. More taxpayer dollars to keep the economy afloat and without it, he says a stimulus package will not be effective.

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: The public in many countries is understandably concerned by the commitment of substantial government resources to aid the financial industry when other industries receive little or no assistance. This despair of treatment, unappealing as it is, appears unavoidable.

SYLVESTER: The idea of shelling out billions more to banks is being met with skepticism on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers want to know what happened to the first $350 billion.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: We know that so much went to each different banks. We don't know what the banks did with it.

REP. SPENCER BACHUS (R), ALABAMA: I remember a time when it was the banks that loaned money to people and not the other way around. Now it appears that the people are loaning money to the banks.

SYLVESTER: Some economic analysts are calling for a shift. Along the lines of what Obama is proposing. Instead of giving money to the banking system and hoping that help will trickle down to homeowners, tackle the problem at the source, foreclosures.

PROF. SUSAN WACHTER, WHARTON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: We have a wave of foreclosures coming. It's not slowing down, it's speeding up and as homes go into foreclosure, they pull prices down in local markets which cause more foreclosures.

SYLVESTER: Wachter says the longer policymakers don't deal with the foreclosure crisis, more taxpayer money will be required to dig the economy out.


SYLVESTER: Some Republican members who voted for the original bailout program are now very skeptical. Two resolutions of disapproval have been introduced in Congress, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, we heard earlier, says that he is confident that he has enough votes to make sure the remaining bailout funds are released. Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington. Well we'd like to know what you think about all of this. Tonight's poll question, do you find it vaguely disturbing that our government has thrown $8 trillion at our economic crisis and we have no idea where it's gone or what it has accomplished? Yes or no. Cast your vote at The results will be coming up here later.

Up next, are we heading for a new Ice Age or is global warming intensifying? We'll examine the evidence in our special report. We'll have a discussion with experts and it's a story you'll only see here on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT.

The nation's second largest health insurer accused of lining its pockets at the expense of 100 million Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that the health care companies have broken a sacred trust with their clients.


DOBBS: That special report coming up here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: There are charges tonight that one of the country's biggest health insurers rigged the system to benefit itself and they did so at the expense of more than 100 million Americans dependent on medical care and they did it for years. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York said United Healthcare kept reimbursements low and has been defrauding consumers for a decade. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mary Jerome (ph), a cancer patient, sick and struggling with staggering medical bills her insurance company won't fully cover.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like I was fighting two battles. One was my cancer and trying to bring up courage enough to fight that. And then to be forced to face another battle was very difficult. PILGRIM: She is one of an estimated 110 million people who were ripped off by her insurance company. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office, after looking at millions of medical bills for out of network care, discovered that some of the biggest insurers in the country were in an alleged scheme to defraud consumers by setting reimbursement rates too low and it says Cuomo's office it went on for 10 years.

The company that set the reimbursement rates in Genex (ph) was owned by insurance company United Healthcare Group, and according to Cuomo, low balled reimbursements by 10 to 28 percent.

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: In our opinion, the usual and customary rates are controlled by the industry. It was a closed system. It was a closed loop.

PILGRIM: Nearly all insurers in the country were using the same low reimbursement rates from in Genex (ph), Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare and Well Point, as well as smaller insurers. Consumers complained they felt trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What ever insurance company you went to, they were all using the same source of data. They were going to reimburse you the same amount of money.

PILGRIM: Today, United Healthcare Group admitted the problem.

THOMAS STRICKLAND, UNITED HEALTH GROUP: We regret that conflicts of interest were inherent in these -- in Genex (ph) database products.

PILGRIM: But consumer advocates say it was an outrage.

ROB SCHNEIDER, CONSUMERS UNION: The consumers have been paying increasing health care premiums for year after year. What they should be able to count on is that the insurance company when they go out of network is going to calculate what a fair price is.

PILGRIM: After 10 years, now insurance companies will have to.


PILGRIM: United has an agreement with Attorney General Cuomo's office to pay $50 million to set up a new, independent way to calculate the reimbursement rates and consumers will be able to go online to see what their reimbursement rates will be for various medical bills. Lou.

DOBBS: Well you know that's terrific and my compliments to the attorney general. And -- but I just can't believe that this is the way -- I mean they defrauded people for 10 years. They get -- it costs them $50 million. Nobody goes to jail?

PILGRIM: Yes, it seems -- it seems they worked it out that they'll just set up a new system. That's the agreement that they reached with United. DOBBS: Only in America folks. Only in America, $50 billion rip off for Bernie Madoff -- he is sitting in his penthouse. You know screw 100 million Americans for a decade and take a $50 million slap on the wrist and come up with another way. And they own the company setting the reimbursement rates.

PILGRIM: Right. No, when you really look at it...

DOBBS: I mean -- when you really look at it...

PILGRIM: When you really look at it you're astounded that this went on for so long.

DOBBS: It's unbelievable.


DOBBS: Absolutely unbelievable. Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Alarming new information tonight about the result of this country's so-called free trade policies. We've been reporting on this to you for some number of years now. The trade deficit in November plummeted, dropping almost 30 percent to $40.4 billion. But of that $40 billion, more than half, more than $23 million is with China.

The numbers actually represent, as I say, a 29 percent decline in our trade deficit. But not because of any intelligent trade policy reform or change in direction, but because of a sharp decline in consumer demand in this country and sharp declines in crude oil.

Up next here, President-elect Obama's choice for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, well he's produced some unexpected questions about himself, his taxes and the legal status of his housekeeper. Three of my favorite radio talk show hosts join me here next.

Also, another troubling example of the ACLU's outright support for illegal aliens and intent to intimidate now a judge. A story you'll see only on this broadcast.

The possibility that we might, just might, could we be headed toward a new Ice Age or is it full steam ahead for global warming? We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion. Here again Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Welcome back. Global warming is a complex, controversial issue and on this broadcast we have been critical of both sides in this debate. We've challenged the orthodoxy surrounding global warming theories and questioned more evidence on the side of the Ice Age and prospect in the minds of some. In point of fact, research, some of it, shows that we could be heading toward cooler temperatures, and it's a story you will only see here on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Ines Ferre has our report.


INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Will the day after tomorrow bring a deep freeze like that shown in the movie? Research more than 50 years ago by astrophysicist Milanchovich (ph) shows that ice ages run in predictable cycles and the earth could go into one. How soon? In science terms it could be thousands of years. But what happens in the next decade is still up in the air. Part of the science community believes that global warming is a man-maid threat. But Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute predicts the next 20 to 30 years will actually bring cooling temperatures.

DENNIS AVERY, HUDSON INSTITUTE: The earth's temperatures have dropped an average of .6 Celsius in the last two years. The Pacific Ocean is telling us, as it has told us 10 times in the past 400 years, you're going to get cooler.

FERRE: Avery points to a lack of sunspots as a predictor for lower temperatures, saying the affects of greenhouse gas warming have a small impact on climate change. Believers in global warming, like NASA researcher, Dr. Gavin Schmidt disagree.

DR. GAVIN SCHMIDT, NASA: The long term trend is clearly toward warming, and those trends are completely dwarf any changes due to the solar cycle.

FERRE: In a speech last week, President-elect Obama called for the creation of a green energy economy. Still, others warn that no matter what you think about climate change, new policies would essentially have no effect.

FRED SINGER, SCIENCE & ENV. POLICY PROJECT: There's very little we can do about it. Any effort to restrict the use of carbon dioxide will hurt us economically and have zero effect on the Chicago mate.

FERRE: As Singer says, a lot of pain, for no gain.


FERRE: And three independent research groups concluded that the average global temperature in 2008 was the ninth or tenth warmest since 1850, but also since the coldest since the turn of the 21st century.

DOBBS: It's fascinating and nothing -- nothing -- stirs up the left, the right, and extremes in this debate, the orthodoxy that exists on both sides of the debate than to even say global warming. It's amazing.

FERRE: When I spoke to experts and scientists today from one side and the other, you could feel the kind of anger about --

DOBBS: Cannot we just all get along? Ines, thank you very much.

Joining me now three leading experts in Manchester, New Hampshire, we're joined by Joseph D'Aleo of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project. Good to have with you us.


DOBBS: He's also the cofounder of The Weather Channel. In Washington, D.C., as you see there, Jay Lehr, he's the science director of the Heartland Institute. And in Boston, Alex Gross, he's the cofounder of Good to have you with us.

Let's put a few numbers out here, the empirical discussion and see what we can make of it. First is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has very good records on temperatures, average temperatures in the United States, dating back to 1880. And here's what these numbers look like. You've all seen those. But help us all -- the audience and most of all me to get through this, they show the warmest years on record, 1998, 2006, and 1934. 2008 was cooler, in fact the coolest since 1997. It's intriguing to see that graph there. The graph we're looking at showing some question that the warming trend may be just a snapshot in time. The global temperatures by NOAA are seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. The ten warmest years have all occurred since 1995.

So let me start, if I may, Joseph, your reaction to those numbers. Do you quibble with what they represent?

D'ALEO: Yes, I do. In fact, if you look at the satellite data, which is the most reliable data, the best coverage of the globe, 2008 was the 14th coldest in 30 years. That doesn't jive with the tenth warmest in 159 years in the Hadley data set or 113 or 114 years in the NOAA data set. Those global data sets are contaminated by the fact that two-thirds of the globe's stations dropped out in 1990. Most of them rural and they performed no urban adjustment. And, Lou, you know, and the people in your studio know that if they live in the suburbs of New York City, it's a lot colder in rural areas than in the city. Now we have more urban effect in those numbers reflecting -- that show up in that enhanced or exaggerated warming in the global data set.

DOBBS: Your thoughts on these numbers. Because they are intriguing. They are a brief snapshot admittedly, in comparison to total extended time. I guess we could go back 4.6 billion years. Let's keep it in the range of something like 500,000 years. What's your reaction to those numbers and your interpretation?



DOBBS: Go ahead, Jay.

LEHR: Lou, I'm in the camp with Joe and Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, and I think more importantly, it is to look at the sun's output, and in recent years, we've seen very, very low sunspot activity, and we are definitely, in my mind, not only in a cooling period, we're going to be staying in it for a couple decades, and I see it as a major advantage, although I think we will be able to adapt to it. I'm hopeful that this change in the sun's output will put some common sense into the legislature, not to pass any dramatic cap in trade or carbon tax legislation that will set us in a far deeper economic hole. I believe Mr. Obama and his economic team are well placed to dig us out of this recession in the next 18 months to 2 years, but I think if we pass any dramatic legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, the recession will last quite a few more years and we'll come out of it with a lower standard of living on very tenuous scientific grounds.

DOBBS: Alex, the carbon footprint, generation of greenhouse gases, specifically co2, the concern focusing primarily on the carbon footprint, and of course generated by fossil fuels primarily, what is your thinking as you look at that survey of 130 -- almost 130 years and the impact on the environment?

ALEX WISSNER-GROSS, CO2STATS.COM: Well, Lou, I think regardless of whatever the long-term trend in the climate data is, there a long- term technological trend which is that as time goes on our technology tends toward smaller and smaller physical footprint. That means in part that in the long term we like technology to have a smaller environmental footprint, burning fewer greenhouse gases and becoming as small and environmentally neutral and noninvasive as possible. So I think regardless of the climate trend, I think we'll see less and less environmentally impactful technologies.

DOBBS: To be straight forward about this, that's where I come down. I don't know it matters to me whether there is global warming or we're moving toward an ice age it seems really that we should be reasonable stewards of the planet and the debate over whether it's global warming or whether it's moving toward perhaps another ice age or business as usual is almost moot here in my mind. I know that will infuriate the advocates of global warming as well as the folks that believe we are headed toward another ice age. What's your thought?

D'ALEO: I agree with you, Lou. We need conservation. An all of the above solution for energy, regardless of whether we're right and it cools over the next few decades or continues to warm, a far less dangerous scenario. And that means nuclear. It means coal, oil, natural gas. Geothermal, all of the above.

DOBBS: Jay, you made the comment about the impact of solar sunspot activity. Sunspot activity the 11-year cycle that we're all familiar with. There are much larger cycles, 12,000 to 13,000 years as well. We also heard a report disregard, if you will, for the strength and significance of solar activity on the earth's environment. How do you respond to that?

FEHR: It just seems silly to not recognize that the earth's climate is driven by the sun. Your Chad Myers pointed out it's really arrogant to think that man controls the climate. 90 percent of the climate is water vapor which we have no impact over and if we were to try to reduce greenhouse gases with China and India controlling way more than we do and they have boldly said they are not going to cripple their economy by following suit, our impact would have no -- no change in temperature at all in Europe they started carbon -- capping trade in 2005. They've had no reduction in groan house gases, but a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in the standard of living. We don't want to go that route.

DOBBS: Alex, you get the last word here. Are you as dismissive of the carbon footprint as measured by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

GROSS: No, not really. But I think in the long term, efficiency is where the gains come from. I think efficiency should come first, carbon footprint second.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Alex, Jay, and Joe. Folks, appreciate you being with us.

FEHR: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up next here, Obama's choice to head the treasury department failed to pay taxes and had a problem with the immigration status of his housekeeper. What was he thinking?

And did the ACLU try to intimidate a judge in an identity theft case? We'll find out here next.


DOBBS: The ACLU continues to advocate for the rights of illegal immigrants over American citizens. An official may have tried to threaten a Colorado judge. It's a story you'll only see on this broadcast. Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Law enforcement officials in Weld County, Colorado, allege 1,300 illegal aliens used stolen identities to receive $2.7 million in improper federal tax refunds. Now the ACLU has taken up the case of the tax preparer who filed all of the returns. She has not been accused of wrongdoing, but the ACLU says she want her client's tax forms back and is planning to sue for invasion of privacy this after a Colorado judge threw out criminal charges against one of the defendants and ordered arrests halted. He said local authorities appeared to be intruding on a federal issue, because their evidence is mostly based on federal tax returns, and he raised privacy concerns. Count Prosecutors Ken Buck who is leading the investigation, dubbed operation number games, has filed 130 criminal charges so far. He's been frustrated by the judicial delays.

KEN BUCK, WELD COUNTY, COLO. DA: Any time you're dealing with illegal immigration cases or illegal immigrants having committed crimes, there is a concern about individuals leaving the jurisdiction. These particular defendants are highly qualified at assuming other identities, and so I think it's easier for them to pick up and move. WIAN: Last week, an existing grand jury indicted five new defendants, clearing they way for arrest warrants in those cases. Prosecutors then requested a separate grand jury to investigate all the cases. Grand juries have a different standard for prosecution, one Buck believes would allow the disputed tax rushes. But Mark Silverstein, the Colorado ACLU's legal director, wrote the judge who was considering appointing the grand jury. The letter warns of the tax preparer's planned lawsuit and then says to the judge, "It is unusual for me to write a letter like this but I wanted to provide you with a heads up in case it may inform your decision about whether to convene a grand jury or when to schedule it." Legal experts agree it is unusual, but not necessarily improper.


WIAN: We called Silverstein to ask if the letter was an attempt to persuade the judge not to convene the grand jury if that was the intent, it failed. He agreed not to seat just one, but two grand juries to investigate all 1,300 I.D. theft cases -- Lou?

DOBBS: He can say whatever he want to. I can't imagine what it would be if it were not an attempt to intimidate the judge with the possibility of legal action.

WIAN: What was really surprising to me, Lou, whether I first read this letter, I thought this was outrageous. But the legal experts I spoke with says it's not necessarily improper. It's just attorneys advocating for their client and this kind of stuff goes on more than we know.

DOBBS: Well, the fact that he convened not one, but two grand juries tells you why it is unusual, but it obviously backfired in this case. Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

Up next, Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill facing tough questions about foreign policy, possible conflict of interest. I'm kidding. It was an absolute love fest. We'll have the story.

And Governor David Paterson says he's impressed by Caroline Kennedy.

And how about that Beatles trip by the president-elect? We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of my favorite radio talk show hosts, in Washington, D.C., Sirius XM radio, Joe Madison. Joe, good to have you with us. From KVCE in Dallas, Dan Patrick. How are you? Here in New York, WOR radio, one of my colleagues now, good to have you with us, Steve.

Let's start with, I mean the ACLU, Joe Madison going after, just informing the good judge of possible legal action. That blew up. He has two grand juries now going after a possible indictments of 1,300 folks in identity theft cases. JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO: I think I heard the correspondents. So they didn't think the letter would see the light of day. They tried and they failed. And you know it takes a lot of guts to do something like that. So it's -- you know, it's a legal procedure. Let the grand jury now decide.

DOBBS: What do you think, Dan?

DAN PATRICK, KVCE IN DALLAS: Well, I am always amazed, Lou, a voicemail left, e-mail sent or hard copy, snail mail is sent. People involved in serious, use that can get them in serious trouble think they're the only one whose are ever going to see it. Couldn't happen to a better group, Lou. I am happy for the ACLU.

DOBBS: I happen to agree with you on that. I guarantee you. Let's turn to the treasury secretary, Timothy Geitner, nominee of Barack Obama, apparently had an illegal alien, let's be clear. She was legal, then for three months was not. But he failed to pay taxes for a period of four years. Two years he apparently discovered when nominated figured out he better pay it. Two more years, '01 and '02 when the transition team figured out he had not paid taxes at the I.M.F.

STEVE MALZBERG, WOR IN NEW YORK: What kind of vetting process? We knew what happened with Bill Richardson. They nominated him. You can't have the guy running the I.R.S. not paying $30,000, $40,000 in taxes. It's just ridiculous. Like Charlie Wrangle running the ways and means committee with all the investigations. It doesn't reflect well on Obama or his vetting team.

DOBBS: Joe Madison?

MADISON: Well he should do Obama a favor and back out. I am a supporter, I want Obama to win. But I agree with Steve. I mean, first thing I said today to my wife what was the vetting process like? Why didn't you catch this? And Steve is right. If you let this guy go, you might as well let Charlie Wrangle come on through too. So we will see what happens. If I were him. I would, I would do the honorable thing and withdraw my name.

PATRICK: Yes, you know, Lou, I think some times. I would agree with the vetting process. There should be a question there. I'm not someone looking to cut Obama a lot of slack as a conservative Republican. How about the responsibility of the nominee. You know you have this on you. You know you could potentially embarrass the -- the president, you know you could end up losing the nomination because of it, when it comes to you why can't you just have the character to say "you know, I appreciate the opportunity, but I can't do it." And take care of it quietly not explain why and step aside. You can't, again, you cannot keep things quiet in America anymore.

DOBBS: It's impossible. We'll be right back with our panel in a moment.

First at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown "NO BIAS, NO BULL." Campbell, tell us all about it. CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Lou. Well it was smooth sailing today for secretary of state nominee Hillary Clinton. As you guys have been chatting, problems are cropping up for another of Barack Obama's most crucial cabinet nominees. In a few minutes, we're going to take a "NO BIAS, NO BULL" look at brand new disclosures about the treasury secretary nominee, Timothy Geitner, his tax problems, his housekeeper whose work permit expired.

We're also waiting on word or getting word about how Republicans feel about this, all this, will they try to derail the nomination?

And also, Barack Obama's very first veto threat. We'll talk about that. And Laura Bush's eye opening reaction to Obama's criticism of her husband during the campaign. We'll have that as well, Lou.

DOBBS: Sure there is nothing to it at all, Campbell. Thank you a lot.

We'll be back with the panel and the results of tonight's poll. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We're back with Joe Madison, Dan Patrick, and Steve Malzberg. Let me start with you. Veto threat from a president-elect. We checked. We can't find any evidence in history that occurred before.

MALZBERG: You talk about, you know, self-importance. The guy has been looking at this, office of the president-elect seal that he has on the podium. I think it's gotten to him. How on earth do you have the chutzpah to threaten to veto something when you -- he told us there is one president at a time. I can't say this. I can't say that. And here before he is in he is going to veto legislation not passed.

DOBBS: I think he is thinking of his time, Joe. What do you think?

MADISON: I think what it is. Democrats have this way of having a circular firing squad. And you know, this happened to Clinton. Although he didn't threaten a veto before he got in. So I think what Obama is doing. He is telling the Democrats I'm not Clinton back off. We'll see what happens.

DOBBS: What do you think, Dan?

PATRICK: I was just going to say in his own mind he is superman. He can do no wrong. Because the media allows him to say and do whatever he wants. Really the media in this country, mainstream media, exceptions like you, Lou, hold people accountable. If you are not held accountable and you are the most powerful man in the world as you are president of the United States. That can be a scary thing if you start believing your own headlines. DOBBS: Talk about believing your own headline, that is Rolland Burris, seated as the junior senator, Senator Harry Reid, man did he have to eat it on this one?

MALZBERG: He's a great sleep aid. If you want to fall asleep you listen to Harry Reid. He went from saying, I decide who gets in the Senate. Well he is a great man. I wasn't racist at all was. I wasn't racist. Unbelievable.

DOBBS: Dan Patrick?

MADISON: It was unbelievable. The Democrats ought to be ashamed of themselves. Quite honestly, Rolland Burris should be seated now, so for the inaugural he is seated for the people of Illinois. The Democrats better watch it. They upset a lot of my listeners.

DOBBS: Dan, last word?

PATRICK: I want to go back to self-responsibility. How about Mr. Burris stepping up and saying under this cloud I cannot accept this nomination. I have not been elected. He could have avoided a lot of this. I mean the people of Illinois didn't send him there. He is not -- this is a joke.

DOBBS: All right. We will have to leave it right there. It is not a joke. It is legal. Unbelievably unresolved. We appreciate everybody's view. Steve, thank you. Thank you, Joe. Good to have you here. Good to see you.

Tonight's poll results. Only 98 percent of you find it vaguely disturbing -- vaguely disturbing that our government has thrown $8 trillion at our economic crisis having no idea where it is gone or what it has accomplished.

Join me on the radio for the Lou Dobbs show and get the local listings in your area for the broadcast. We thank you.

Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS, NO BULL" starts now.