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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Sarah Palin Resigns; U.S.-Russia Agreement; Driving out the Taliban; Michael Jackson Investigation

Aired July 03, 2009 - 19:00   ET



Tonight, a stunning announcement from Alaska Governor Sarah Palin -- she's resigning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not wired to operate under the same old politics as usual.


PILGRIM: And days before the president's summit in Moscow, the U.S. and Russia are believed to reach an agreement. American arms may soon flow through Russia into Afghanistan.

And the latest information in the Michael Jackson investigation -- new evidence that may point to the role of prescription drugs in his death.

We'll get to those developments in a moment, but first tonight breaking news -- an astonishing announcement by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now the former Republican vice presidential candidate stood before cameras outside her home in Wasilla, Alaska and said she is quitting as governor. It was a rambling off-the-cuff speech and her reason seems to be that she doesn't want to become a distraction. Candy Crowley joins us now with the details. Candy why is she doing this?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you what she said. She says that she is leaving the governorship at the end of this month, not when her term was up, which would be at the end of next year, but at the end of this month she's going to hand the job over to the lieutenant governor because Palin argued that so many people are coming at her, that there are so many investigations costing millions and millions of dollars that she can no longer get that job done and could get the job done better outside elected politics. Of course, she put all of this in Palin-style.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: Let me go back quickly to a comfortable analogy for me, and that's sports -- basketball. And I use it because you are naive if you don't see a full court press from the national level picking away right now -- a good point guard. Here's what she does. She drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win and that is what I'm doing.

Keeping our eye on the ball -- that represents sound priorities -- remember they include energy independence and smaller government and national security, and freedom and I know when it's time to pass the ball for victory.


CROWLEY: So at the end of the day what we are left with is the fact that Sarah Palin is leaving office as governor only two and a half years into her first term. There are some of those that look at this and say she is really paving her way toward 2012 to run for president. She can write a big book. She can get a lot of money.

She can go around the lower 48 and make friends in the states that she's going to need have friends in and others say you know what? She's totally sick of it. She wants out of politics. We had a close friend of her say that to our Kevin Bonner (ph), our producer. So you know what is she up to? I don't know. What's the real reason? I don't know. All I can tell you is that this is one of those stories, Kitty that makes you feel as though there's a piece missing.

PILGRIM: It certainly does. Candy what -- give us a sense of what this will do to the political future of the Republican Party?

CROWLEY: I'm not sure there's an effect here. I think the political future of the Republican Party doesn't depend on one person. It depends on a set of good ideas that can be promoted by one person. She is up there when you ask Republicans at this very, very early point who they'd like to see as president, she's up there with Mitt Romney and she's up there with Mike Huckabee, but I don't think that in general this has anything to the Republican Party. I think it does something to Sarah Palin. I'm just not sure what it is right now.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Candy Crowley.


PILGRIM: Thanks, Candy. Now we will have much more on this breaking news story when we're joined by four of the nation's best political analysts later in the broadcast.

Well, a deal to allow the United States to ship weapons through Russia to Afghanistan could be announced soon. This agreement is expected to be signed during President Obama's upcoming trip to Russia. Dan Lothian reports from the White House. Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is really important because the United States has been ramping up its military operations in Afghanistan and in the past they could only fly in that air space only non lethal supplies, so what Russia is now saying that the U.S. will be allowed to not only fly their troops but also weapons across their territories into Afghanistan. You know, another critical step here in a relationship that the White House here certainly would like to see improved, the president believing that Russia can be a key partner in not only dealing with the nuclear issue in North Korea but also Iran.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think meeting with the prime minister ensures that he and Medvedev are hearing the same things and seeing the same things so that they can move in concert and cooperating with us on some critical issues.


LOTHIAN: So critical issues, one of them, no doubt they will be talking about as they make that announcement, this agreement of allowing the U.S. troops and weapons to fly over their territories but also, according to senior administration officials here at the White House, they will be talking about cutting nuclear armed stock. So a lot of important issues as the United States tried to -- tries to sort of reboot the relationship with Russia.

PILGRIM: You know this is quite a sea change. What are some of the issues that had caused the relationship between the United States and Russia to deteriorate in the past?

LOTHIAN: Well, one of them, recently this missile defense system that the United States wants to build in Russia's backyard and Poland that's something that the president -- Russian president has said he does not want, so that's been a sticking point -- also, the Russian- Georgian war of course. There were some disagreement there with the United States, so a couple of the big issues that still have yet to be resolved but certainly both sides are indicating here that they do want to work very diligently at improving relations because they think it's key to dealing with some of these neighbors, like Iran and certainly North Korea.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Dan Lothian. Thanks, Dan.

A large contingent of U.S. Marines and Afghan forces tonight continue their offensive in southern Afghanistan. Now the Marines are moving to drive Taliban forces from Helmand River Valley and make sure that the region is secure for the local population. Chris Lawrence reports from Washington.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kitty, the Marine there are in quote "one hell of a fight". In the city of Garbcia (ph) there have been intense battles. It gets very, very intense for a short amount of time and then it slacks off and then very, very intense again. On and off like that for hours at a time.

And the Marines there are dealing with some very, very tough conditions. It's 110 degrees. One Marine said it's like sticking your head into an oven. Several Marines have suffered heat exhaustion. One Marine has been killed. They've been in pitch battles there, but there's a tactical difference in how they are fighting this war.

They have used at least one bomb on a Taliban target but for the most part they are using fire from a 20-millimeter gun from their helicopter, even though that puts them at more risk because the helicopter has to fly low. There are anti-aircraft guns in that area. But this is all part of that new strategy to say we are willing to take more risks in order to ensure there are fewer Afghan casualties.

Another big difference, the Marines have now controlled this city of Kandahar. The people there in that city have not seen an Afghan government official in five years. It was completely overrun by the Taliban and run by the Taliban. Now the Afghan government and the Marines are there trying to reset up the government and the Marines are sleeping in the cities with the permission of the people.

That is different. They are not behind bases or big walls. They are trying to be there with the population to say we are here to listen to you and try to move that process forward -- Kitty?

PILGRIM: Chris, this is an extremely risky operation as you point out. It's also very large, isn't it?

LAWRENCE: Yeah. You're talking about 4,000 Marines were dropped into enemy territory for the most part in less than eight hours. That's one of the key differences -- The size of this operation and the speed at which it happened. A lot of the fighting in Afghanistan was done at the platoon levels, much, much smaller groups.

This is the brigade level, a massive show of force that some U.S. commanders say they just haven't had the manpower for. They've always been able to kick the Taliban out of some of the cities, but they had no power to stop them from coming right back in once they left. This time they're saying we're not only going in, we're going to stay.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Chris Lawrence. Thanks, Chris.

Still ahead, the latest on Michael Jackson -- new evidence that may point to the role of prescription drugs in the star's death.

Also, a very special Independence Day ahead for one of America's enduring icons, the Statue of Liberty, and rehearsals are under way at our nation's capital for tomorrow's celebration.



PILGRIM: The investigation into Michael Jackson's death continues tonight and there is a report of new evidence pointing to prescription drugs. Jackson was one of the most popular entertainers in the world but Tuesday only a fraction of those fans will be lucky enough to witness a memorial to the star in person. We have complete coverage tonight with Susan Roesgen and Don Lemon in Los Angeles and we begin with Don Lemon -- Don. DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening to you, Kitty. It is very interesting to hear the developments coming out of Los Angeles with the L.A. Police Department and also what The Associated Press is reporting, they are reporting that one source who is close to a law enforcement source or a law enforcement source, saying that Diprivan -- Diprivan, that powerful anesthetic that has been talked about so much when it comes to the Michael Jackson investigation that it had been found on Michael Jackson's property.

CNN is working to confirm all of those reports and to get our own sourcing on that. But we did speak with Cherilyn Lee, who is a former nutritionist for Michael Jackson who said that -- who claimed that Michael Jackson had begged her for that powerful anesthetic and she waived him off of it, saying that it was a dangerous drug and he might not want to take that drug.

Also, our Sanjay Gupta is reporting that sources close to Michael Jackson saying that back in the 1990's, during a world tour, that he traveled with an anesthesiologist who would take him down and then bring him back up -- take him down to sleep and then bring him back up when he needed to perform for that world tour. So there are lots of allegations and lots of questions here, Kitty, swirling around this Diprivan.

Now we also know, too, that the California state's attorney general is saying that they are involved in the case. They are checking into this. They are now working with the Los Angeles Police Department to try to come to some sort of a consensus on this -- the DEA also working with the Los Angeles Police Department on this story as well.

Again, this Diprivan is sold over the -- I shouldn't say over the counter -- the generic name of this Diprivan is propofol and it is distributed by AstraZeneca. Again, it is a powerful, powerful anesthetic and it is not supposed to be used as a sleep aid. That is a big development, Kitty, when it comes to the investigation, whether or not Michael Jackson did have Diprivan in his home and the toxicology reports we're still awaiting that to see if Diprivan was actually found in his system -- Kitty?

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Don Lemon.

Well, the memorial for Michael Jackson will take place Tuesday morning at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Susan Roesgen joins us now from outside the area with more -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Kitty when you said only a fraction of Michael Jackson's fans will be able to get in the memorial on Tuesday you are so right. Only 17,500 tickets will be given away. The tickets are free, but to get them Michael Jackson fans have to register online and there have been so many hits on the Staples Center Web site Kitty that already today the server has crashed at least once, maybe it will go down again.

So many people hoping to register and then from there will be a computerized random drawing at 6:00 tomorrow night for anyone who would maybe get one of those precious 17,500 tickets. The catch is that these are supposed to be free but who knows how many scalpers are going online now and the promoter of this memorial says these tickets are not supposed to be sold.


TIM LEIWEKE, PRES. & CEO, AEG ENTERTAINMENT: This is a memorial service. I'm hoping that people have dignity, I'm hoping that people understand we're trying to do the best we can to accommodate the worldwide demand of Michael's fans. We're hoping that no one takes advantage of this particular process and we're going to great lengths per request of the family to create a system that will allow us to get the tickets and the wrist bands in the hands of the fans. For those that would try to take advantage of this, shame on them.


ROESGEN: And shame on you if you try to come down here and you don't have a ticket or one of those magical wrist bands that says that you have got a ticket. The Los Angeles Police Department and other city officials and even the promoters there at the Staples Center are saying, if you don't have a ticket, stay away. Watch it on television instead -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Yeah, Susan, the city of Los Angeles already finds itself $400 million in the hole. How are they going to pay for something like this?

ROESGEN: You may not believe this, Kitty, but listen -- I talked to a city council woman who was at the news conference today and she said that the city of Los Angeles always budgets for unexpected events but only budgets for the police department. So she said the cops have enough money to cordon off this area and to do crowd control but she says the city doesn't have enough money for the sanitation, for the information technology, for communications, and, get this, Kitty, she said that she actually put a call in today to both the Reverend Al Sharpton and Michael Jackson's family basically saying, you tell me where I'm going to get the money and you tell me who I can ask for the money. We need money. It's your memorial. How are you going to pay for it? She told me Kitty that she has not had a return call.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much. Susan Roesgen. Thanks, Susan.

Coming up, how state budget cuts are putting lives at risk, we'll have a special report on that. Also, the nation's capital prepares for a spectacular Independence Day celebration.



PILGRIM: Many states across the country tonight face serious budget deficits. At least 10 states have no approved budget for the fiscal year that began July 1st and many states are now cutting local services. Local fire departments once immune are now having their budgets cut and many are concerned that those cuts could put lives at risk. Jeanne Meserve reports.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 47-year-old man died in this Flint, Michigan fire in April. The first firefighters on scene attempted a rescue but because of recent cutbacks didn't immediately have a pumper truck to douse the flames.

MARK KOVACH, FLINT FIREFIGHTER: If we had the water, potentially we could have made it up the stairs on the first (INAUDIBLE).

MESERVE: Last month in Alameda, California a firefighter was injured, his colleagues say because cut backs slowed the response. Officials in both Flint and Alameda dispute that budget decisions had a significant impact on these tragic events, but the Firefighters Union maintains that communities all across the country are playing Russian roulette by cutting fire services.

JEFF ZACK, INTL. ASSN. OF FIRE FIGHTERS: We are seeing firefighters furlough, laid off, cuts in pay, taking cuts in pay, cuts in benefits, stations are being closed. Stations are browned out.

MESERVE: In Atlanta, Georgia, this firehouse is one of five that have been shuttered. The Firefighters Union says the city has half the fire personnel it should.

JIM DAVIS, ATLANTA FIREFIGHTERS UNION: On any given day we'll have only 140 firefighters on duty in the city of Atlanta to protect a city with a daytime population well over 1.5 million, which is a national scandal.

MESERVE: A survey in January indicated six percent of cities have cut emergency services. Though the number has almost certainly grown, experts say emergency services are almost always the last thing on the chopping block.

CHRIS HOENE, NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES: The fact that you're seeing cities around the country making cuts to these services is evidence of the depth of the current recession.

MESERVE: Take Prince George's County, Maryland.

MARK BRADY, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, FD: We have to be fiscally responsible to the citizens and residents and do the job and provide the services that we need to provide the best that we can with the resources that we are provided with.

MESERVE: County officials say public safety is not being jeopardized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Currently there is no staffing at this station today.

MESERVE: But firefighters insist job and overtime cuts, furloughs and rotating station closures are increasing the risk to firefighters and the communities they serve. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody is home. Turn out the lights.

MESERVE (on camera): The Obama administration has imposed increasing grant money to pay for firefighting positions but as communities budgets get tighter and tighter, more are expected to cut emergency services which really can make the difference between life and death.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


PILGRIM: Some other American stories we're following tonight across the country -- more than 1,000 people were sworn in as American citizens today at one of the biggest tourist destinations. Now the new citizens took their oath in front of Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. Actor Andy Garcia gave the key note address and the new citizens also had a sneak peak at the latest edition to Disney's Hall of Presidents unveiled for the first time, the new animatronic Barack Obama.

Rehearsals are under way at this hour for the 29th annual concert on the National Mall. Actor Jimmy Smits will host the concert and headline performers this year are Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, and the National Symphony Orchestra. Now this concert will also feature the cast of the Broadway musical "Jersey Boys" and will be followed by spectacular fireworks.

Another national landmark will offer a better view on the Fourth. The crown of the Statue of Liberty will once again be open to the public. Small groups of tourists will be specially ticketed and escorted to the crown by a National Park ranger. The Statue of Liberty's crown had been closed after the attacks of September 11th.

On Coney Island, the build up to the 94th annual Nathan's hot dog eating contest is well under way and three elephants from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus easily routed three human challengers consuming more than 500 hot dog buns in six minutes.

Now, tomorrow California's Joey Chestnut will defend his title against Japan's Takeru Kobayashi, and both consumed 59 hot dogs last year before Joey Chestnut won in a sudden death round of the eating contest.

One Independence Day attraction could not hold up in the heat. Artist Troy Landwehr spent 40 hours carving a life sized statue of Abraham Lincoln out of 1,000-pound block of Wisconsin cheddar cheese. Unfortunately, the statue's head toppled off in the near 80-degree heat.

Still ahead, Jackson's talent undeniable but the worldwide response to his death raises the question -- have we gone too far in glorifying him? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PILGRIM: It has been a week and a day since Michael Jackson's sudden death and we look back now at the story that has dominated the airwaves and captured the world's attention.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening, everybody -- breaking news about Michael Jackson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a gentleman here that needs help and he has stopped breathing. If you can please...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on our way.

PILGRIM: Joining us now on the phone is Brian Oxman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The atmosphere here is so very sad and we are just stunned.

PILGRIM: Brian, you're a friend of his. Do you have knowledge of what kind of physical condition he was in?

BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY SPOKESMAN: This family has been trying for months and months and months to take care of Michael Jackson. The people who have surrounded him have been enabling him. If you think that the case of Anna Nicole Smith was an abuse, it is nothing in comparison to what we have seen taking place in Michael Jackson's life.

PILGRIM: CNN is confirming from the L.A. coroner that Michael Jackson is dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother, the legendary "King of Pop" Michael Jackson passed away on Thursday, June 25th, 2009, at 2:26 p.m.

PILGRIM: Tonight, troubling new questions over the circumstances of Michael Jackson's death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things you did release is that Mr. Jackson was taking prescription drugs at the time of his death. How do you know that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of information floating out there. The toxicology will confirm or disaffirm any types of drugs that might have been taken.

PILGRIM: Hundreds of Michael Jackson fans today lining Hollywood Boulevard to catch a glimpse of his star, the Walk of Fame, and fans worldwide are turning to his music.


LOU DOBBS, HOST: A Los Angeles judge has given temporary custody of Jackson's three children to his mother. Meanwhile, Jackson's father refusing to set a funeral date for the dead pop star until the results of a second private autopsy are known. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The autopsy and you need an honest (INAUDIBLE). We're waiting on second autopsy. We're waiting on that one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything Michael Jackson has been involved with over the past decade and a half has been a rancorous, complicated mess -- anything financial and anything personal.

PILGRIM: "Us Weekly" has uncovered new information on Jackson's final days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His schedule had changed and that might have contributed to his death. We actually speak to several sources who say that he was on stimulants as well as the other depressants that he was on and all of that had a very jarring effect.


PILGRIM: During his life, Jackson's music topped the charts and broke records, now in death he is topping the charts again.

Well, the intense focus on Michael Jackson raises a serious question, whether we are overly glorifying a talented, but deeply troubled man. And that's the subject of our "Face Off" debate, tonight.

So, joining us now "San Francisco Chronicle" reporter is Joe Garofoli say that we are deifying Jackson going down a very dangerous path.

David Caplan, senior editor of "People" magazine, who says we're just responding to genuine worldwide interest in Jackson.

Gentlemen, thanks for joining me. David, let's start with you first. I mean, we've just had a week of coverage, it's been a lot of coverage and yet you say that's what everyone wants.

DAVID CAPLAN, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: I mean, there has been a lot of coverage, but right now where we are in the news cycle of this story, the coverage is completely appropriate. It's a story that lends itself to incredible narrative. Every day there's a new, valid, justified turn in the story. This is not merely someone that just died. There are corporate proceedings, legal proceedings.

And also, if you look at what the story's about, the subject of the story is Michael Jackson, who's a celebrity and almost by definition, you know, regular people sort of think they always have a connection to celebrity. It's someone they know. I mean, 800,000 tickets were sold to his London concerts.

So, it's almost natural human interest. You want to know all the details about someone you know. So, the coverage is you know, incredible. Web sites, rating, all these things are up, and they're up for a reason. If people didn't want to watch it, they would go to another Web site or TV show.

PILGRIM: Joe, that's a competing argument. What do you say?

JOE GAROFOLI, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Well, as Jon Stewart says, he asked his audience what they'd want to see, they want to see a naked woman smoking crack, but that doesn't mean you have to put it on the air.

There is -- in "People" magazine, that's terrific, they entertainment magazines, the entertainment shows. What my concern is that it's sucking a lot of the national conversation up on the news channels, on the news programs.


GAROFOLI: I'm sorry?

PILGRIM: No, go ahead, Joe. Just finish your thought and then we'll respond.

GAROFOLI: I think that it's, yeah, he's an incredible entertainer, he was an incredible entertainer, but for the last decade or so, most of the entertainment he has provided has been tabloid entertainment. You know, his musical contributions have been minimal over that time.

CAPLAN: I don't think he's really sucking -- the landscape, Michael Jackson was part of our national landscape, just a different genre. And, again, this is a story that is sort of a news story that's percolating to the top among other genres.

Today, we say an example of how, in another story in another genre became -- took over the news, Sarah Palin, that emerged, that was a hot story, that percolated to the top. Maybe come Tuesday when Michael Jackson's funeral happens, of course we're going to see a lot of coverage. Between now and then, of course it will die down a little bit.

PILGRIM: You know, I'd like to bring up a poll that was just taken, it's a CNN opinion research poll, it's release today, and it really is split, 51 percent of people describe themselves as Jackson fans, 49 percent saying that they are not fans.

Joe, that's a lot of people.

GAROFOLI: It is a lot of people and I also saw Pew Research poll the other day that said 30 percent of the viewers are watching are closely following Michael Jackson's death. That's almost the same as many as followed the death of Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter and far fewer than followed the death of JFK, Jr. and way below Princess Di. So we may be overestimating the interest level here. Again, incredible entertainer, but as the president said, he left it as he admired him as an entertainer, not as something more than that.

CAPLAN: But, you know, in the case of that poll, the question really is, are you a fan? Not necessarily, again, do you know who Michael Jackson is. And I think when you talk about news, that's the inherent aspect, here, whether or not you like the subject or don't like the subject, the fact is, you know about Michael Jackson, so there's an inherent curiosity about the subject. So, I don't know if that poll really speaks necessarily to sort of the public's disdain or lack of interest in covering it.

And again, Michael Jackson, just because he wasn't a political figure, he was part of American pop culture, period. He is relevant.

PILGRIM: You know, I'd like to actually take this quote, because it is interesting and you bring up the whole Princess Di thing. and this is from Ray Richmond of "Michael Jackson's death is the most globally devastating and consequential celebrity passing since that of Princess Diana nearly a dozen years ago and surely the most axis-altering entertainment story since at least the dawn of the blog age, possibly even the internet age altogether." You have celebrity, entertainment and blogs and the new media, now certainly this is a new sort of platform to view a world event like this.

David, is this factoring in?

CAPLAN: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. You think of the blog, the proliferation and of course with the social networks like FaceBook and Twitter, you know, since this is a story that has really generated so much by the fans, having these social networks and the blogs is just -- it is helping increase our interest in the story. But again, it's just someone out there that everyone knows, it's not even reflected -- the reason news networks are covering it, mainstream newspaper, because he was part of our culture.


GAROFOLI: Well, I think that quote -- when I heard that I think that person should, the writer should spend a little bit of time at Michael Jackson's hyperbaric chamber for a little bit to get some oxygen.

I think that on Tuesday it will be one of the, watching the funeral, watching whatever the celebration is there of Michael Jackson's life will be one of those national, cultural moments where we all share, we watch it on whatever screen we have, our computer or TV or whatever. But then after that I think it's time America leaves Neverland and get back to talking about the issues that matter.

We're fighting two wars. Unemployment is at a record highs. We've got -- we're trying to have a debate about health care which affects every American and we need to stop talking about Michael Jackson. This is a story about his family, right now, and it's a personal story about what happened to the kids and that and it should be really confined to the entertainment pages of the newspapers and magazines and blogs and the news programs should go back to writing and reporting about news.

PILGRIM: Joe, you're saying, though, that the coverage of the memorial service and all of that should legitimately be covered, you know...

GAROFOLI: I think that's -- the interest of Michael Jackson is such that everybody should -- that will be one that everyone is going to be watching. I will be watching that and David I'm sure that you will, too, and I'm sure CNN and every kind of Web site will be there. And I think that's fine, there will be a nice moment of closure, but then after that, we should move on.

PILGRIM: David, last.

CAPLAN: I agree. I don't think after the memorial that it will die down, because again, this is a story that has many parts of narrative. There's legal issues, there's lawsuits, custody, the DEA is involved in this story, so just because of the nature of the story, it will continue.

PILGRIM: David Caplan and Joe Garofoli, thank you very much.

GARFOLI: Thank you.

CAPLAN: Thank you.

PILGRIM: Coming up, a surprise resignation. Alaska governor, Sarah Palin will step down, the reasons still unclear. Four of the best political analysts in the country are here, next.

And offering the unemployed a place to pray at city hall. Now, does it upset the separation of church and state?


PILGRIM: Michigan has been devastated by record high unemployment and now a church group in Warren, Michigan says it's giving solace to the unemployed through prayer and it has set up is a booth set up at city hall. That has sparked outrage from those who say that the prayer booth violates the separation of church and state. Ines Ferre reports.


INES FERRE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Residents of Warren, Michigan, who have lost jobs or have financial troubles can turn to god at this prayer booth right at city hall.

LINDA BLANKENSHIP, VOLUNTEER: It's prayer for our city, our city was -- is in trouble, you know, financially and stuff like that and we just want to pray for people that's in need and need.

FERRE: Three day as week, volunteers like Linda Blankenship gather at the booth offering prayer. Warren, Detroit's largest suburb, has an unemployment rate of at least 15 percent and a dying car industry. Warren's mayor says foreclosed homes in the area have doubled since last year. He adds that the prayer booth is a comfort to many.

MAYOR JIM FOUTS, WARREN MICHIGAN: And the prayer station, for some people, not everybody, provides a relief and a way for somebody to go and seek solace and be able to speak with someone that can help them satisfy their concerns and their inner problems that they have. FERRE: But Atheists and Agnostic groups, like Freedom from Religion, are outraged. They say the booth crosses the line between church and state.

REBECCA KRATZ, FREEDOM FROM RELIGION: It appears to be government endorsement of religion, which is -- does offend the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. Prayer doesn't belong on public property it should be on private property. There are more appropriate venues for a prayer station to take place.

FERRE: The city says that Tabernacle Church filled out an application for the space and the city doesn't turn away groups because of their religious beliefs. Since the church is nonprofit, it gets the space for free and hopes to expand to sidewalks, a gas station and maybe a community center.

Freedom from Religion says it's now looking at setting up its own booth right next the prayer booth, on the same days of operation.


FERRE: And as for the constitutionality of all this, legal experts say in past cases, courts have held that when a government owned building or property is made available to community groups, it cannot exclude any because of their religious beliefs. And Kitty, the church's pastor says that he's been contacted by other churches to set up similar booths in other areas, including other city halls.

PILGRIM: All right, thanks very much. Ines Ferre.

Coming up, the energy bill heads for the Senate, but what's in the bill may surprise you. And how Governor Sarah Palin's stunning decision to step down from office affects the 2012 presidential race.


PILGRIM: The House of Representatives narrowly passed the climate bill last week, but not before the last minute addition of 300 pages of amendments and it includes several controversial provisions including favors for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and layers of new bureaucracy. Louise Schiavone has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed.

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 1,400 pages, the climate bill narrowly passed by the House is this summer's more mind numbing reads.

REP JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: And I really hate to do this, but when you file a 300 page amendment at 3:09 a.m., the American people have a right to know what is in this bill and have a right to know what we're voting on.

SCHIAVONE: But when House Republican leader John Boehner tackled some of the fine print, he started to debate that promises to effect the climate bill's fate in the Senate this fall, including the creation of new bureaucracies to implement this very complex bill, provisions to force businesses to repay government loans with interest if they export operations overseas, new money for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide energy-efficient loans and an Energy Department study on consumer behavior.

BOEHNER: Do we really need to spend government money to do a study on why people don't want to pay twice the cost and get half the quality?

SCHIAVONE: The bill would also set higher tariffs on countries whose emissions don't match those of the U.S., like India and China. President Obama isn't happy about the potential trade complications.

MICHAEL WHATLEY, CONSUMER ENERGY ALLIANCE: They are certainly going to run afoul at the World Trade Organization and frankly, they are going to be NAFTA violations.

SCHIAVONE: But the president says the bill is an extraordinary first step and says it will cost the average American about the price of a postage stamp every day. Supporters in the House agree.

REP PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: The cost of inaction is great and lost opportunity for jobs, a cleaner environment, and a stronger economy.

SCHIAVONE: Next test, the Senate.

PROF PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND; The Senate, a more deliberative body, you only have to peel off about three Democrats and you can hold this thing up.

SCHIAVONE: In all, five Senate committees will tackle the bill.


Kitty, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is confident about the climate bill, his spokesman telling CNN "We will write a good bill that can get 60 votes" -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks so much Louise Schiavone. Thanks, Louise.

Well, joining me now, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, and Ed also served as White House political director under President Ronald Reagan. And CNN contributor and columnist for the "New York Daily News," Errol Louis. Political analyst and "Huffington Post" contributor, Keli Goff. And syndicated columnist and CNN contributor, Miguel Perez.

And thank you for joining us. We must discuss Sarah Palin, the real surprise of the week. Ed, your thoughts on especially the timing on this.

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, the timing is suspicious and you never have a press conference which you raise more questions than you answer. If she's going to quit being governor, she should have done it several months from now. If she's going to run for president, she should have done it at the end of the term. I think she's done nothing but basically hurt herself by this.

PILGRIM: Let's listen to a comment she made sort of explaining what she was trying to do, I'm not sure it answers all the questions. Let's listen.


SARAH PALIN (R), FMR GOV ALASKA: I'm determined to take the right path for Alaska, even though it is unconventional and it's not so comfortable. With this announcement that I'm not seeking re- election, I determined that it's best to transfer the authority to Lieutenant Governor Parnell.


PILGRIM: All right. This was just part of a very long, very sort of a rambling -- I think that's really the only word for the press conference, today. Keli, your thoughts on this?

KELI GOFF, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's funny, I thought after reading the "Vanity Fair" piece, which, by the way, I have to say, Todd Purdum is such an excellent writer, I'd actually lost my glasses and I couldn't help myself, I held my nose to my computer screen on my laptop just to finish the 10,000 word thing.

But, I thought things couldn't get any tawdrier or anymore scandalous, but the whole Sarah Palin story this week and goes and she proves us wrong. I mean, I think that Ed is 100 percent right, this is not the way to get taken seriously. And especially the Friday before a holiday weekend, we all know there's a reason celebrities announce divorces on Friday nights and candidates announce bad news, there's something else very suspicious, here.

PILGRIM: Yeah. And it also -- I mean, it gives you really quite a bit of time to actually discuss it in the absence of other news -- Errol.

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well, that's right. And I think, though, that she's doing something that a lot of other governors who want to stay politically viable may be considering, which is getting out of the limelight.

This is a very unpopular time to be a governor of any state. And from New Jersey to California to Illinois, I mean, there's hardly a state where there isn't a shutdown of government looming, furloughs, layoffs, the piece earlier in this show about emergency services being cut back. If she wants to stay politically viable, she had to get out of the spotlight at some point. This is a pretty awkward way to make that conclusion.

PILGRIM: It is. Miguel, you're shaking your head.

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is a puzzle that has a lot of missing pieces that we are still yet to discover. I really -- you know, the tone of her voice, the way she delivered the speech, the way she rambled; there's something that we still don't know about this. Her whole argument about how she might be better for the state of Alaska outside of the governor itself, that doesn't make sense to anybody. I thought the governor's office was the highest office you can get in any state.

PILGRIM: You know, I think unscripted is really what it was, today. And she made a few illusions to personal reasons. Let's listen to a quick clip of one of them.


PALIN: This is political absurdity, the politics, the personal destruction. Todd and I, we're looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills, just in order to set the record straight.


PILGRIM: At a certain point, you can't blame her for saying enough is enough, Ed, but do you think that's it?

ROLLINS: In reality, she's gone out and raised a lot of money to pay for her legal fees and she's got political pack put together and there's a lot of people who have been willing to contribute to her. The bottom line is any of the controversy that's come has come because of her behavior.

This is, again, going to raise serious questions about her behavior. And there's one very thin line. You want to be a candidate of hope, you want to be a candidate of competence. You don't want to be a candidate who's viewed at a kook. And the problem is that this is starting to pile on. Equally as important, it hurts this party that she wants to go out and help. We had Terry -- Mark Sanford last week, we had John Ensign the week before and this is a third body blow that we've gotten in a row. And that certainly doesn't help us.

GOFF: I also think it's worth noting that one of the points in the "Vanity Fair" piece was the fact that a lot of national strategists had a tough time -- she had a hard time keeping staff on the national level because people were unable to work with her local communications people. I think that this is a perfect example of possibly why, because she has some very, very bad advice, I think, on how this was handled today. And I thought it was very telling that I think there were three national GOP strategists who said that they left because they simply couldn't work with her local communications person back in Alaska. Today is a perfect example of that.

LOUIS: It's a reminder, actually, of the time she got phone pranked, her communications people put a couple of radio talk show hosts through to her immediately and they got into a very embarrassing, ridiculous kind of a situation. And there -- in larger states with more sophisticated or more experienced staff, that just doesn't happen.

GOFF: OK, can I say something to that. What concerns me, as a woman, really quickly, is I think this perception that perhaps she's quitting and this perception that she doesn't have the skin that you need to hang tough when you're getting bows an and arrows, that's how -- that's the name of the game in politics and I think that there's a concern that that could be the perception...

PILGRIM: Although, Keli, we didn't put those words in her mouth. I mean, you heard the clip, right?

GOFF: I did.

PEREZ: She saying, lame duck, she doesn't want to be a lame duck. That's her excuse? I mean, imagine if every other governor or every other elected official quit in the middle of her term. She was elected to prove that she can lead. This is how she gets re-elected if she wants to run again. She had to stick it out, do better, as a governor, before she can prove to the country that she can be a president.

PILGRIM: In your mind it's political suicide?

PEREZ: It's suicidal, yes.

PILGRIM: Is that your opinion?

ROLLINS: Absolutely. Equally as important, if she wanted to go out and campaign for candidate, she could announce in January of 2010, I'm not going to run for re-election, she could have left the state the last two months, campaigning, begin the next year running for president. She has basically put a gun at her head and finished her career off.

PILGRIM: Do you see this as a positive?

LOUIS: Well, I would think that as somebody who can command top rates for speaking and she's very much in demand, and I think will continue to be, at what $40,000 - $50,000 a speech, maybe she can do that five or 10 times a month. I think she'll have a war chest and some viability and a base to work from.

ROLLINS: Can't use that money for political campaigns, that's personal money and at the end of the day, you know, she will diminish as time goes on. Her portfolio was McCain picked her to be the VP, and she was governor of the state. It will diminish over time.

PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much, Miguel Perez, Keli Goff, Errol Louis, and then Miguel Perez, Thank you. As the top of the hour, Anderson coopers filling in for Campbell Brown.

Anderson, what's coming up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Kitty, we are in the Los Angeles where there are new developments in the Michael Jackson investigation to tell you about.

Also, a CNN exclusive Colin Powell's new warning for President Obama. Also our mash-up of the day's most important news includes the latest in the big U.S. offensive in Afghanistan. And we're looking at the most under reported stories of the week, what you've missed may surprise you -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: All right, thanks very much, Anderson.

Up next, "Heroes." Tonight, the story of Army Specialist Eric George, a brave soldier who comes from a long, distinguished line of military service.


PILGRIM: Now, "Heroes," it's our tribute to the men and women who service this country in uniform. Now, this Independence Day weekend, we introduce you to Army Specialist Eric George. Specialist George works with a bomb-sniffing dog to keep his fellow soldiers safe. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroism and for saving lives while in Iraq. And as we discovered, heroism and patriotism runs deep in Specialist George's family history.


(voice-over): When searching for explosives or weapons hidden for insurgents, a specialized search dog handler must rely on instinct to make split second decisions. Decisions that can have an immediate impact on the lives of fellow soldiers.

SPEC ERICK GEORGE, U.S. ARMY: We work very independently as dog handlers and our unit has to put a great deal of trust and faith in us to go out and act on our own. There's quite a great deal of responsibility in telling you you're the commander of that you feel confident that there is or is not explosives in a certain area.

PILGRIM: Specialist Eric George is a veteran handler. He mentors younger soldiers from the experience he gained in Baghdad while working with a bomb sniffing dog named Diego.

GEORGE: The biggest thing I try telling the new handlers and to get then to understand is to trust their instincts.

PILGRIM: Specialist George and Diego made many finds while supporting more than 65 combat missions and 30 forded protection missions. In one particularly notable case, they uncovered a large safe with a cache of weapons, explosives and information that prevented a deadly ambush. For this and other efforts, Specialist George was awarded a meritorious Bronze Star.

GEORGE: We found several items that could have caused great harm to U.S. soldiers and several propaganda videos saying that they were planning to attack the unit that I was attached to very soon, so that was my proudest moment in Iraq, I would say.

PILGRIM: Specialist George shared his proud moment with his father, Don, who pinned his son with the Bronze Star. DON GEORGE, FATERH: The honor my wife and I shared of being able to pin the Bronze Star on our son was just phenomenal; it just culminated a year of trials and tribulations of up and downs, of lows and highs.

PILGRIM: In the George family, military service is a tradition. Don George, served in the Army during Vietnam. Don's father received the Silver Star and five Bronze Stars for his heroism at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

D GEORGE: Our regiment was with the main Army under General George Washington.

PILGRIM: An ancestor by the name of William severed with another famous George at Valley Forge. General George Washington. Letters written in 1777 or 1778, passed down though generations, document his experiences in the Revolutionary War.

GEORGE: Considering the odds of the Revolutionary War, you know, a few colonies going against, you know, Britain, that's quite a stand to take. I'm glad I got that blood in me. That's for sure.


PILGRIM: Now, Specialist George is a member of the only engineering canine company in the U.S. Army. He is just one of 15 handlers in the Engineer Crops to receive a Bronze Star and he hopes to soon take advantage of the GI bill. And Diego is in the process of being discharged from the Army. Specialist George hopes to adopt him, soon. We wish them both the very, very best and a very happy Independence Day.

A reminder to join Lou on the radio Monday through Friday, for the LOU DOBBS SHOW, that's 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio in New York. And go to to find the local listings for the LOU DOBBS SHOW on the radio.

You can follow Lou on Twitter, also, at LouDobbsNews.

Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here on this Independence Day weekend, we would like to wish you the very best. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend. Good night from New York and now Anderson Cooper.