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President Bush to Capitol Hill: Tries to Save Immigration Bill; State Farm Suit

Aired June 12, 2007 - 06:59   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Power lunch. President Bush's critical meeting with GOP members of the Senate today. Can he bring a controversial immigration bill back to life?

Plus, a river runs through it. Heavy rains drown neighborhoods in the heartland, closing roads and cutting off firefighters from a burning home. New storms now on the move on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: And thanks so much for joining us on this Tuesday. It's June 12th.

I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

Some stories "On Our Radar" this morning.

New polls overnight in the presidential race. Hillary Clinton continues to hold a big lead.. There appears to be one big factor behind her success. And Fred Thompson making a new impact now in one poll, jumping into the number two position.

CHETRY: Yes, John McCain's camp must certainly be looking at that poll this morning.

Also, freedom denied for the teen that was sent to prison over a consensual sex act. His name, Genarlow Wilson. He's been in prison for two years now. Even though many people have called this a miscarriage of justice, he still is in jail this morning, even though a judge yesterday ordered him released.

What is going on with his case? Well, we're going to find out, because we have his lawyer with us live in just about 30 minutes.

ROBERTS: Plus, take a look at this. Fight night. Fans go wild at a soccer game. Went to a soccer game -- went to a fight, and a soccer game broke out. More of those hard-hitting pictures coming up in just a few minutes.

We start this morning though on Capitol Hill. President Bush makes a rare trip there today to attempt to revive the immigration bill. He'll join Senate Republicans at a policy lunch. Last time he did that was five years ago.

Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill this morning with a preview.

Dana, you probably heard Tony Snow just a couple of minutes ago. He's pretty confident this thing is going to get passed. But if the president hopes to get it passed, he's got some pretty heavy lifting to do.


The reality is, John, that the president just doesn't have the kind of influence, political influence, he used to have with his own party here. And that is the political reality he's going to be walking into when he enters that private lunch this afternoon with Republicans, because nothing, nothing comes close to an example of how much the president's influence is waning than immigration, because immigration really divides his party. And conservatives just think he's flat wrong on the idea of wanting to give legal status to illegal immigrants.

And what you used to see, remember, is Republicans really worried about the fallout from bucking the president. Now the political reality is that Republicans are trying very hard to show their independence from the president. Nowhere do you see that more than on immigration.

ROBERTS: Yes, they know that he's not going to be running for reelection in 2008, but a lot of them are.

He'd have to come up with 15 votes there in the Senate and probably 60 to 70 in the House.

Are those votes even there to be had?

BASH: You know, that was something that was really interesting that we heard from the top Republican in the Senate yesterday. He said, look, there just aren't any undecideds on the issue of immigration right now. And that is the problem for the president.

You said only seven Republicans voted for the procedural measure last week that would have kept this bill alive. So, what the problem -- the president's problem is that this is really a tug-of-war, a procedural tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats as to how many chances that opponents of this immigration bill really get on the Senate floor to try to change it. That's not necessarily something that the president can really affect here.

ROBERTS: So what's the consensus? Are we hearing the faint sound of quacking coming from the White House?

BASH: It is entirely possible that that faint sound is getting louder and louder as the president moves down Pennsylvania Avenue this afternoon.

ROBERTS: All right.

Dana Bash up on the Hill.


And coming up in about 10 minutes' time, we're going to talk with one of the Republicans the president needs to win over today and likely won't. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama joins us.

And next hour, one of the architects of the plan, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, will be here.

CHETRY: Well, voters sent a clear signal back in November. They are sending another one now. Congress' approval rating the lowest in a decade.

Take a look at this. It's the new "L.A. Times"-Bloomberg poll saying that only 27 percent of Americans, only about a quarter of them, think Congress is doing a good job. That's compared to 36 percent back in January.

As for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, well, she's only at a 36 percent approval rating. Newt Gingrich back in 1994 had 46 percent.

The reason for the plunge, most voters say they were promised a change, especially when it comes to Iraq, but have so far gotten business as usual.

Well, there's a "no" on the no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, despite the backing of seven Republicans. That non-binding resolution never made to the Senate floor last night. Republicans were able to block it in a procedural vote.

If it had passed, it still wouldn't have had any legal weight. Democrats though were hoping that it would push Gonzales to resign. Republicans call it a political stunt.

ROBERTS: The prosecutor is the Scooter Libby case filed papers early this morning asking the judge to send Libby to jail pending his appeal. Libby has been sentenced to up to 30 months in prison. His lawyers say he should be free while he appeals his conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald though says Libby's appeal is not likely to result in his conviction being overturned. And in that case, the law says he should make that case from behind bars.

CHETRY: Well, the state of Georgia is now fighting a judge's order to release Genarlow Wilson, the man at a heart of controversial case. Wilson' mother celebrated yesterday when the judge voided the 10-year sentence, calling it cruel and unusual.

He was serving that sentence after being found guilty of a consensual sex act with a 15-year-old when he was 17. But the state prevented Wilson from being released while the appeals take place. Wilson's attorney called it a cruel game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) B.J. BERNSTEIN, WILSON'S ATTORNEY: The truth is this is wrong. There's just nothing right about this. There is nothing right about this.

I don't know who's pulling the strings here. I don't know -- understand why smarter heads can't prevail, why people consistently have said keep this kid a convicted felon, ruin his life on a sex offender registry. And now the games are continuing.


CHETRY: Well, the law that ended up getting him behind bars was later changed, partly because of that unusually long sentence that Wilson received. His lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, will be joining us live in about a half hour.

ROBERTS: Well, some news from the campaign trail this morning.

Fred Thompson is sending a shock wave through the Republican presidential race this morning. Check out this new poll from the "Los Angeles Times" and Bloomberg. The former senator from Tennessee leapt into second place behind Rudy Giuliani. Twenty-one percent of voters say they will give the nod to the former "Law & Order" star. Thompson is still not an official candidate, but is expected to get into the race in just a few weeks' time.

Bad news there for John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Meantime, Thompson aides are striking up new talks to possibly have their boss take part in the Iowa Straw Poll this August. The contest was expected to be an easy win for Mitt Romney after John McCain and Rudy Giuliani pulled out of it. The Straw Poll is an early but very unscientific indicator of which candidates Iowans like for president.

On the Democratic side of the coin, Hillary Clinton continues to hold a big lead over her closest competitor, Barack Obama. Thirty- three percent of voters in the "Times"-Bloomberg poll like Clinton. That compares to 22 percent for Obama.

Al Gore is not even a candidate but now holds the third spot over John Edwards. There with 15 percent.

As for Hillary Clinton's success in the polls, analysts say she can thank one group of voters, women. Today's "Washington Post" says twice as many women in a recent survey favor Clinton over Barack Obama. Her core supporters are lower-income, less-educated women. Higher-income, more-educated women actually break for Barack Obama.

But the numbers overall could mean good things for Hillary Clinton come primary season, because back in 2004, women made up the majority of Democratic primary voters.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: Coming up to 12 minutes after the hour now. A Vatican visit tops your "Quick Hits".

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet with Pope Benedict XVI before he steps down later this month. The trip is fueling speculation that Blair may convert from the Anglican to the Roman Catholic faith once he leaves office. His wife Cherie is Catholic.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson makes a big campaign problem to Los Angeles. He says he's going to help end traffic headaches. The Democratic contender for the White House says he wants to build a light rail system to help untangle the mess along L.A.'s freeways. He says mass transit is the best and cleanest way to get the city moving.

And New York City should get ready for a major hurricane, according to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Experts say New York is due for a major hurricane, and if one hits, it could cause $100 billion in damages and displace some three million residents.

CHETRY: There's a rescue mission under way right now in Bangladesh. Mudslides triggered by monsoon rains burying bamboo and straw shacks. More than 100 people have been killed, 11 of them struck by lightning. Forecasters are saying that more than eight inches of rain fell in just three hours, flooding some of these areas with four feet of water.

And flooding a major problem in this country today. Parts of Oklahoma under water. Dozens of people in the town of Dewey had to leave their homes, with water rising in some spots four feet. Firefighters had to deal with one flooded home that was engulfed in flames.

It sounds like a bit ironic in that situation. They couldn't get to the flames because of the massive water around them.

Thirteen minutes past the hour now. And Chad Myers is out. We have Reynolds Wolf with us today.


ROBERTS: Senator Hillary Clinton is turning her attention to New York City's airports. She wants a broad investigation into a series of near misses last month. She says aviation safety should be a top priority.

And YouTube is stepping up copyright protection. The video sharing company owned by Google and says it will soon start testing a so-called fingerprinting tool to help studios identify video that has been uploaded to the site illegally. That will allow the company to decide whether to remove the clips or keep them up.

A new fight in the name of Hurricane Katrina victims. Mississippi set to haul State Farm Insurance into court for backing out of a deal worth millions of dollars.

The story when AMERICAN MORNING continues.


CHETRY: It's the case of the $54 million pants. And it still continues this morning.

Some "Quick Hits" for you now.


ROBERTS: It's coming up now to 19 minutes after the hour.

President Bush is going to Capitol Hill today to fight for his immigration bill. He's having lunch with the Senate Republicans who rejected the compromise immigration proposal last week. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is one of the senators that the president will need to win over today.

He is live on Capitol Hill and joins us now.

Senator Sessions, good to see you.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Good morning, John.

ROBERTS: So what can the president expect when he comes up there to talk to you today at that policy lunch?

SESSIONS: I think he's going to hear a different perspective. I hope and believe he'll listen some. But I think what he'll fundamentally hear is that we are not against immigration or immigration reform.

But this bill is flawed fatally. It has many, many major fundamental problems that just a few amendments won't fix.

For example, everyone that's here virtually will be given a permanent legal status. The enforcement promises are not going to happen because this Congressional Budget Office has reported it will result in only a 25 percent reduction of illegality at the border, but there will be an increase in illegality that results from overstaying these multiple visas that will be given for the temporary workers.


SESSIONS: So no gain on enforcement.

ROBERTS: And certainly the complaint of a lot of people who are opposed to this bill.

The president yesterday in Bulgaria seemed pretty confident that he was going to get his wish. Take a quick listen to what he said, and then I want to ask you a question about it.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We made two steps forward on immigration, we took a step back, and now I'm going to work with those who are focused on getting an immigration bill done and start taking some steps forward again. I believe we can get it done.

I'll see you at the bill signing.


ROBERTS: "I'll see you at the bill signing." That's a pretty bold statement.

Can he move many people? He needs to get 15 more votes.

SESSIONS: I don't know. You know, I'm sure they're wheeling and dealing right now, but we need to do this thing right. Just to pass a bill for the sake of passing a bill that he hasn't had time to read and study like some of us have, I think if he knew more of what was in it, he would understand it does not meet his own principles that he set forth for a good bill.

ROBERTS: Does he still, Senator Sessions, have the political capital to get this done? Or is he approaching or has actually approached lame duck status?

SESSIONS: Well, of course, it's late in his term, but I think his real problem is the fact that many, many senators are concerned about the legislation itself. Just a vote for him is not the question.

Do we want to vote for a bill that promises enforcement in the future, and like 1986 it never occurs? I think that's what people are worried about. And we need a better piece of legislation, frankly.

ROBERTS: Is it a political risk for Republicans to deny the leader of their party a piece of legislation that he really wants? Does it not make him and therefore the party look even weaker?

SESSIONS: Frankly, I think the president is wrong to push this piece of legislation so hard after we've demonstrated the flaws that are in it. He needs to back off.

They always say this is the only chance to pass this bill. Well, of course that's not true. We can do that again in the future, and we can write a better bill. And he needs to help us write a better bill and not push a bill that so many of us can't support.

ROBERTS: Pretty strong words.

Hey, I've got one more question to ask you.

You suggested after Alberto Gonzales' appearance up on Capitol Hill that it might be time for him to step down. Yesterday you voted against this motion of non-confidence, but I wanted to ask you again, do you still think that Alberto Gonzales should step down as attorney general? SESSIONS: Well, you know what I said was that he had bungled this United States attorney matter pretty badly. I didn't -- I wasn't pleased with that.

He's not an experienced person in the Department of Justice. He's new to it. But the president has -- he's been confirmed. He is the president's choice.

He's not done anything to be impeached by or removed from office by the Congress. And going through this no-confidence resolution was basically a political stunt, in my view, and I couldn't support that.

ROBERTS: All right. But you don't think he should step down, or you do?

SESSIONS: I haven't -- I called on the president and he to really talk about it between themselves as to whether or not this would be good for the Department of Justice for him to stay. I had my doubts, but they made up their mind, and we need to go on and make this department the best department we can.

ROBERTS: All right.

Well, back to the immigration bill, if what you say is a widely- held position, it doesn't sound like the president is going to change many minds.

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Thanks for being with us. Always good to see you.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: And next hour, one of the architects of the plan, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, will be joining us -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Twenty-three past the hour now. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".

And they thought they had a deal, but it looks like Mississippi and the insurance company State Farm could end up back in court.


Back in January -- you k now, this is all about that wind versus water debate. A lot of people thought they had insurance policies that covered them for hurricanes, and the insurance companies drew out distinctions between whether that damage was done by wind or water.

Well, back in January, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood dropped State Farm from a lawsuit against several insurance companies. That was after State Farm agreed to a $50 million pay-out to some 36,000 Mississippi policy holders. Well, Jim Hood wasn't involved in that negotiation. He didn't love it, but he thought it was a good settlement.

It didn't get past a judge. A judge had said this is not a good deal and struck that deal down.

State Farm subsequently made another deal with Mississippi's insurance commissioner which was largely the same as that first deal, except that it wasn't going to be governed by a court. It didn't have court oversight.

Well, Jim Hood, the attorney general in Mississippi, didn't like that. He is reintroducing his case against State Farm. He's going to take them to court, and he also says that he could reintroduce a criminal investigation into them about whether or not they were fraudulent in denying claims to policyholders.

Now, State Farm, for its part, says they've already paid out $10 million under the new deal. And a spokesperson for State Farm has said that he thinks that Jim Hood, the attorney general, is more interested in making headlines in an election year than in making headway for the people of Mississippi.

The sad part here, as you know, Kiran, is there are people -- for whatever reason, there are people who are still living in trailers who have not had their pay-outs and who can't get on with their lives. One of the allegations is that the longer this draws out, the more likely you are to say, fine, give me what you say you're going to give me, at least so I can move on with my life.

CHETRY: Right. All right. Well, keep us posted.

VELSHI: We are on this one, yes.

CHETRY: Thanks, Ali.

ROBERTS: Twenty-five after the hour. Some "Quick Hits" for you now.



ROBERTS: There's the lovely shot this morning looking right down the canyon of Broadway here in New York City and what's shaping up to be a beautiful, beautiful day.

CHETRY: That's right. And that's about as good as it's going to get traffic-wise if you're navigating the streets of Manhattan this morning.

ROBERTS: Yes. Now is the time to be driving around.

CHETRY: How about that? And all those taxicabs. A little bit later you're going to be helping the taxicab challenge on the show take off.

ROBERTS: Yes. We -- yesterday we brought in a cab driver who drives a regular gasoline-powered vehicle -- a regular gas-powered vehicle and a hybrid vehicle. We sent them out on their appointed rounds, and we'll have them back today to find out which one spent more money on gasoline, which one is getting better gas mileage, and whether or not Mayor Bloomberg's edict for all of the cabs in New York City to be hybrid by the year 2012 is a good idea.

Hey, welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It is Tuesday, the 12th of June.

I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.

We're also going to be talking in just a couple of minutes to the attorney who is representing a man who at the time when he was 17 years old was convicted of a consensual sex act with a girl two years younger. He is still behind bars. He's been serving out a very long sentence, even though time after time many have called this unfair and, in fact, Georgia law changed because of this case. Yet, he's still behind bars this morning.

And what is going on with that case? We're going to find out when we talk to Genarlow Wilson's attorney in just a couple of minutes.

ROBERTS: You've probably heard the story of the young woman -- she was a track athlete from Staten Island who used some muscle rub because obviously she had some aches and pains. And she died from an overdose of methyl salicylate, which is the active ingredient in Bengay and many other of those sports balms. We're going to be talking with her mother this morning about how this possibly could have happened and what her mother thinks should happen in the wake of her daughter's death, just a tragic situation.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: It really is and you would never think that that would happen to you. You think I'm just rubbing it on my body like a lotion. We're going to talk to her mother.

We start off right now with the immigration bill and a late inning effort that's going on by President Bush to try to save it, resurrect it if you will. He's going to be meeting on Capitol Hill today with a group of GOP senators, an uphill battle, it would appear but earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow speaking to me said they're pretty confident.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What now is going to happen, we think, is that Senate Republicans are going to get together on a series of amendments. They're going to present them to Harry Reid who has given us to believe that he'll go ahead and permit that debate after they finish debating an energy bill which comes up today. If that is the case, we're confident it's going to pass.


CHETRY: Confident it's going to pass. Is everybody that confident? Coming up at the top of the hour, one of the architects of the immigration plan, Republican Senator Jon Kyl will join us to talk about it.

ROBERTS: More immigration problems to report to you this morning. They are supposed to protect the border but some National Guardsmen were busted for doing just the opposite. Three Guardsmen from Texas were charged yesterday with smuggling 24 people across the border, Guardsmen smuggling people. They allegedly made several trips in uniform pocketing up to $2,000 per passenger. They were stationed on the border to back up border patrols as part of operation jump start.

And for the second time in as many days, insurgents have hit a bridge in Iraq. This morning they bombed one on a highway south of Baghdad. Word is that there are no injuries and the bridge was not badly damaged. Yesterday insurgents bombed an overpass, collapsing it and killing three U.S. soldiers who were manning a checkpoint underneath it.

Afghani officials this morning say U.S. troops killed seven Afghan policemen in an apparent case of friendly fire. Those officials tell the Associated Press that the police were under attack by the Taliban and fired on the Americans when they came to help. U.S. troops returned fire killing the policemen. This all happened in the dark last night in the northeastern Afghanistan border, near its border with Pakistan.

CHETRY: The state of Georgia is fighting a judge's order to release Genarlow Wilson, the man at the heart of a controversial case. Wilson was sentenced to 10 years for having consensual sex with a 15- year-old when he was 17. Wilson's mother celebrated yesterday when the judge voided that 10-year sentence. Our Rick Sanchez was there. Here's a look at what happened.



RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He's out? Read us what it says. Can you read it to us?

BERNSTEIN: Writ of habeas corpus is granted. The sentence is void.

SANCHEZ: The sentence is void. That means he's --


CHETRY: All right. That was Wilson's lawyer BJ Bernstein reacting to the judge's order before they found out that the state would appeal. Bernstein joins me live now from Atlanta. Thanks so much for being with us. Sure it was a long day for you yesterday so we appreciate it.

BERNSTEIN: Very emotional day and very difficult especially later in the day when I had to tell Genarlow because he had heard through the media that word had already gotten through the jail that he was going to be released and then I had to have a phone call with him and tell him, no, he was spending more time in jail even though an order said he should get out.

CHETRY: What happened? If the sentence was voided, why would he still behind bars?

BERNSTEIN: Because the attorney general's office has filed a notice of appeal which puts a stop to the release and we're now having to ask for bond pending appeal. We've asked the attorney general's office. We were directed to go to the original district attorney, David McDade in Douglas County, Georgia. We have filed for bond there. Yesterday they did not consent to a bond and we are hopeful to get -- hurry up and get in front of a judge, one to get him out pending appeal, but even more importantly to get this madness over.

CHETRY: Why is it, it's just puzzling for anybody that hears the case. Why are they so insistent, including the Georgia district attorney to keep going with this even though they've changed the law since because this was clearly an example where it overreached?

BERNSTEIN: That's a good question and I hope that somehow we get an answer and try to figure out what's going on or what about their background, you know, wants them to keep this. But we got one clue in the attorney general's press release yesterday where they were talking about some plea offers over the weekend and you know, what it sounds like is we want you to do what the district attorney says as opposed to doing what the courts and common sense and the Georgia legislature says.

CHETRY: They want you guys to plea for time served. Why don't you want to do that?

BERNSTEIN: Well, because it's not just time served. It's a felony. The offer was over 15 years of probation with first offender treatment which means eventually after 15 years, he wouldn't be a convicted felon but in the meantime, this kid would be supervised and subject to conditions of probation. So, again, that's even more crazy when yesterday we had a judge clearly say and the Georgia legislature if this party happened now, no more than 12 months in jail, no sex offender registry. Basically you've got this mechanical, you know, saying that prosecutors are always right. But we've learned from cases recently that that's just not always the case.

CHETRY: And BJ, let me ask you about this, because this all stemmed back from that incident that took place new year's eve back in 2003 and he was convicted for having consensual oral sex with a 15- year-old. There was another charge though, a rape of a 17-year-old girl at the party that prosecutors said was too drunk to consent, but he was acquitted of that charge. Is that one of the reasons why they've pushed so hard with the other charge?

BERNSTEIN: It sounds like that's the case except for we live in a system and where if a jury speaks, remember, the jury saw this videotape. We don't live in a world where it's what the prosecutor says, it's what the courts and the juries say. They said he's not guilty. They've tried to say because the other boys entered pleas as you just mentioned on the case that Genarlow should get the same thing, but my answer back is those boys didn't have anybody fighting for them. Genarlow Wilson chose to fight and thank goodness he did because he changed the law so this cannot happen to any other teenagers in the state of Georgia and so it's finally, you know, now there's just still trying to get a pound of flesh out of Genarlow.

CHETRY: And I have to ask you this. It's been two years in prison. This was somebody who had a very high GPA and was a football player, somebody that Ivy League schools were looking at as possibly recruiting. Is this all over for him when he gets out, two years of being in prison? Is he going to be a changed man forever?

BERNSTEIN: I think he's certainly going to be changed but fortunately Genarlow has been taking his time in prison and reading like crazy. He's read every Harry Potter book. He loves mysteries. He just finished Barack Obama's book, "The Purpose Driven Life." He's read and really thought it out. I think what this has done, the only good news is changing his direction. He wants to speak out to young people about realizing that when you party and carry on, you've got consequences, sometimes greater than you realize. So I think because his extraordinary personality, he'll be OK, but I don't want this to happen to any other kids. It's crazy.

CHETRY: Keep us posted on the outcome of these other hearings that are coming up. BJ Bernstein, attorney for Genarlow Wilson, thank you.

ROBERTS: Thirty seven minutes now after the hour. A new court filing in the Scooter Libby case tops our quick hits now. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald filed papers early this morning asking the judge to send Libby to jail pending his appeal. Libby wants to stay free while he appeals his conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Fitzgerald cites laws saying that Libby must go to jail unless it seems likely that his conviction will be overturned.

The army missed its recruiting goal last month by about 400. It's the first significant slip in two years. The active duty army though does remain on track for its goal of 80,000 recruits for the entire year.

Death by an over-the-counter sports cream. Coming up we'll talk live to the mother of a teen who died after using too much Bengay. Her plea straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is here on CNN.


CHETRY: Early retirement topping your quick hits now, the border inspector who ignored the warning to stop globe trotting TB patient Andrew Speaker at the U.S. Canadian border no longer works at the U.S. customs and border protection agency. The 18-year veterans was under investigation on administrative leave. Speaker as you know had a dangerous form of tuberculosis. In fact, his passport was flagged. He was not to return to the country.

It's not very often that you hear about an iguana attack or maybe it is. We just don't hear about it. But a man says a two-foot-long iguana came out of nowhere and then scratched him on the arm in Chicago this weekend. Animal control officers caught the lizard and took him away. Where he went, Reynolds, I have no idea.

There is something that you won't see at your local red lobster, actually definitely won't see it in many places. It's a blue lobster. A Connecticut man caught this rare blue lobster. They say the color's actually a genetic mutation caused by an extra protein.

A couple of weeks ago you may remember this lobster. This was the half black, half red lobster that was captured off of Newport, Rhode Island. So I don't know what's going on. I wonder if they all taste as good.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I would imagine so. I mean just a big pot of water and some drawn butter and life is good for everyone.

CHETRY: They're not going to do that to blue boy though, because he's amazing. They're going to keep that one.

WOLF: That's true.

CHETRY: Forty two past the hour right now and we're talking about continual hit for the central plains. They're dealing with flooding this morning.

WOLF: It's been a rough time in parts of Oklahoma, not only in Oklahoma, but also into Missouri. It's just been a mind numbing time for them. The rain continues to fall. Let's start off in the Oklahoma state, the Sooner state, here we go, zooming in just north of Tulsa and east of Dewey, Oklahoma, a few cells are popping up. Now let's zoom our way back over to Missouri, as we do so, lit up like a Christmas tree just north of Pittsburg, Kansas and back over to Springfield. The rain continues to fall and should fall throughout much of the midday hours. But even when the rain begins to dissipate later on, they're still going to be dealing with all that runoff and more flooding.

Southward we go on I-75 from Atlanta. You can see there all the way to the Florida border we're seeing some scattered showers and storms. Some of these this morning especially near Albany, even waking up with the windows ratting from all the booms of thunder. That should continue also for the next couple of hours.

Let's take a look across the nation show you what you can expect. If you happen to be in San Francisco, a beautiful day out by pier 39 with 73 degrees out at the Cotton Bowl of Dallas, 91. It's going to be very warm for you in Memphis by Mud Island southward into the French quarter, New Orleans, 91, Atlanta. If you're going to take a walk around Piedmont Park, get ready for the mugginess around 88 degrees under partly cloudy skies and chance of scattered showers. That's the latest on your forecast across the nation. More coming up throughout the morning.

CHETRY: Reynolds thanks.

ROBERTS: Forty four minutes after the hour now. It's a tragedy and a medical mystery, 17-year-old track star Arielle Newman died in her sleep back in April and a medical examiner says she was killed after using the over the counter muscle cream Bengay. Alice-Lynn Newman is Arielle's mother. She says Bengay should be taken off the market. Alice-Lynn Newman joins me now. First of all Alice-Lynn, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. I just can't imagine coping with the loss of a child. Tell me a little bit about your daughter.

ALICE-LYNN NEWMAN, DAUGHTER DIED AFTER USING BENGAY: My daughter was very motivated. She had a lot of energy. She had a funny -- great sense of humor. She was a great student. She was very popular with her friends.

ROBERTS: She was really aggressive out on the track.

NEWMAN: She was. She wanted to win those races and she did win them most of the time.

ROBERTS: She really wanted to be a star athlete, no question about that. This is the product that she was using, ultra strength Bengay. How much was she using, do you know?

NEWMAN: I talked to her teammates about a month ago and her track coach and he said she didn't use it anymore than anybody else. He's seen of the students track athletes at meets and they've been slathering it up. But she used it in moderation.

ROBERTS: The medical examiner's office said she was applying it to her legs between meets also used adhesive pads containing methyl salicylate (ph) and an unspecified third product. Do you know what that product is?

NEWMAN: First I want to address the pads. I called the medical examiner's office and spoke to the spokeswoman two days ago and she said she did not say that. That was not in quotes and her name is Ellen Berkof (ph) and also the pads do not contain methyl salicylate.

ROBERTS: So the maker of Bengay which is Johnson & Johnson said that it's been on the market since 1898. It's safe and effective when used as directed. And the direction say, because I got the tube right here, apply three to four times a day. And it says consult a doctor if the condition worsens or if symptoms persist more than seven days suggesting that you probably shouldn't use it more than seven days. What do you say about their statement that this is safe and effective and the cautions?

NEWMAN: Well, three to four times a day. My daughter came home from school at 5:00 p.m. and she went to bed at 11, so between 5 and 11 she wasn't putting it on four times. I didn't smell it in the house. All athletes use it for every sport. I mean they use it, it's just like a routine. You do it before your race or after you swim or whatever.

ROBERTS: Somehow she was just absorbing too much.

NEWMAN: I think that was the problem. She was absorbing it too much, too fast or she wasn't -- it wasn't leaving her body as it should. ROBERTS: Any ideas why?

NEWMAN: No. I don't know the answer to that question.

ROBERTS: So what do you want to see happen here? What's your caution to other parents out there?

NEWMAN: Well, I think by telling people she used it in excess is not helping anybody because she didn't use it in excess and this happened to her. People think I don't use it in excess so I'm fine and that's not true because she used it in moderation. I lived with her. I smell it on her. I did her laundry.

ROBERTS: What do you want to see happen?

NEWMAN: I think that it should be given by prescription so limited amounts are given out, limited amounts at a time so if someone is using it too much, it's monitored by a physician.

ROBERTS: Definitely a wake-up call for anybody who's using these sports creams. Alice-Lynn Newman, thanks very much again for coming in and again our sincerest condolences for what must just be a terrible tragedy for your family. Appreciate it.

CHETRY: A plea from the families of shooting victims at Virginia Tech topping our quick hits now. Parents demanding a greater role in the panel that is studying the massacre. They're also questioning the group's willingness to criticize the university's actions. They want to select an investigator to serve on the panel for them. The chairman of the panel rejected that idea saying it needs to be quote totally objective and not driven by emotion.

Attorneys for DC area sniper John Allen Muhammad (ph) say they'll be appealing his convictions in Montgomery County, Maryland. They claim that he never should have been allowed to conduct his own murder defense. Muhammad and accomplice Lee Boyd Malveaux were convicted of six first degree murder counts in those 2002 sniper shootings.

Michael Moore, he's getting mad and he's picking a new shot at the government today. Worried the Feds might try to seize a chunk of his new film "Sicko." Details ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Michael Moore has made another documentary and found himself embroiled in yet another controversy. This time the film maker takes on the U.S. health care system, but it's not the insurance companies that are firing back. It could be actually the U.S. government. AMERICAN MORNING's Lola Ogunnaike is here to explain. Good morning.


CHETRY: "Sicko" which is really railing on the U.S. health care system.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, his documentary, his latest target is the pharmaceutical companies.

CHETRY: Is he being paranoid when he says now that the Feds are after him.

OGUNNAIKE: Well, he's saying that they're looking into whether or not his trip to Guantanamo Bay which is featured in his new film "Sicko" could have violated the U.S. trade embargo banning all travel to Cuba.

CHETRY: Let's take a listen actually to a bit of the film when he does go down to Guantanamo Bay.


MICHAEL MOORE: Permission to enter. I have three 9/11 rescue workers. They just want some medical attention, the same kind that the evildoers are getting. Hello.


CHETRY: Was that just a stunt? He was just doing that to try to prove a point?

OGUNNAIKE: You know Michael Moore loves his stunts and he loves to ambush people. I think he was trying to prove a point. The point he was trying to make is you have these detainees in Guantanamo Bay that in his mind are receiving far better care than the people in 9/11 who are sick now as a result of the injuries that they sustained rescuing people down at the site of 9/11.

CHETRY: This trip caught the government's attention because of that. What do they want to do?

OGUNNAIKE: He's worried that they might actually try and confiscate the movie. He's so worried in fact that he has sent a copy overseas and it's in a secret location. He is not playing around with this at all and he's very, very scared that this could -- sorry -- destroy what he has worked for.

CHETRY: Now also he really went after the insurance company in this and they had a whole battle plan.


CHETRY: To counter what he said. What happened there?

OGUNNAIKE: He actually didn't really go after them. They were waiting. They were ready for the battle. They had memos. They had work forces altogether and he didn't come. He said, look, the pharmaceutical company opinion is out there all the time. I'm interested in the health care system and its fundamental problem. But yeah, they had things like compliment him on his weight loss. Talk to him about Detroit --

CHETRY: He lost weight. OGUNNAIKE: He's lost a few pounds in fact and he's saying look, if I'm going to talk about health care I got to deal with my own problems first, got to be the messenger

CHETRY: All right. Lola, thanks so much.

ROBERTS: Fifty three minutes after the hour now. Opie and Anthony (ph) will soon be back on the bird (ph). Your quick hits. The shock jocks will resume live shows on XM satellite radio on Friday. They were suspended for a month after a guest described a rape fantasy that involved Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush.

A new postage stamp is going to honor the late President Gerald Ford. The 41-cent stamp will be issued on August 31st. President Ford died back in December. The commemorative design was unveiled on Monday at the annual Ford Foundation dinner in Washington.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, prison break. Now the man accused of plotting to kidnap David Letterman's son is on the run. So far, no sign of the suspect. What is Letterman saying about this and are he and his family safe? Find out next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Fifty seven minutes now after the hour. Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business." I'm trying to convince my daughter that this is the car for her when she gets a car.


ROBERTS: But she's not buying it yet.

CHETRY: He says he needs bigger wheels and he may consider it.

VELSHI: Toyota needs - it took them 10 years. They introduced the Prius in 1997. It took them 10 years to sell a million of them and now they say they want to sell a million hybrid cars, not a million Prius, a million hybrid cars a year. So they might be listening and they make take your advice on this one John. Toyota has six hybrids in its model lineups now. These include Toyotas and Lexus. They had initially said that by 2010, they want to have the hybrid gas option on almost all of their vehicles. They're now saying that's not the case. They want to double the number of models that they have hybrid gas engines in to 12. But they want to be by, you know, by sometime in the next few years selling a million of these vehicles a year. Gas today, national average, $3.06 a gallon. Of course, that prompts people to think about these things.

ROBERTS: When you look at those numbers, 61 miles in the city?

VELSHI: It's incredible. And I've driven a number of these. They do feel great. You know, they're fun to drive. In fact, a lot of people in New York have driven them. I guess sometime in the next hour, we're going to be giving you part two of our taxi challenge that we introduced our viewers to yesterday to see how one taxi driver who drives a normal gas engine competes with another one who drives a hybrid gas vehicle. So we're going to bring you that and see who fared better after a day of hard slogging in New York.

ROBERTS: This hybrid, actually a Lexus, but that's a division of Toyota.

VELSHI: Honda's got them, Nissan's got them and they've all got them, but Toyota is definitely a leader in this one. So we'll tell you about that.

ROBERTS: Ali, looking forward to you. Thank you. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

CHETRY: Executive sales pitch. President Bush determined to push a controversial immigration plan through the Senate against long odds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real question is, do you want to address the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is flawed fatally.


CHETRY: Plus, road test, the results of our taxicab challenge. Will the hybrid roll over its gas powered competitor when it comes to saving on this AMERICAN MORNING.

A big question on this Tuesday, June 12th. Thanks for being with us. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

Other stories on our radar this morning, David Letterman not laughing at a jailbreak out in Montana. The man accused of plotting to kidnap his son still on the run this morning Alina Cho is going to be live outside David Letterman's studio with a closer look coming up.

CHETRY: Also, there's an urgent rescue mission that's going on right now overseas, a bad monsoon triggering mudslides.