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American Morning

Price of Oil Closed to a $100 a Barrel; Exclusive Interview Turned Into a Walkout; Former Press Secretary Drops a Political Bombshell on the White House; It's Planes, Trains and Automobiles For Millions of Americans

Aired November 21, 2007 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Doctor drama.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: And we now welcome to "LARRY KING LIVE," Doctor Jan Adams.

ANNOUNCER: The doctor who operated on Kanye West's mother storms off the air.

KING: Don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?


ANNOUNCER: Why he did it and what happened behind the scenes.

Insider's bombshell. The president's former press secretary speaks out and turns against the boss.

Plus, cruch time. First flight was cancelled. The second flight's been delayed.

ANNOUNCER: Long lines. Stormy weather. Flyer frustration. We've got you covered across the country on your way grandmother's house, on this AMERICAN MORNING

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you on this Wednesday the 21st of November, the day before Thanksgiving and what a day it's going to be. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kiran Chetry. You just got to think, you know what? I'm getting to the turkey. It may take me awhile but I'm getting there. Well, good morning and welcome to the busiest or one of the busiest travel days of the year where 38 million Americans are going to travel more than 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving and the high gas prices not enough to keep people off the roads.

Checking the CNN gas gauge right now. The average price for a gallon of self-serve regular up to $3.09, according to AAA. Drivers in California paying the most, Missouri right now with the cheapest prices. And that price could keep going up. There are fears about the U.S. economy driving the price of oil dangerously close to $100 a barrel yet again.

Trading during the day set a new high, $99.29 before closing in New York at a record of $98.03 a barrel overnight. In Asia, oil is going for more than $98.60 a barrel -- John?

ROBERTS: Well, as oil flirts with $100, no matter where you're traveling today or how, we've got you covered across the country and do we have you covered.

Ed Lavandera is at Denver International Airport, Allan Chernoff at La Guardia, Susan Roesgen at O'Hare in Chicago, Alina Cho inside the FAA's command center in Virginia, and Rob Marciano at his usual post down there in Atlanta tracking the weather for you. And there are a lot of weather problems today that you're going to want to know about.

Let's start with Ed Lavandera. He's halfway through at travel adventure from Los Angeles to New York for Thanksgiving.

Ed, how is the first leg of your trip and how is it looking there at DIA?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, John, the first leg wasn't too bad. We were only about 30 minutes delayed flying in from Los Angeles to Denver yesterday afternoon. We did see that there were a handful of flights that were delayed leaving Los Angeles yesterday morning, but all in all a pretty good day of traveling.

Of course, this will be the true test. We're here in Denver because this is one of the airports in the country that has the worst reputation for the longest security lines, and the longest amount of wait time to get through those security lines, which will be something that thousands of passengers come through here today will have to be facing.

Airport officials here say they're going to great lengths to try to speed that process along. They're adding several lanes and the TSA says all of those stations will be better manned. But up to two months ago, there were several passengers that experienced delays of up to 45 minutes getting through security.

So that's one of the things we'll be looking at closely here this morning -- John?

ROBERTS: So, Ed, it's now 4:00 in the morning there and already things are starting to get a little bit hustling and bustling there so we'll talk to you a little bit later on -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Thanks a lot, John. Well, Rob Marciano is at our weather update desk with your travel forecast, a look ahead to Thanksgiving. So if the long lines don't get you, will the weather complicate things if you're flying?

Hey, Rob, hopefully not.


We're looking at a number of things. First off, across parts of northern New England, we're seeing some rain, mixed in with snow, could see some areas of patchy black ice from time to time, and then there's an area that's really the bigger story, which is stretching now in through Chicago and through parts of Michigan, back through Missouri, and even stretching in through eastern Kansas.

This is a developing storm that is going to be slowly migrating off to the east. And as that happens, it's going to be taking some rainfall with it. There could even be some thunderstorms embedded with this action and then also as it moves off to the east, all this white is some colder air that will be sliding in behind it.

So what do you think we got? We've got a snow advisory in effect for Chicago beginning later on this afternoon between 5:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

You know, we had some snow last night in New Hampshire, in Connecticut, and in through parts of Massachusetts, one to three inches of snow falling in some of those areas, enough to do some damage on the roadway. So, this was just a quick burst that came through New England yesterday, and as you could see, especially this time of year, the first snowfall of the season, it doesn't take much to do a little bit of damage on the roadways there. And Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania right now, all is clear.

We'll give you live shots from different cities throughout the next couple of hours. Back to you guys in New York.

CHETRY: And Rob, of course, Chicago, a big connector hub. Are they talking about delays yet even though it's only 5:00 a.m. there?

MARCIANO: Not yet, but no doubt they've got some delayed programs that will go into effect once the airport does open up because of the weather and the volume that is expected today.

CHETRY: All right.

MARCIANO: So Chicago certainly could be one of the trouble spots.

CHETRY: Keep that in mind if you are traveling through Chicago today.

Thanks, Rob.

By the way, if you're one of the millions in the airports this morning, we do want to hear from you. Please send us your I-Reports, your pictures, videos, even e-mails. Is you're flight delayed? Is it cancelled? Is there some rough weather where you're trying to travel to?

Tell us what's going on. The e-mail address, We'll be reading them throughout the morning -- John? ROBERTS: Also in this morning, words like milestone and breakthrough in headlines across the country to describe a medical advance on stem cells. Two teams of scientists say that they have found a way to take adult skin cells and turn them into the basic building blocks of every cell in the body. Until now, that has only been possible by using human embryos. Controversial because many people claim that process destroys life.

Does this end the debate over embryonic stem cell research and how does this new process hold the promise of curing diseases like diabetes and Parkinson's?

We'll talk about the impact of this advance for your health coming up on our next hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Sparks are flying this morning between Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Mrs. Clinton attacked the Illinois senator for suggesting that he has better foreign policy experience and judgment because he lived overseas when he was a child. Obama fired back questioning Clinton's foreign policy credentials.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Probably the strongest experience that I have is -- in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With all due respect, I don't think living in a foreign country between the ages of 6 and 10 is foreign policy experience.

OBAMA: She's met with all these world leaders, and I, you know, I was wondering which world leader told her to -- that we needed to invade Iraq?


ROBERTS: The (INAUDIBLE) is also drawing the attention of another rival, John Edwards. He said, quote, "When it comes to mud, Hillary Clinton says one thing and throws another."

We'll have the latest on the Clinton-Obama slugfest in just a few minutes. Our CNN political analyst John Dickerson is going to be joining us live.

And Obama talked about his past drug use before a group of high school students from Manchester, New Hampshire. During a speech yesterday, he addressed the issue saying that he was hardly a model student.


OBAMA: There were times where I, you know, got into drinking and experimented with drugs. And you know, there was a whole stretch of time when I didn't really apply myself a lot. And it wasn't until I got out of college, or got out of high school and went to college that I started realizing, man, I've wasted a lot of time.


ROBERTS: Obama has written about his drug use in his memoirs "Dreams from My Father." He was in Manchester to pitch his $18 billion education plan. He also said Oprah would be campaigning for him in Iowa and New Hampshire.

We'll see if that makes a difference for him -- Kiran?

CHETRY: And to Washington now, an explosive new accusations from former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. In an excerpt from his book, McClellan claims the president as well as Vice President Cheney were involved in his unknowingly passing on false information about Karl Rove and Scooter Libby's role in leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.

Now at the time McClellan said that neither of the two senior aides were involved in that Plame leak.

CNN's Jessica Yellin has been following this story for us this morning. She joins us now live from the White House.

And Jessica, we're going to first go back to 2003 when McClellan was asked at a White House briefing about top officials being involved in the leaking of Plame's name.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They're good individuals. They're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved.


CHETRY: How is the White House responding to these allegation this is morning, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, this morning the White House is saying the president has not and would not ask his spokesperson to lie on his behalf or to pass on false information is the way they put it.

Now they're referring again to that statement you just played from McClellan in which he writes in his upcoming book that there was one problem with that statement: it was not true. He also writes in the book, according to his publisher, that among those who were involved in prompting him to give that statement were five people, including the president, the vice president, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and chief of staff Andy Card.

Now, all of this, of course, raises questions, again, about what President Bush knew about the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name and when he knew it. Today, Valerie Plame, that CIA agent, tells CNN in a statement that, quote, "I'm outraged to learn the former Press Secretary Scott McClellan confirms he was sent out to leak to the press corps about White House officials," Rove and Libby, "who deliberately and recklessly revealed my identify as a covert CIA operative.

Now I should underscore that Scott McClellan appeared on "LARRY KING LIVE" earlier this year and in that appearance, he gave a slightly more nuanced accounting of what happened saying, basically, that both he and the president were misled, indicating that President Bush didn't even know that Rove and Libby were not involved when he prompted McClellan to go out and talk to the press in that way.

Bottom line, this book comes out next April and so far, McClellan is not speaking to the press about what it says -- Kiran?

CHETRY: A lot of people are wishing he would so that they could get more clarification about it.

Jessica, thanks so much -- John?

ROBERTS: And now at 10 minutes after the hour, an exclusive interview turned into a walkout last night on "LARRY KING LIVE." Viewers had expected to hear from Doctor Jan Adams. He's the plastic surgeon who operated on hip-hop star Kanye West's mother the day before she died. But instead Adams walked out on live TV saying that the family had asked him not to talk.


ADAMS: What I really want to say is I want to thank you for this opportunity, basically, I had come here to talk about things in the press that aren't accurate about me. But I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the West family and they've asked me not to go on.

And I've said from the very beginning, I don't have a side in this. They are my side and so I'm going to respect their wishes. And I'm going to apologize to you because I think I'm taking up your airtime. But I will not be on the show and I will not discuss any of that. I'm going to honor their wishes, OK?

KING: Meaning you won't answer any questions about anything?

ADAMS: None. None.

KING: All right. Then how will you ever answer question? I mean what -- where does this go?

ADAMS: Well, I will talk with them...

KING: I'm not going to mention Mrs. West.

ADAMS: I will talk with them. When they're comfortable, then I'll be comfortable. If they're never comfortable then I'll never be comfortable. They are what's important to me, I said that from the start and that's what I'll continue to honor.

KING: Then just a few things. Having nothing to do with them, don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No. I do not.

KING: All right. But you came here to speak out.

ADAMS: That's correct. But I'm going to honor their wishes.


ROBERTS: Well, Adams walked but the show did go on with an expert panel including our own Lola Ogunnaike. After it was over, Larry talked about the bizarre incident with CNN's John Kent.


KING: I've had everything happen to me in 50 years except that.


ROBERTS: Except that. Made Larry King history last night. And Larry's going to join us a little later on AMERICAN MORNING. We also got a behind-the-scenes look from Lola in just a few minutes time.

You've got to wonder what it was that prompted Doctor Adams to not speak because he'd given that lengthy to the "Los Angeles Times" earlier today.

CHETRY: That's right. Actually, going as far as to list -- in his opinion, three possible causes of death and then clamming up when he was going to do his live appearance. We'll be talking more with Lola about that in the next block.

Meanwhile, a potential medical tragedy reportedly involving the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is saying that a preventable error occurred and that three patients, all of them babies, were given an overdose of blood thinner 1,000 times the dose they should have gotten.

The Web site is reporting that two of them were Quaid's twins who were born two weeks ago. TMZ says the babies are in stable condition in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

And we are watching for you the rows and the airports. Here's a live look right now coming in to us from WSVN in Miami. We're going to be getting live reports and updates throughout the morning as one of the busiest travel days of the year is starting to get under way.

People headed for the Thanksgiving holiday and probably have to deal with some weather and long lines at the airports. We're going to have the most news in the morning when we come back here on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: Today's "Weather Update" brought to you back...


ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes after the hour and a live picture inside O'Hare Airport there as lines begin to build at the security checkpoint. Not too bad right now and so far everything, according to the FAA, is green across the board. But you can expect that there are going to be some delays as the day progresses because there's a lot of bad weather across the country and we'll keep you updated on all of that.

It is a huge travel day and we want to do whatever we can to try to help you get from here to there today so all morning long we're going to be featuring our holiday travel alert guide. It's going to show up here on the left side of your screen. It's going to tell you where there are airport delays. It will tell you just how far you need to go to get to where you want to be, if that makes any sense.

And also on the bottom of the screen here, we're going to have a five-day travel forecast for the city that you're traveling to. So stay with us all morning there and we'll try to do whatever we can to get you where you need to be today.

And that brings us to our "Quick Vote" question of the morning. What drives you nuts about traveling today? Cast your vote at We'll have the first tally of votes coming up later on in this hour -- Kiran?

CHETRY: All right. There should be an "all of the above" column, too.

Well, he's been broadcasting for 50 years and he says this is a first, a guest walking off the set during a live interview. Now, Larry King has an exclusive with the plastic surgeon who operated on Kanye West's mother before she died. But minutes after Doctor Jan Adams showed up, he left. Take a look.


KING: Will you ever answer questions? I mean what -- where does this go?

ADAM: Well, I will talk with them.

KING: I'm not going to mention Mrs. West.

ADAMS: I will talk with them. When they're comfortable, then I'll be comfortable. If they're never comfortable, then I'll never be comfortable. They are what's important to me. I said that from the start and that's what I'll continue to honor.

KING: Then just a few things. Having nothing to do with them, don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No, I do not.

KING: All right, but you came here to speak out?

ADAMS: That's correct, but I'm going to honor their wishes.

KING: OK. We'll bring our panel...


CHETRY: Yes. It really was a riveting moment of live television. What happened after that, what led up to that, well, we're lucky to have our Lola Ogunnaike here because she was there. She was part of the panel that was going to be discussing this because you've spent time with Kanye and his mother.

What happened leading up to it? Because I think it was 15 minutes before Larry King was set to go on live and everyone still thought it was a go.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Everyone did think it was a go. We were initially brought in because we thought that we would have, you know, the opportunity to fill time up because his flight was landing at about 8:00 something. They weren't sure if he was going to make it to the show.

CHETRY: Right.

OGUNNAIKE: So we were there just in case to hold down the floor. It turns out they needed us a lot longer than we thought we were going to be on because, as you saw, he walked off stage.

CHETRY: Now, when he first sat down after this back and forth, apparently, there was a letter sent from Kanye West's family attorney telling him not to appear.


CHETRY: And that if he did appear, they would try to take steps to get his license revoked. So, there was this back and forth as he was deciding. When he finally sat down, did everyone think the interview was going to happen at that point?

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, yes. We thought it was a done deal there. When he sat down, we were all in the green room just watching and we were all stunned just like the rest of America when he walked off stage. We had no idea that was going to happen and then Larry's people came back in the green room, dragged us all back out there and said, "You now, we're flying by the seat of our pants here, people, we don't -- I don't know how this is going to unfold.

And Doctor Jan Adams was watching the show from the wings actually so he was there the entire time. He's didn't leave. CHETRY: No hard feelings on his part. It was that he just -- what do you think it was that made him change his mind? The reason I asked that is the day before he gave an extensive interview in the "L.A. Times," in fact, going as far as to listing possible causes of her death.

OGUNNAIKE: Well, that's what's so interesting. He's spoken to "L.A. Times," hes spoken to the "L.A. Times." He's spoken to "People" magazine. He's spoken to TMZ extensively so we don't actually know.

I think this letter really spooked him and he decided, "Look, I do not want to play around with the West family." They're obviously very upset about this. Two sets of lawyers spoke to him about this from the West side of the family so clearly he thought it's in my best interests just to keep my mouth shut.

CHETRY: Before we go, quickly, did you -- did he give you any nuggets? I know you talked to him backstage afterwards?

OGUNNAIKE: I spoke with him backstage after the show and I asked him why? You know, "You squandered this perfect opportunity here to clear your name? " And he said it wasn't the perfect opportunity. I have the medical board all over me, I have two sets of lawyers all over me, this was not the perfect opportunity.

But he did make it clear, he's been -- this is a quote, "That was great television." So he's quite the character.

CHETRY: Wow. All right. I don't know if everyone agreed. I'm sure they would like to hear from him a little bit longer.

OGUNNAIKE: Yep, I would have.

CHETRY: Yes. Well, Lola, great job.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

CHETRY: And Larry was cool as a cumber as well in there, I believe.

OGUNNAIKE: Cool under pressure. Cool under pressure.

CHETRY: He's under pressure. Don't quite know who it was great for but.

CHETRY: Right.

ROBERTS: Storms in the middle of the country end up in New England. Lines forming at airports were inside the FAA's command center. Trying to juggle it all, keeping track of all those planes in the air.

Our ALina CHo is there and we'll have a live report coming right up on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Twenty-three minutes after the hour now and people just outside of the main terminal there at La Guardia airport, coming out of their cabs, their rides to the airport there, getting set to get on those airplanes, and get out a dodge.

So far no delays at La Guardia to report but you know that airport, somebody sneezes and there's enough moisture in that sneeze just to cause the runways to get a little bit clogged. So we're going to keep you updated all morning, all throughout this morning on all of the travel delays and see if we can't get you where you need to be today.

Coming up, our "Hot Shot" of the morning here. A table full of confiscated items from passengers at Newark Airport in New Jersey. You could see bottles of water there, wine, knives, a replica gun and there at the bottom of the picture you can even see a pool cue.

No pool cues on the aircraft. If you've got to fly with a pool cue, store it in your check bags.

CHETRY: Well, that sounds that family's going to have a lot more fun at Thanksgiving than we are. I don't know what the heck they're doing but.

ROBERTS: I think there was more than one bag there. And if you've got a "Hot Shot.' The address is Be sure to include your name, where you're from, a little bit about the picture or video, and more thing make sure the image is yours and not someone else's.

CHETRY: And it is 24 minutes past the hour now. We have Gerri Willis in for Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" today. And we got hit with a lot of not-so-good news, including the sky-high price of oil and how it's filtering over the gas prices.

GERI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's talk about housing. The numbers that came out from the Commerce Department yesterday starts of single family homes, a 16-year low last month. Overall it starts to edge higher permits fell to levels not seen since 1993.

Now that's important because it's forward-looking. Just so you'll see what homebuilders what to do in the future. Apparently, they don't want to do a whole lot. So not god news.

Also, we heard from Freddie Mac saying they had a huge loss and they were seeking liquidity. Now that means they need some capital, they need some money, and the market relies on them as a government- sponsored entity to fuel the market with liquidity.

If this company is in trouble, one of the biggest lenders in the country, you got to think the housing market is just not doing as well.

CHETRY: This is also a typically slow time of year for housing market as well anyway, right? WILLIS: That's right. Right. And the comparisons, though, are year over year so, I mean, I wish I had better news but I don't. Obviously the housing market is lagging. Of course, the Federal Reserve came out yesterday and said that they expect growth to slow even further.

Now, there might be one ray of sunshine in there, maybe the fed will cut rates again. And that would be great news for folks in adjustable rate mortgages who are looking for any kind of help they get to pay the monthly mortgage.

ROBERTS: But it would be bad news for the dollar and there's already enough bad news with that.

Well, you know, all of these things cut many ways and have unintended effects sometimes.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, Gerri, wish she had some better news for us this morning.

WILLIS: Me, too.

ROBERTS: Thanks. We'll see you soon.

Inside the FAA command center on this busy travel day before Thanksgiving, plus the other top stories of the day, we'll have that when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back. Stay with us.


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. This is a shot this morning from Newark Liberty Airport, and, of course, the busy highway leading there as well, and right now, it's 46 degrees, cloudy, shaping up to be 56 degrees. We're not dealing with any fog here at Newark and so far no delays, if that is your destination airport or the airport where you're going to be flying out of today. That comes to us from WABC by the way.

ROBERTS: Try to get out early if you can go today.

CHETRY: Yes. Hopefully, those delays start to stack up, you can get out before that happens.

Welcome back. It is Wednesday, November 21st. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And good morning to you on this day before Thanksgiving. I'm John Roberts.

New this morning the price of oil close to $100 a barrel. Oil set a new record during the day trading at $99.29, closing in New York at $98.03. That's a new high. The price driven up by concerns about short oil supplies, the Fed warning about the U.S. economy slowing down, and the falling dollar.

President Bush is standing behind Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. He tells ABC News that Musharraf believes in democracy. But the Pakistani president would lose Washington's confidence if he holds elections under a state of emergency.

President Bush says he feels comfortable right that Pakistan nuclear weapons are secure. Heads are rolling in Britain this morning after computer discs go missing, containing the personal banking information on 25 million people. The two discs disappeared back in October. The Head of the Revenue and Customs Service has resigned over this. Though police say there's no sign that the data has fallen into criminal hands.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: An exclusive interview turned into a walkout on last night's "Larry King Live." Viewers were expecting to hear from Dr. Jan Adams, the plastic surgeon who operated on Donda West, Kanye West's mother, before she died. But Adams walked out of the live TV interview, saying that the family had asked him not to talk.


DR. JAN ADAMS, OPERATED ON DONDA WEST: I really want to say is I want to thank you for this opportunity. Basically, I had come here to talk about things in the press that aren't accurate about me. But I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the West family and they've asked me not to go on and I said from the very beginning, I don't have a side in this. They are my side, and so I'm going to respect their wishes. And I'm going to apologize to you, because I think I'm taking up your air time, but I will not be on the show and I will not discuss any of that. I'm going to honor their wishes. OK?

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE" HOST: Meaning you won't answer any questions about anything?

ADAMS: None.

KING: All right, then how will -- will you ever answer questions? I mean, what, where does this go?

ADAMS: Well, I will talk with them when they're comfortable, then I'll be comfortable. If they're never comfortable, then I'll never be comfortable. They are what's important to me. I said that from the start and that's what I'll continue to honor.

KING: Then, just a few things having nothing to do with them, don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to?

ADAMS: No, I do not.

KING: All right, but you came here to speak out?

ADAMS: That's correct. But I'm going to honor their wishes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: And that was it. He was gone. We're going to talk with Larry in our next hour and also Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us at the top of the hour as well with more.


ROBERTS: 32 minutes after the hour. It is one of the busiest travel days of the year. People are using planes, trains and automobiles to get to where they have to go for Thanksgiving. Flyer frustrations with airport delays are not keeping people out of the skies. And many of the 38 million Americans, who are traveling, at least 50 miles from home, are taking the train and for those of you who are driving, you're going to be dealing with heavy traffic and high gasoline prices.

According to the AAA, the average price per gallon of self-serve regular is $3.09 today. Our Alina Cho is at a fascinating place. The FAA Command Center in Herndon, Virginia is ground zero for managing all of the thousands of planes in the air, this morning. How is it going there so far, Alina? It looks pretty good. You know, I was checking on the internet, didn't see any delays. What are you hearing there? You're in the nerve center?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, so far so good. Still pretty quiet but it's certainly going to pick up. It's going to be a very busy day today. Keep in mind that the U.S. has the largest and most complex aviation system in the world and what you're looking at right here really are the brains of the operation. The men and women here oversee all commercial, private, even military aircraft. They identify problems and try to fix them. And on a day like today, the biggest problem is going to be volume. Take a look at the screen behind me there.

Each and every one of those red dots represents a plane in the sky, at this moment. Right now, there are 2,500 flights up in the air. At about noontime today, when the west coast is up and running that number will swell to about 6,000 flights at the same time, and the FAA here is watching all of those flights. Another problem today is going to be the weather in certain parts of the country. We're looking at gusty winds in the windy city. No surprise there. Snow and fog in Denver. Some A.M. fog in Boston and some possible visibility issues in Philadelphia. All of that is going to play in here as the people get out to the airports and try to get their planes up and running on time.

Kim Smith, supervisor here at the FAA joining us now to talk a little bit of more about this. You like to think of yourself more as a traffic cop and what we're looking at are highways in the sky. Today is traditionally the second busiest travel day of the year after this coming Sunday. Volume is really the issue today, right Kim?

KIM SMITH, FAA SUPERVISOR: That's correct. Our volume today, as you mentioned, near capacity, and we've prepared for it by establishing route structures to help with those slows of traffic. As you mentioned, traffic management is very similar to being a traffic cop. Our job, primary responsibility, is to help control the flows of traffic to and from major airports.

CHO: And on a day like today, I mean, you're looking at 2.5 million passengers, 20 percent more than usual. Planes are 90 percent full. There's really little margin for error, right?

SMITH: That's correct. We've, fortunately do have most areas with favorable weather today, so the weather should not be as big of impact as it could be.

CHO: Fingers crossed.

SMITH: Correct. Volume is our biggest concern today. And we've done our best to prepare for that, establishing routes to help with that.

CHO: And the president has tried to ease some of the congestion, by opening up military air space starting at 4:00 p.m. today. How much is that going to help?

SMITH: Well, that's going to help with this traffic to and from the Northeast, particularly the New York and Boston areas. So, we have additional routes that will be available, that traffic which is traditionally our highest volume area of the country.

CHO: All right, Tim Smith, supervisor here at the FAA. The head hunt. We thank you for joining us. We'll be talking to you throughout the morning. So, John, what you're looking at is 55,000 flights today, up to 6,000 at any given time. We're watching the problems here at the FAA Command Center and we'll be talking to you about them throughout the morning.


ROBERTS: You got a great front row seat to all the action there. Alina, we'll get back to you soon, thanks.

CHETRY: Well, Rob Marciano is at our weather update desk and he's been tracking all of the extreme weather. Checking out the hot spots for you, so you'll know if you're going run into trouble whether you're flying or driving.


CHETRY: They might squeak by after all. All right, Rob, thanks. We'll check you in throughout the morning.

By the way, if you're one of the millions at the airport this morning, we want to hear from you. Send your I-report. Any pictures that you have of long lines or anything that caught your eye in particular, videos that you can do on your cell phone and e-mails. Is your flight being delayed? Is it cancelled? Tell us what's going on, email us We're going to read them throughout the morning as well.

And it brings us to our quick vote question of the morning. What drives you nuts about traveling today? Cast your vote at We ask, is it traffic, is it high gas prices, airport security lines? Wow, overwhelmingly the high gas prices as we talk today. The national average $3.09 for a gallon of regular unleaded. So, traffic at 27 percent. High gas prices at 67 percent and airport security lines 7 percent. I'm sure the 7 percent though are highly frustrated. John, if you're there. Most people are going to be driving today so of course gas prices on their minds as well.

ROBERTS: I'll tell you, when you put $60 worth of gas in the tank it's a shock.

Former press secretary drops a political bombshell on the White House. Was President Bush in on a lie? A new book opens up a new chapter in one of the biggest scandals of the Bush administration. That's coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Here's a look at the Annual Bonfire at Texas A&M University. About 3 thousand people attending the event, always comes before the annual game against arch rival Texas. This year's bonfire took place off campus. You may remember, it was banned from campus after that incident back in 1999, when the fire collapsed killing 12 people.

A house in Michigan explodes, burning down to just rubble. And there you see the aftermath as they're putting out what's left of it. The married couple, who lived there, both 64 years old, were taken to the hospital. Their injuries not life threatening. Neighbors said they heard the couple screaming and were able to get them out in time.

And it will be a white Thanksgiving in New Hampshire. It's the first snowfall of the season coming down there. Drivers taken by surprise. There were several accidents reported.


ROBERTS: A former Bush White House press secretary is making accusations against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Joining me now with that story and more from Washington is our CNN political analyst John Dickerson of "Slate" magazine. John, good to see you.

You and I were bought at the White House during that time when Scott McClellan, who was then White House press secretary, stood up behind the podium at the Brady Press room and said Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with leaking Valerie Plame's name. Now comes out this excerpt from a book he's got coming out in April where he says "I had unknowingly passed along false information and five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so, Rowe, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself." He didn't come right out and say that they told him to lie but it gets awfully close to that.

JOHN DICKERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does. Its frustrating now is those briefings we used to sit through because, you know, if you want to actually give us some news and give us some clarity, you would say that those other three officials knew that this was untrue. Instead, it's that weasel word "involved." We know from McClellan previously that he says he was misled by Libby and Rove so that's been out there. This question of "involved" though is so murky because the president could have been involved and still know nothing of the underlying untruth. So, it's a win for the press release people and his publisher but we still don't know that much more than we did before.

ROBERTS: But, John, this is so unusual. This is something we really haven't seen since the days when John Dean came out and talked about the Nixon White House saying there's a cancer on the presidency. It's like Scott McClellan has pulled the house down around him or the very least, burned every bridge that he ever crossed.

DICKERSON: Well, maybe. You know, I mean, because we've known that the president, that there were these conversations about how to manage this and during the Libby trial, we saw the back and forth between the vice president's office and the White House about Scooter Libby getting exonerated from the podium by McClellan. So, we knew conversations took place.

What McClellan is only hinting at and frustratingly so, is that these three other officials, Bush, Cheney and Andrew Card were involved. Again, that could just mean they had a meeting and that they were as in the dark about what Libby and Rove did as McClellan was, and so now we just have to wait to find out for sure if they actually knew.

ROBERTS: So what do you expect the fallout from this is going to be? Will people like John Conyers want to re-open an investigation, perhaps want to hold hearings on this? I mean, McClellan does illuminate something here that the White House had sought to keep under wraps.

DICKERSON: Well, what would be great is that Conyers or somebody would compel McClellan to give us the straight story here instead of just using that lame word "involved," and perhaps they will, although you know, there's much else to investigate these days. So I'm not sure whether Conyers or anybody else will jump on this before the hearings.

ROBERTS: Boy, I'll tell you though, it's surprising you know. I knew that he was upset because they set to his office and talked to him about it. About told to go out there and do that. I didn't realize he was this upset about it. John Dickerson, from "Slate" magazine, our CNN political analyst. Good to see you, thanks.

DICKERSON: Thanks, John.


CHETRY: Well, we have been watching the roads and the airports today. Second busiest travel day of the year. It still looks clear. Hey, if you're somebody that can get up early and get out there, kudos because things are looking good right now. This a live shot of route 128 right outside of Boston, courtesy of WCVB. We're going to be getting live reports and updates. We're going to be using our tower cams and affiliates throughout the morning. Keeping you abreast of any hot spots, any trouble spots, as many people make their way to friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The most news in the morning right here on CNN.


ROBERTS: 49 minutes after the hour now. And if you're just joining us, here's a look at what's making the headlines this morning. Oil closing in on $100 a barrel, just within cents of it. The price rose to a record $99.29 during the day. It closed in New York a little lower than that at $98.03. That's still a new high though. Traders are watching for new numbers coming out today in the oil and gasoline supply.

And it's planes, trains and automobiles for millions of Americans today. A live picture for you now WCVB. I guess it's not there, of route 128 just outside of Boston. And this is a live picture from Newark. It has nothing to do with Boston, doesn't even resemble Boston. The airports and the train stations are crowded and gas prices are not keeping drivers off of the roads. AAA says close to 39 million people will be traveling at least 50 miles away for Thanksgiving. Maybe with the turkey and all the trimmings on 95, outside of Newark, will look like Boston, we'll see.

CHETRY: Well, we've been asking for your e-mails and if you're going to be flying or on the road today, we want to know, how has it been going for you? And Veronica De La Cruz...

ROBERTS: So far, fabulously.

CHETRY: Veronica De La Cruz is going to help out. We need your help this morning. You have some interesting, though, things you can check on the web.

Some sites that maybe will be able to help.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're definitely get to the frustrated flyer e-mails in just a second. But first, if you are ahead out the door to catch a flight this morning, a quick tip in addition to checking airport delays, don't forget, you might want to check parking conditions, if you're thinking about driving to the airport. Lots of airport websites give you information about availability. Here you can see some of the parking lots, this is for you, John, Boston's Logan Airport, there you go, and they're already closed. Something you want to look at on the web.

CHETRY: Get someone to drop you off.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, take a cab. Some airport website, guys, also has less wait times for security. Hartsfield International in Atlanta right now showing that there's about a 12 to 20 minute wait on security right now. So, you want to get there early this morning and back to those flyer frustration e-mails, Sabine Rodriguez (ph), has to be watching your show right, from New York's LaGuardia Airport is upset that they have to wait -- get this -- an extra three hours for the delay in the Northwest. She's taking a Northwest flight rather, from New York to Memphis, not for the weather but for the flight crew to rest. She says you should think Northwest could have told us before we got to the airport, and they didn't. So, sorry about that Sabine.

But not everyone this morning. Blasting the airlines. This e- mail from Elizabeth. She wrote to us about her nice experience flying home in a rush to see her dying mother. She says, "Our departure was delayed by a large bird on the runway. The flight attendant informed that she spoke to the captain and he notified the other connecting flight. So, when we arrived at Charlotte, there are arrangements for my husband and I to be accompanied to our connecting flight."

CHETRY: Well, that was nice.

DE LA CRUZ: It's not all bad. And she was able to spend some time with her mother before she died away. Her mother was 97 years old, so Elizabeth Boyer from Clear Spring, Maryland saying a Happy Thanksgiving. You know, go ahead and pack some patience this morning and don't forget to send us an e-mail. Let us know about your travel woes. You can send us an I-report, pictures, video. We want to hear how it's going out there. We're going to be reading those e-mails throughout the morning. The address is

CHETRY: What's the best website, in your opinion, to check on the flight status?

DE LA CRUZ: We're looking at Checking a couple of different websites. And all honesty, I would say to go to your local airport. If you're flying out this morning, you just want to check your airport website.

CHETRY: Checkout the airport website.

DE LA CRUZ: You want to checkout the airport website. Check for delays, check on parking, all of that stuff is online right now. We were talking about FAA, the website, not only today, so check on your airport's website.

CHETRY: That's good. Good advice, thanks, Veronica.

ROBERTS: I was just on the FAA website. And the only little orange ball we got there is at Teeterboard Airport saying that they're starting to get delays there because of traffic coming in but those are executives flying in on little jets.

CHETRY: It was that same orange dot yesterday, so...

ROBERTS: Do we really care about them? Thanks. See you soon, Veronica.

With many questions surrounding the death of Donda West, the plastic surgeon who operated on her walked off of the "Larry King Live" set last night, without saying anything about the case. Our Dr. Gupta was part of that show. We're going to talk to him about the whole episode, that's coming up right up on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Coming up to three minutes now to the top of the hour. Gerri Willis in for Ali Velshi this morning "Minding Your Business." A lot of people may be thinking about retiring, baby boomers starting to collect social security, want a nice place to go live, friendly to retirees.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, more and more want to work in retirement. Maybe they think they want to work, maybe they have to work, because they don't have enough retirement money saved up. Looking though, these people aren't different from the previous generation. They didn't work in heavy manufacturing for 30, 40 years. You know, they've worked in white collar jobs. They're ready to keep going. They want to do something, maybe a little bit on the side.

There's a new list, John, now of the best cities to retire to, where you can also work if you want to, its Check this out. Well, I don't know about, but Syracuse, New York at the top of the list. I was a little surprised. I wanted some sun.

ROBERTS: You wouldn't think about that. You would think, maybe, Palm Springs, or Phoenix, Arizona. Some place like that.

WILLIS: Vegas is on the list. Obviously, Tampa is on the list. Actually, they have lots of choices all across the country. You know, they look at this list. They put it together by saying, hey, where do jobs grow? Where are employers friendly to seniors? Where can you make sure that the cost of living is not too high? That's how they put this thing together, long lists. The website is called

And if you want to know for example, just how much money you're going to need in retirement, if you wanna know how you put your resume together, if you want some advice for getting that job, go to the website,, great place.

ROBERTS: Cool. You know, I'm sort of person, I have to work for the rest of my life, a, because I can't afford and b, because I'd like to.

WILLIS: Yes, see, everybody wants to do a little something, right?

CHETRY: That's right. My father-in-law just went back to work again, too. Just for fun, I guess, or maybe to get away from my mother-in-law. But you know, it's nice. A little extra spending money, right?

WILLIS: Yes, it has all side benefits.

CHETRY: To buy her diamonds. Gerri, thanks.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

CHETRY: The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now. ROBERTS: Prime time meltdown.


KING: Don't you want to speak out?


KING: You don't want to.


ROBERTS: The doctor who operated on Kanye West's mom storms off on Larry King.


KING: But you came here to speak out?

ADAMS: That's correct, but I'm going to honor their wishes.


ROBERTS: What he was afraid to talk about. We're live with Larry for all the backstage drama.

Duped by the boss. A formers White House press secretary turns against the president.

Plus, down to the wire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First flight was canceled, second flight's been delayed.


ROBERTS: The mad dash to get home for the holidays. Everything you need to know before you head out the door, on this AMERICAN MORNING. And good morning to you. Thanks for being with us on this Wednesday, the 21st of November, the day before Thanksgiving. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.

We got you covered this morning on one of the busiest travel days of the year when about 38 million Americans are going to be traveling more than 50 miles from home to celebrate Thanksgiving and the high gas prices are not keeping people off the road although causing some frustration for sure. When we check the CNN gas gauge, right now, the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular is $3.09, according to AAA. It's the highest at $3.43 on average in California. The lowest in Missouri at $2.92, and that price could keep going up with fears about the U.S. economy driving the price of oil dangerously close to $100 a barrel. Trading during the day, set a new high, $99.29. It then settled at $9.03.