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American Morning

Chavez: Obama Doesn't Know Energy; CEO Bonus Outrage; Liz Claiborne to Lay Off 725 Positions; Desperate for Work

Aired February 03, 2009 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: A minute and a half after the top of the hour. Breaking news this morning, Iran state media reporting the country set its first homemade satellite into orbit. Iran says it was design for research purposes, but the move is worrying many international observers. State television showed video that it claims was a satellite launch.

The Israeli military reporting a long-range rocket strike in southwestern Israeli. It was the first reported attack by Palestinian militants in the area since the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas more than two weeks ago. There are no reports of any injuries or damage.

And in about three hours' time, President Obama will name Republican Senator Judd Gregg as his secretary of Commerce. Gregg will be the third Republican in the president's cabinet.

A deal struck with New Hampshire's governor will keep Gregg sit out of Democratic hands and not affect the balance of power in the Senate. Sources say that Gregg's former chief-of-staff, Bonnie Newman will be tapped to replace him.

And we are learning much more about the mother of the now famous octuplets. She is hired at public relations firm and is reportedly looking to sell her story for millions. And as she plans her media debut, one of the doctors who made the record delivery joined "LARRY KING LIVE" last night.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What is her attitude?

DR. KAREN MAPLES, HEADED OCTUPLETS DELIVERY TEAM: She is very happy. She is very pleased with the progress of the babies, and she is very optimistic for the babies in the long term.

KING: Does she know the uproar this has caused?

MAPLES: We have spoken to her about it, but she does have her family to support and so she is getting help that way.

KING: But she does know like everybody in the world is talking about this?

MAPLES: That's true. Yes.


ROBERTS: Well, the mother has hired a spokeswoman. That spokeswoman says that she has made no decisions other than to care for her children.

The tug of war over the president's stimulus package gets under way in just a short while. The Senate is expected to start voting on amendments to the bill. Many Republican senators are signaling that the full bill needs more debate. But hundreds of billions of dollars on the line, it's hard to know what the stimulus would really do for you so we're breaking it down for you this morning.

Looking for a Republican support, Senate Democrats have agreed to drop two controversial programs. $75 millions for anti-smoking campaigns and $400 million slated for STD and HIV prevention. Turning to the proposed tax cuts -- $500 for individuals and $1000 for working couples. For the first half of this year, it would be about $20 back in your pocket with each paycheck. The plan would also spare around $24 million taxpayers from paying the alternative minimum tax. The total cost, $70 billion, on average, saving a family of four $2,300.

Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business" this morning. She joins us now for more on this.

And some people have said that the provisions for poor people are really the Democratic Party rewriting their social contract with America. Is it seen that way?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, some people say that that is exactly what they are doing. Other people say that, look, this is getting money quickly into the economy. Some economists have done studies that show that when you give poor people a dollar, it gets very quickly back into the economy. Because not a lot of other places for it to go. It has to go for living expenses. It goes to grocery stores, gas tanks right away and that helps the economy.

(INAUDIBLE) has done some studies on this, and said this is a very quick way to get it in there. There's a lot of safety net spending in here. $43 billion for unemployment benefits. This means you're going to get about $25 extra in your unemployment check if you don't get a job and you're going to be able to get benefits for a little bit longer. There's a tax credit for health care costs, some $39 billion, and $20 billion in food stamps. Well, that means you guys for a family of four on food stamp is about $79 more per month.

And if you're a single person without a disability, you'll be able to go beyond the three month minimum or the maximum, rather, and you can actually get food stamps for a little bit longer. So there are some -- there are some, you know, provisions in there that supporters say protect the most vulnerable, that we get into the economy very quickly, but the case against it is it doesn't create new jobs.

If your point is to create new jobs, the safety net spending doesn't necessarily create new jobs. And it might be unfocused. There is that criticism again.

ROBERTS: Unfocused, yes.

ROMANS: A lot of people keep talking about how it's unfocused. You could also argue that you got to do a lot of different things in a lot of different ways to make sure that somewhere, because we don't know what the magic mix is. And let's be honest, we don't know what the magic mix is.

ROBERTS: One person's unfocused is another person's diversified.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

ROBERTS: All right, Christine, thanks for that analysis.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

Well, right now, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is casting doubt on Obama's -- President Obama's promise to shake America's dependence on foreign oil. In the exclusive interview only on CNN, Chavez says that he supports President Obama's efforts to re-power the nation using alternative energy, but that he doesn't think it will happen.


PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): Look at the world as a whole. The world is going to need. There is no doubt, they're going to need to sustain industrial pace, increase in oil consumption, it's unavoidable. I think President Obama is being -- the wool is being pulled over his eyes. He's just arrived because he doesn't know a whole lot about energy issues. I don't know how he is going to achieve what he has announced, but it is very difficult for the U.S. to lower its dependency on oil. The ones that produce and import oil, I think that we should all agree to respect our sovereignty with the U.S.


CHETRY: CNN's Jill Dougherty is live at the State Department.

Interesting to hear Hugo Chavez sort of questioning President Obama's knowledge and how much he is familiar with energy issues.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are a lot of messages being thrown out here, Kiran. But, you know, you'd have to say why is Chavez talking and saying let's talk with the United States right now? Well, one of the problems is he has real problems with the economy. The worldwide recession is creating real problems with the price of oil -- countries not using as much oil. And so that may be one of the reasons why we're hearing him say let's talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHAVEZ (through translator): I'm ready to talk with the U.S. president. Let's hope, and I have said this, perhaps we can restore the relations to the same level that we had with the Clinton administration. I talked to Mr. Clinton a number of times with his secretary of state even on the phone. We talked to President Clinton several times.

Perhaps we can start a new period of respect and relations that would be constructive. I have the faith that that is may be possible, but it would depend on the U.S. and the president's attitude, attitude of the secretary of state and the administration. We will not accept lack of respect from anybody. We demand respect. We want honor for not only us, but for all of Latin America.


DOUGHERTY: So the State Department is not really saying anything specifically about these comments, but you know, this type of approach may make it easier with relations with the United States.


CHETRY: Yes. And it's interesting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first trip abroad is going to be to Asia. Actually, there's a whole set of challenges there as well with North Korea ramping up some of the rhetoric.


CHETRY: So a lot to handle for sure. Jill Dougherty for us this morning, thank you.

ROBERTS: Well, another world leader gets a shoe thrown at him.

You can't see it because the assembled Press Corps of the world wasn't there like they were for President Bush. But a student protester at Cambridge University in England hurled his shoe at China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during a speech.

The young man not nearly as accurate as the man who tossed two shoes at President Bush, though. The shoe missed Wen Jiabao by about 30 feet. The protestor was later handed over to police. It was a much longer throw, too, for the guy.

CHETRY: Yes. He had further to go, but I saw it come through on the BlackBerry yesterday, and I thought did he duck and weave as well as our president did?

ROBERTS: He didn't. He heard a clunk and he sort of went like that and that was about it. No, there was no bobbing and weaving involved at all.

The White House versus Rush Limbaugh. Are Democrats and Republicans, for that matter, helping the conservative radio host build his power base? Democratic strategist James Carville has some strong opinions on the subject. We'll talk with him just ahead. And a sign of a tough economic times on display. Hundreds of people line up and camp out for days for a shot at a firefighting position in Miami. We'll tell you why they were so desperate to get employment. It's 9-1/2 minutes after the hour.



MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Rush Limbaugh is a conservative voice in this country that, clearly, people must pay attention to and, clearly, the Obama administration and others in the administration must be paying attention to. So, Rush will say what Rush has to say. We will do what we have to do.


ROBERTS: That is the newly minted chairman of the Republican National Committee, trying to downplay Rush Limbaugh's power within the GOP. But at least one Democratic insider is not buying it -- James Carville has gone so far as to say that Rush Limbaugh is running the Republican Party. James is also a CNN contributor. He joins us now this morning from New Orleans.

Good morning to you, James.


ROBERTS: You wrote a column recently in which you rebutted something that Rush Limbaugh said, in which he believed that ideas for the financial stimulus package should be allocated according to the percentages in the November 4th election, which would mean that Democrats would have 54 percent of the ideas, Republicans would have 46 percent of the ideas. What do you have to say about that?

CARVILLE: Well, I just thought that it has risen to the level of hypocrisy that had to be dealt with none other than humor. As you know, Rush Limbaugh on a "Wall Street Journal" editorial page wrote that 100 percent in favor for overturning the popular will in the 2000 election. So, I just want to point that out.

He is the most exalted Republican. He is the leader of their party. They have submitted to him in the Congress. They quake at mighty Rush. And he's the one that's setting the Republican agenda. They don't care what Michael Steele says. He can go do anything he wants. And we just have to acknowledge that kind of awesome political power within the Republican Party where it exists. And I was acknowledging power and hypocrisy which is, you know, two things that are in abundance in Washington.


ROBERTS: Just to remind people, you said in your column that Rush Limbaugh was, quote, "the moral and intellectual leader and most influential person in the Republican Party." Do you really believe that he is more powerful than the GOP leadership -- McConnell, Boehner and Cantor?

CARVILLE: Of course, he is. I mean, if you look at this guy Phil Gingrey, this Republican congressman, who is just groveling to him. He has said on his show that he has more power than these people. You cannot -- no one in the Republican Party is scared of John Boehner. No one in the Republican Party is scared of Mitch McConnell.

I heard Senator McCain, who, as we know, is one of the really brave people in politics, his voice was almost quaking. He didn't want to do anything to offend Rush Limbaugh. These Republicans are scared to death of Rush Limbaugh because he is the most powerful person in that party.

ROBERTS: And this is...

CARVILLE: Which is kind of odd that a political party has a radio talk show host as its intellectual power house, but that's today's Republican Party, and we Democrats have to acknowledge that.

ROBERTS: And this isn't you just stirring the pot, James?

CARVILLE: Well, why would I? I mean, I'm not stirring the pot. Yes, I'm stirring the pot on the hypocrisy of him saying it should be a 54/46 allocation, but it's the Republicans who have put Rush in this position, and I'm just acknowledging the opposition leader of the party opposite mine.

ROBERTS: Let me switch gears here. Barack Obama, the president, is looking for some Republican cooperation on the economic stimulus bill in the Senate at least. E.J. Dionne writes in the "Washington Post" yesterday about bipartisanship, quote, "If achieving bipartisanship takes priority over the actual content of policy, Republicans are handed a powerful weapon. In theory, they can keep moving the bipartisan bar indefinitely. And each concession to their sensibilities threatens the solidarity in the president's own camp."

Do you think the president risks paying too high a price to get Republicans on board in the stimulus package?

CARVILLE: It's possible. But, you know, right -- one of the funny things as I was reading the papers this morning before I came on, and I realized President Obama has been president for two weeks. It feels like two years already.

But it -- it does, but, at a point, I think, this president is going to drop the hammer and say, OK, this is my priorities, this is what we can't negotiate on, this is what we can negotiate on. But right now, he is really - they're really striving hard to try to get something bipartisan, something that the whole country feels like it can get behind. And, you know, that's pretty consistent with his campaign message and it's pretty consistent with what he's doing in the cabinet.

ROBERTS: James Carville stirring the gumbo this morning. It's always good to see you, James. CARVILLE: Thank you, John Roberts. Take care.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: Well, if you're lining up for billions of taxpayer dollars to stay afloat, Wall Street CEOs will reward themselves -- they did -- with plenty of bonuses. Now, your outrage has a very strong voice on Capitol Hill. It's 16 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." After the big banks on Wall Street got a really big bailout, many CEOs still found the cash to get billions in bonuses and had a lot of people furious including one senator who was not afraid to speak up. Jim Acosta is live in our Washington bureau with more.

You got to be talking about Claire McCaskill here?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kiran. Are we allowed to say that? These people are idiots. OK. Maybe a senator is. Maybe we're not. But Congress appears to be finding its backbone when it comes to the bailout, Kiran. The House Banking Committee is expected to hold hearings on the latest bank scandals next week. And over in the Senate, a note to those bailout barons on Wall Street. Don't make Senator Claire McCaskill angry. You won't like her when she's angry.


SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: They don't get it. These people are idiots! You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses.

ACOSTA (voice over): Ever since Claire McCaskill took to the Senate floor to publicly shame those bailed out financial firms that handed out billions of dollars in bonuses, the Missouri Democrat says she's gotten one basic response. You go, senator.

(on camera): Did that feel good?

MCCASKILL: Oh, yes. It felt great. And what felt even better is the reaction we've gotten from around the country. Our phones won't stop ringing. The e-mail traffic is unbelievable. It's hard to be confident about our financial system when you're so damn mad.

ACOSTA (voice over): There's already a new bailout shocker. Citigroup, a firm that received $45 billion in taxpayer money, just announced its former CEO Sandy Weill will no longer use the company's private jets. The company says Weill had used one of its planes to fly his family to a posh Mexican resort over the holidays.

MCCASKILL: Taxpayers are on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars in their institutions. They owe the taxpayers something other than business as usual.

ACOSTA: McCaskill has introduced a bill to cap the pay of bailed out CEO at $400,000 a year, the same as the president's salary. A staunch ally the president during the campaign, she may be gaining traction.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We'll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery.

ACOSTA: The administration is looking at ways to crack down on executive bonuses, but Republicans in Congress are skeptical.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: I really don't want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do. Then you truly have nationalized the business.

ACOSTA: You voted for the bailout?


ACOSTA: Any regrets?

MCCASKILL: Sure. Clearly, I've learned my lesson going forward. We've got to put a lot more control in these bills, making sure that these executives understand that taxpayers cannot afford to pay them what they are used to getting paid.


ACOSTA: Remember the other half of the $700 billion bailout? Well, the Treasury Department is now considering just how to use that money to prop up some of the nation's biggest banks with new rules for firms that get taxpayer help.

And Kiran, Claire McCaskill admits it's probably not likely that they'll pass this cap on executive pay of $400,000, but it sure feels good.

CHETRY: Yes. Well, and you know, it's a good thing that Washington is finally waking up. I mean, there were no strings attached to that first $30 to $50 billion, and that is what you get.

ACOSTA: Coffee is brewing, time to wake up. Exactly.

CHETRY: All right. Jim Acosta for us, thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, remember the thought police? They're back. A government agency apparently is developing artificial intelligence to get insight into what and how you're thinking. We'll take a look at how they are doing it.

And more than a thousand people doing whatever it takes to get a job. Wait until you hear how long they waited to start the application process. It's 22 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: All right, 24 minutes after the hour. And just in to CNN. More job cuts. Liz Claiborne announcing big cuts. Christine Romans joins us now. Again, we talked earlier today about the difficulties in retail sales, and here we see yet another big company having to lay off people.

ROMANS: That's right. Liz Claiborne 725 positions, Kiran. That's 8 percent of its U.S. work force. It has already reported that it's closing its distribution center in Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania. It's going to suspend the merit pay increases for every employee.

The company says it's a highly uncertain economic environment. You know, when you start to see that in so many different news releases from companies, highly uncertain economic environment, can't see out six months. You know, there is a lot of -- a lot of very negative language for the next six months or so for many these companies, and it's forcing them to really cut costs.

So Liz Claiborne cutting 725 positions, that 8 percent of its U.S. work force. We talked earlier about Mattel, not announcing job cuts there, but Mattel talking about its Barbie brand sales down 21 percent. Its match box cars and that whole brand down, I think, 17 percent or 19 percent.

CHETRY: Right. And profits down in general by nearly half, right?

ROMANS: Yes, profits down in general by half. You're talking about a retail environment that is really under stress here. People are not buying the apparel that they used to buy. They're not buying the toys they used to buy. They're not buying any of these things that are not needs, but are wants. People are really re-evaluating.

Yesterday we saw the consumer spending numbers that really are interesting. People saving a little bit more money and spending less. It's something that American consumers frankly have not done for a very, very long time and they're starting to do it now. This is the fallout you see. It will mean lost jobs.

CHETRY: Exactly. 7,000 jobs cut from Macy's yesterday as well. Christine Romans, thanks.

ROBERTS: Well, it's a sign of the times. The job market in South Florida so tough right now that hundreds of people lined up for days. We're not talking hours. Not talking one day, for days. Just to apply for work with the Miami fire department. CNN's John Zarrella has got that story.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Kiran, people stood in line not for hours, but for days. And not for concert tickets, but for a handful of coveted jobs fighting fires.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): The line started forming on Friday. Robert Welz and Andrew Lopez got here Saturday night. Did you get any sleep the last couple nights?

ANDREW LOPEZ, JOB APPLICANT: Last night, I slept a little bit. It rained on us. It's horrible.

ZARRELLA: Their place in line, numbers 170 and 171.

ROBERT WELZ, JOB APPLICANT: You got to come out early. And you got to come out prepared.

ZARRELLA: Welz and Lopez are among the lucky ones. They were close to the front of the line. By the time Jerry Barthelemy and Juan Cruz got here, City of Miami officials had stopped handing out numbers. Police estimate at least 1,200 people, all ages, were waiting when the doors opened and Miami began taking applications for 35 fire department positions. That's it, just 35.

HECTOR MIRABILE, CITY OF MIAMI DIRECTOR OF EMPLOYEE RELATIONS: We got 18, 20s, all the way up to 35, 40. In fact, I saw a man, I don't know if he was holding a spot for somebody or not, but 60 years of age.

ZARRELLA: City officials say they never expected the turnout. It is, they say, clearly a sign of the economic times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have tried to get other jobs, like at sales. Nobody's hiring.

ZARRELLA: In the past, a couple of hundred people might apply, but nothing ever approaching this number. With benefits and a salary starting at nearly $47,000, these jobs are coveted.

JERRY BARTHELEMY, JOB APPLICANT: I don't want a job. I want a career. That's the whole point. I don't want a job. I want a career.

JUAN CRUZ, JOB APPLICANT: If you get lucky, you get in the fire department, you have a great career, a great retirement, good benefits.

ZARRELLA: Angela Bolivar stood in line for her brother-in-law.

ANGELA BOLIVAR, JOB APPLICANT : Good benefits, stable. You know, in this day's economy, it's hard to find something that you know you can trust.

ZARRELLA: Most all the applicants have some prior education or experience as firefighters or paramedics. And now they're getting a lesson in patience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're moving us again.

ZARRELLA: Oh, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all day long, back and forth.


ZARRELLA: City officials say they will leave the doors open until they have 750 applicants who meet the initial qualifications -- city residency, high school diploma and tobacco free. The rest are simply out of luck.



CHETRY: John Zarrella for us. Wow. All right, 28 minutes past the hour. Breaking news this morning. We are watching North Korea. It may test-fire a long-range missile that might one day be able to hit the U.S. South Korea and Japanese news agencies say that the north is preparing for a ballistic missile launch. This comes after a week after Pyongyang said that the Korean peninsula was, quote, "on the brink of war," throwing out all agreements with South Korea.

And North Korea is expected to be on the top of Hillary Clinton's agenda during her first overseas trip as secretary of state. Diplomats say that she will visit China, Japan and South Korea, but the State Department has not finalized those plans. It wasn't all business yesterday at her swearing in ceremony. In fact, senator -- former senator, now Secretary of State Clinton cracked a joke that loosened up the crowd that actually turned her husband, the former president, beat red in the process.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am so grateful to him for a lifetime of all kinds of experiences. Which have given me a -- which has given me an extraordinary richness that I am absolutely beholding to and grateful for.


CHETRY: And Vice President Joe Biden who delivered the oath also joked about how they all ended up, after all, on the same team.

Well, Detroit's former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is a free man once again. He walked out of jail overnight after serving a 99-day sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice. Kilpatrick and his then chief-of-staff admitted to lying from the Whistleblower's trial about an affair and the role of the firing of a police official. The testimony was contradicted by sexually explicit text messages.

One of the most famous unsolved crimes of the past 25 years is getting another look. Police in Boulder, Colorado, have taken back the JonBenet Ramsey investigation.

Police say that one technology is giving investigators tools that they didn't have more than a decade ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing that hasn't changed is we've always had that unknown DNA. We've always had that and that is always something that we have been seeking to answer. So that's going to remain an important part of the investigation, obviously. And I wouldn't be surprised if the task force focuses on that as well.


CHETRY: Well the six-year-old was found dead in her basement 12 years ago on Christmas day back in 1996. Her parents were, at one point, considered to be under an umbrella of suspicion and then later cleared.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate is massaging the economic stimulus bill that has grown to nearly $900 billion and counting. The president wants it signed by President's day, two weeks from now. That's slower than he planned but still fast by Washington Standards. CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look now at what the final stimulus package might look like.



PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: you and I together will change this country, will change the world.

CROWLEY: And there is governance or the stimulus plan.

OBAMA: There's still some differences between Democrats and Republicans on the hill, between the White House and some of the products that has been discussed on the Hill.

CROWLEY: The balance of power, executive versus legislative, does not lend itself to speed. But with democrats in control of congress and the White House, it will be a happy conclusion for the new president, eventually.

JENNIFER DUFFY, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: So it probably won't be quite on schedule, but my guess is that they will have a bill that Obama can claim credit for.

CROWLEY: Law making is tricky business with each end of Pennsylvania Avenue confident and protective of its powers. That's why the White House approaches the house written, house passed stimulus bill so inscrutably.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is pleased with the package that passed the House.

CROWLEY: Actually, that would be kind of pleased.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Undoubtedly that package will be screened and changed some through the process.

CROWLEY: There is little public cajoling but sources say that on the phone and behind closed doors, the Obama team is urging Senate democrats to, "Narrow the target, remove some of the spending that critics say won't stimulate the economy, and add more infrastructure. Jobs producing public works projects like roads and bridges.

After a senate vote, a conference committee takes the House and the senate bills to make it one bill. This is the stage where the White House often weighs in on what it must have and what it must have out. The president told NBC that's where he thinks he can pick up bipartisan support.

OBAMA: We are going to see substantial support and people are going to say this is a serious effort.

CROWLEY: Even as the White House quietly pushes the senate, it is calling reinforcements to the line. That massive list of Obama voters has turned into a lobbying/re-election tool. This week, the Democratic National Committee sent an e-mail from the president urging supporters to hold economic recovery house meetings to learn and talk about the plan. And that gets to why, in the end, president Obama will get most of what he wants, if not when he wanted it.

A president's power is derived largely through their popularity. So as long as voters are happy and believe he is powerful, then he is.

CROWLEY: Right now, in the balance of power, the president has more. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


CHETRY: And it was a really big night for the Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. He went for 61 points in the Lakers victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden last night. Bryant broke the garden record for most points scored in a game.

Hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is getting a reprieve for a library book that he left on a U.S Airways flight that crash landed in the Hudson River last month. Officials at Fresno's California State University says the late fees are being forgiven and that the school's library is dedicating the replacement book on professional ethics to Sully.

And Joe the plumber is still working on his 15 minutes, fresh from a stint as a war correspondent. Joe Wurzelbacher is talking political strategy this morning with republican congressional staffers in Washington. He is the guest speaker at the group meeting.

Joe is expect to talk about the economic stimulus package which he is not a fan of.

ROBERTS: He is really there as a draw more than anything, as I understand it. Hey, we got Joe the Plumber come in so everybody come on in and attend the strategy session this week.

CHETRY: That's right. We'll see if he draws more than usual.

ROBERTS: Let's see if imparts some good strategy too. President Obama easily the most technologically savvy president in U.S. history. So with the commander in chief constantly thumbing on a special blackberry everyone in Washington is clamoring for the presidential e-mail address.

And Uncle Sam wants to know your thoughts. Still a look at how the national security agency is using the internet to gain insight into what we're all thinking. 35 1/2 minutes now after the hour.


CHETRY: President Obama's administration is history making for a lot of reasons. One small one, he is the first commander in chief who is armed with a Blackberry. So now the buzz inside the beltway is all about who has Mr. Obama's super secret e-mail address. Our Carol Costello is live in Washington for us this morning to try to uncover this information. You got it yet, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't have it. But I wish I did, because you know, you can't help but join in the frenzy that is going on in Washington right now. It's sort of like you're back in high school and you want to connect with the most popular kid in school. But you just can't.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Washington is abuzz. You can almost hear the incredulous, hopeful, electronic messages flying. Oh, my god. You have the president of the United States' e-mail? Sadly for many the message back is, are you kidding?

Truth is not many have President Obama's super secret e-mail address and that's got Washington in a frenzy.

GARRETT GRAFF, WASHINTONIAN.COM: There's a big class of people in Washington who would like to think they should be on e-mail terms with the president and for them probably it's the most frustrating part of this, is not knowing who among their group has access to the president.

COSTELLO: So whoever has that golden address has the president's ear and in Washington that means you are someone. That's why reporters yearn for it too.

MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: You're not going to hook me up, are you?

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: Matt, do you want one?

LAUER: I want your e-mail address. I'd like to communicate with you during the game.

OBAMA: I like your son. I might give it to him. I'm not going to give it to you.


COSTELLO: And don't forget lobbyists. They really want it. Or at least want to know who has it.

GRAFF: You want to know whether the person who says they can talk to the president for you can actually do that.

COSTELLO: Right now we know there are just a handful of people who have the president's e-mail address. He hinted on NBC that Malia and Sasha have it and we can presume that Mrs. Obama has it too. It's been widely reported the president's closest advisers have it. Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs.

Still, Washington insiders are frustrated knowing there must be more names in the president's inbox. Lamenting it was so much simpler to know who was someone in administration's past. For example, if you were an FOB, you were invited to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, and FOG, you cut brush in the ranch in Crawford.

Heck, during those May day parades in the old Soviet Union, if you sat near Stalin, you were an FOS.


COSTELLO: And you know, John, everybody is waiting for that first basketball game at the White House. And then maybe we can figure out by who plays in the basketball game who has the president's e-mail address and of course, we want to have lunch with them.

ROBERTS: You know, you want to find out that e-mail address.

You know, I made the acquaintance of you know, a few chiefs of staffs over the years and they have told me to a person that the greatest challenge that they have is limiting access to the president. Limiting who gets to talk to the president. So this is going to create a real challenge for Rahm Emanuel to limit how many people are pinging him on a daily basis.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes. Maybe the good thing, because of security, Barack Obama's e-mail address will change like every month or six months, who knows, but that should keep the list very short, too. So there you go. You know what? People are so obsessed by blackberrys in this country that there's actually a baby blackberry out.

ROBERTS: Oh, no!

COSTELLO: I'm not kidding. Take a look.

ROBERTS: What does it do?

COSTELLO: Look, it's a baby blackberry. The maker Leapfrog, it's called Text and Learn. And of course, it's being called by some, the baby blackberry so your preschooler can actually learn how to use a blackberry and keep his or her schedule and send a few text messages.

ROBERTS: It's like the cigarette company, start the addiction young and you got them hooked for life. You know, really. And Carol, before we go, I bet you were the most popular girl in school. COSTELLO: No. I wish I was. I was a nerd but I was a popular nerd.

ROBERTS: Nerd no more. Carol, thanks so much for that.

Quick reminder by the way, CNN's Anderson Cooper sits down with a one-on-one interview with President Barack Obama today at the White House. You can see it on "AC 360." It will air tonight at 10:00 Eastern time, right here on CNN.

CHETRY: Babies don't even need a baby blackberry. My nine- month-old accidentally replied to a business person using this one. Christine's little boy called Suzanne Malveaux on her blackberry last night, too. So they've already got this one figured out.

Well, it's a tool that would make George Orwell's thought police proud. The government developing intelligence to help them learn what you are thinking.

Also actor Christian Bale going ballistic, all of it caught on tape. We're going to find out what set him off. We're going to hear a little bit of his tirade at 43 minutes after the hour.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you catch that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it was going to fall.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it didn't fall. You caught it. The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn't change the fact that it was going to happen. Did we get any false positives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone intends to kill his boss or his wife but they never go through with it. How do precogs tell the difference?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I should see what you intend to do. Only what you will do.


CHETRY: Well that's a scene from the film "Minority Report" back in 2002. But could that actually be, in some way shape, or form, the future of America's intelligence gathering? The ability to catch a criminal before that criminal commits a crime. Well, the National Security Agency is said to be developing a new intelligence tool. It wouldn't be exactly like that, but it's designed to learn more about what people are thinking and help make an intelligent analysis of what they may do. A new PBS documentary airing tonight explores the National Security Agency's surveillance and its vast mining of data on Americans here and abroad. It's called "The Spy Factory." Writer and co-producer James Bamford joins us from Washington right now.

Thanks for being with us, James. We couldn't help but think of "Minority Report" as we looked at a little bit more about what this would be. This was being able to, as you call it, picking the right needles out of this vast haystack of information. How would this work?

JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR "THE PUZZLE PALACE" AND "BODY OF SECRETS": Well, the problem that NSA and the intelligence community has had is searching - having massive amounts of information and searching it the old-fashioned way where you just put a name or a word or a phrase in and then like google, get everything that says that name and that word and that phrase.

The next step is to create a program which is what Acquaint is, basically, for more intelligent answer to your question, so you can say, when will North Korea develop their capability to hit the United States?

And then the computer program will search its data and come up with an answer, which is, I mean, that's a very positive use of the system. On the other hand, if there is lack of oversight or there is somebody that wants to use it for detrimental purposes, there's so much information in this intelligence database now, people's names, addresses, the phone numbers they call, every time they go through a toll booth -

CHETRY: Right. Well --

BAMFORD: What they buy in a store.

CHETRY: Let's just explain to people a little bit about what type of data we're talking about. We have records, we have phone calls. We have searches that you've done perhaps on the internet, e- mail addresses, GPS locations. As you said, the easy pass, you know? The auto toll charges that tracks your car.

Is this information in this Acquaint system, which is not being used now, but has been in development for about a decade, does this include everybody? Are we all cast into this net and then if we sort of hit several different checkpoints or little parts of it, our name is then forwarded on through the system?

BAMFORD: That's pretty much how it works. It can select out people in advance. It's just a massive amount of information that goes into, in essence, a big pot. So every time you go through a toll booth, if you have one of those gadgets that give you free - or pay the toll.

CHETRY: Right.

BAMFORD: There is a record of that, so all of that goes into a database and then they create these algorithms or these programs in the computer to answer whatever questions they have. That's the name of Acquaint is Advance Answer Questioning Intelligence. And that is the next step is to go beyond seeing what intelligence is there, just to see what's inside what people are thinking or what governments are thinking.

CHETRY: And what are the moral implications here in terms of being so intrusive on civil liberties and people's privacy?

BAMFORD: Well, I think the - you know, if it's used the wrong way, the moral implications are is that you've got a government that is spending taxpayer money trying to get into people's minds to see what they are trying to think. And you know, one of the researchers referred to it as H.O.W., which is that computer that advanced computer in 2001 "Space Odyssey" movie.

And that's the idea is to create a very intelligent computer. And it could be done for perfectly positive reasons or, if there is lack of oversight which has happened in the past -

CHETRY: Right.

BAMFORD: It could have a very negative effect.

CHETRY: If we have this, could we have potentially prevented 9/11?

BAMFORD: Well, it's hard to say. You get the advocates who say that it probably could have because it would have put all of these links together. But, you know, if you look at 9/11 and one of the things on our (inaudible) program tonight is that we show that the government already had, without all of this advanced acquaint system and everything else, the government already had that information and that they were eavesdropping on the terrorists at the same time they were in the United States.

So they had the information. They didn't need all of this advanced technology. You know if they had just concentrated on what they were working on, they probably would have been able to determine what they were going to do.

CHETRY: Fascinating stuff. James Bamford, the author of "the Shadow Factory" and the writer and co-producer of this documentary, "The Spy Factory." Very interesting. Thanks so much for joining us this morning. It airs by the way tonight at 8:00 Eastern and Pacific time on PBS.

ROBERTS: Actor Christian Bale blows up on the set. What sent him into an f-bomb rant? You'll hear the audiotape just ahead. It's 51 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. A live picture now for you from Philadelphia where there is some snow in the forecast today. Already at the high, 34 degrees, by the way. And the snow is going to increase as the day progresses and it's going to get colder as well. So be prepared for flight delays. It could well be a messy one at the airports today.

Actor Christian Bale was caught on tape going off on the director of photography while on the set of the fourth "Terminator" movie. "Terminator Salvation." According to TMZ, Bale accused the man of ruining his scene by walking on the "Terminator" set to check our a light while filming back in July.

When the director of photography try to explain himself, well Bale cut loose.


VOICE OF CHRISTIAN BALE, ACTOR: I'm going to (bleep) kick you (bleep) if you don't shut up for a second alright?

Do you want me to (bleep) trash your lights?

Do you want me to (bleep) trash them?

Then why are you thrashing my scene?

DIR. OF PHOTOGRAPHY: I'm not trying to trash your ...

BALE: You are thrashing my scene! You do it one more (bleep) time and I'm not even walking on this set if you're still hired. I'm (bleep) serious. You're a nice guy. You're a nice guy but that don't (bleep) cut it when you're bull(bleep) and (bleep) around like this on set.


ROBERTS: So how did the tape become public you ask? Well TMZ has reported that an executive sent the recording to the insurance company that backed the movie just in case Bale bailed on the project. "Terminator Salvation" hits the theaters on May 22nd. So far out attempts to reach Bale and his representatives for comment have been unsuccessful.

CHETRY: I know who I won't be asking for an autograph. I don't want to get him upset.

ROBERTS: Unless you got your little beeper handy!


ROBERTS: You're asking me (bleep) autograph.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly. Well do you like the idea of yoga but you're intimidated by all the confusing poses and the chanting and maybe you're embarrassed because you're really not that flexible. Well this class isn't for hippies. It's better suited for yuppies.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the story in today's "Fit Nation." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This isn't your mother's yoga. This is the new face of yoga. Irreverent yoga.

KIMBERLY FOWLER, FOUNDER YAS YOGA: My tag line, no chanting, no Granola. No Sanskrit.

GUPTA: Kimberly Fowler, the founder of Yas Yoga in Venice, California says the om is out and the new yoga, type a busy professional, is in.

FOWLER: To the beginner, you walk into a class and the teacher is teaching Sanskrit and wrapping themselves up in pretzels and you just go. OK, not for me! No, it's a shame to have that experience.

GUPTA: Combining traditional yoga poses with fast-paced modern music and stretches designed to help athletes develop better stamina, Fowler's style of yoga is developing quite a following.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yoga to some people is kind of to say weird but intimidating. This place has always been super welcoming and it allows people to kind of come in here and do their own thing and work at their own pace.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's open enough I think that everyone can take what they need out of it.

GUPTA: IF this popular youtube video isn't proof that the traditions of yoga are falling by the wayside - oohh

Fowler says her seven brand new franchise locations might be.

FOWLER: When I first opened Yas, I got like hate e-mail. Now everybody is trying to do yoga for athletes.

GUPTA: For the type A in all of us.

FOWLER: It calms you down and gives you energy at the same time which is a huge benefit!

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


ROBERTS: Whatever helps. That going to wrap it up for us. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you back here bright and early tomorrow.

CHETRY: Coming up next, CNN NEWSROOM with Heidi Collins.