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American Morning

Obama and Stewart Squares Off; Terror Target: DC Subways; Cholera Outbreak in Haiti; The Unfriendly Skies; Tubeless Toilet Paper; "Unemployed" Superhero

Aired October 28, 2010 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and thank so much for joining us on this Thursday, 28th of October. Good to have you with us. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. We have a lot to talk about this morning.

First for a sitting president. This is a first. Barack Obama making an unprecedented appearance, leader of the free world, last night on "The Daily Show." The White House desperate to reach young voters and reel and core Democrats. So, how did it go for the president?

The highlights and the live report from the White House.

ROBERTS: A chilling terror plot to blow up Washington, D.C. area subway stations, investigators say the suspect thought that he was part of an al Qaeda planned attack, but he was working with the FBI instead.

Homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, live with the details -- just ahead.

CHETRY: She's been dubbed Mexico's bravest woman, taking a job no one else wanted. Now, our Kaj Larsen introduces to the 20-year-old top cop in one of the most violent areas in the world.


KAJ LARSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you afraid of the drug traffickers? Are you afraid of the drug cartel?

MARISOL VALLES GARCIA, POLICE CHIEF (through translator): I have fear. I'm afraid for my security. But this is natural for the chief of police.


CHETRY: We'll see more on how this young woman is taking on the violent drug cartels.

ROBERTS: We begin the hour with a cable TV first: A sitting president appearing on Comedy Central last night just five days remain before Election Day and the stakes could not be higher.

CHETRY: The leader of the free world squaring off with "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart, who some called the leader of America's discouraged left.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": So, you wouldn't -- you wouldn't say you'd run this time as a pragmatist? You would not -- it wouldn't be "yes, we can" given certain conditions and --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITEDS STATES: No, no. I think -- I think what I would say is --


OBAMA: Yes, we can, but it's not --


OBAMA: But it is not going to -- it is not going to happen overnight.


ROBERTS: Ed Henry live at the White House this morning.

So, what's the talk there at 1600 Pennsylvania? How did the president do?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they realize it wasn't perfect. There were some moments that were difficult for the president. But they feel these type of offbeat venues are good. He was on "The View" recently, reached out to female voters. Now, trying to reach to young voters on "The Daily Show."

And it was interesting because it was not full of softballs, there were some fast balls from Jon Stewart, who was basically pressing this president on some of the lofty goals and whether he's really fulfilled some of the promises of change and maybe he was representing sort of that disillusioned left, as you noted. And the president really pushed back hard.


STEWART: You ran with such -- if I may -- audacity. So much of what you said was great leaders lead in a time of opportunity.

OBAMA: Right.

STEWART: We're the ones we are looking for. Yet, legislatively, it's felt timid at times, that I'm not even sure at times what you want out of a health care bill.

OBAMA: And I've -- and this is -- Jon, I love your show.

STEWART: Well, very kind of you.

OBAMA: But --



OBAMA: But this is something where, you know, I have a profound disagreement with --


OBAMA: -- and I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits, but this notion --

STEWART: You may.

OBAMA: You know -- no, no, look, this notion that --


OBAMA: -- health care was timid, you got 30 million people to get health insurance as a consequence of this.


HENRY: Some lighter moments, as well. Such as when the president defended his economic team by saying Larry Summers is doing a heck of a job. Jon Stewart stopping him and saying, "Given the 'Brownie, heck of a job' deal after Katrina, maybe that's not a good idea, dude," as Jon Stewart called the president. And they had a little laugh about that. But maybe this is an opportunity for the president to humanize himself having that sort of give and take -- John, Kiran.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, at any rate, that was a whole lot of fun. Ed, thanks so much.

CHETRY: Thanks, Ed.

ROBERTS: President Obama has made more appearances on TV shows than any other president before him.

Here's more in an A.M. extra. He announced his final four picks on ESPN twice. He became the first sitting president to appear in a late-night show this spring when he sat down with Jay Leno. This summer, he became the first sitting president to visit a daytime talk show when he appeared on "The View."

CHETRY: And don't forget, the Obamas also did Christmas at the White House special with Oprah Winfrey last December and he's not done yet.

So, what's coming up next? Well, the president is going to have a walk-on roll on Discovery Channel's "MythBusters" this December. It's an episode about whether or not it's a myth that Archimedes was able to beat back an army by deflecting the sun's rays in almost like a heat ray gun unto the enemy.

ROBERTS: If he had that hotel in Las Vegas, he might have been able to do it.

Also new this morning, the Pentagon says there will be extra security at this weekend's Marine Corps marathon after a string of shots were fired at American military buildings, including the Pentagon. Sunday's marathon is one of the largest in the country. Thirty thousand runners expected to participate.

CHETRY: A Pakistani-American is in FBI custody this morning, accused of plotting to blow up subway stations in the Washington, D.C. area.

ROBERTS: Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is following developments for us from Washington.

Jeanne, on the surface this seems very troubling, is it?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: According to the indictment, 34-year-old Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, wanted to kill as many military people as possible and cased four metro stations near the Pentagon. He was plotting with people he believed to be members of al Qaeda, but it was a government sting.

The indictment says he provided video and sketches of the stations, recommended attack between 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon when the system would be most crowded, and suggested how to conceal and plant the explosives. Officials say at this point, there is no indication he was working with other extremists in this country or overseas, but the investigation is continuing and sometimes those links do show up later.

He will be making a second court appearance Friday. If he is convicted on all three charges, Ahmed faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.

Officials do emphasize that the public was never in danger. The FBI was aware of this individual and closely monitoring him -- John and Kiran.

CHETRY: It is troubling, though, because this isn't the first plot targeting U.S. mass transit here in the U.S.

MESERVE: No. And certainly, isn't one of the most recent. Najibullah Zazi who was plotting to attack New York subway system, and there have been successful strikes in Spain and India, in Britain.

It's all caused a lot of discussion here in the United States, especially up on Capitol Hill, where people wonder if enough attention is being paid to securing transit systems. It's a very difficult thing to do because of the number of entry and exit points, but you can bet that this case is going to add to the debate over whether more can and should be done -- back to you.

ROBERTS: Jeanne Meserve this morning -- Jeanne, thanks.

A devastating storm that rocked the Midwest is still not done yet. Let's have a look at the satellite image from this morning. Parts of the South and Mid-Atlantic were rocked overnight. Dozens of tornadoes reported in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

Time lapse video taken from yesterday outside of a CNN Center in Atlanta shows just how ominous the system looked as it approached.

Our Rob Marciano is in Atlanta this morning where it's a wholly different day. And we're pretty thankful for that.

Hi, Rob.


Yes, we had a couple of tornado warnings that were issued for the Metro Atlanta area yesterday, but thankfully dissipated. But just to the north and to other spots of Georgia, we had some serious weather. In Cherokee County, Georgia, there was wind damage there. The thunderstorms that produced that yesterday are now beginning to slowly push themselves down to the south and east and get offshore.

But the chainsaws were out in action yesterday. A lot of tree damage in Georgia and much greater damage in places like Richmond, Virginia, and parts of North Carolina, and as you mentioned, Maryland.

Here's where the storms are off the East Coast. So, the Northeast looks good for now and drier, cooler air is moving into this area later on tonight and through tomorrow. And the backside of this would be so cool where we might see some subfreezing temperatures as far south as north Texas. Not frigid stuff but enough to throw on the jacket at least in the morning or evening.

John and Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right, Rob.

Well, you know, we'll be watching, because game one of the World Series went to the Giants and they play again tonight.

ROBERTS: Yes. The San Francisco beat the Texas Rangers 11-7. Battering the Ranger's best pitcher Cliff Lee scoring six runs in the fifth inning to break the game wide open. Game two tonight in San Francisco.

CHETRY: I wonder if Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff will be wearing what has been dubbed his secret weapon. Apparently, it's glittery red thong underwear that he says are his lucky shorts.


CHETRY: We had a pic. We're looking for the picture but, yes, they say -- remember Jason Giambi? Didn't he do that, too?


CHETRY: I think he had a gold thong to help him break out of his batting slump.

ROBERTS: Who cares?

CHETRY: Show the picture. There it is. Aubrey. Who knew that was the trick behind the World Series?

ROBERTS: Well, at least it's just the thong. I thought it was a picture of him actually wearing that. So, we'll leave it at that.

Well, check out the new superhero in town -- talking about tights and other form of underwear -- fighting negative attitudes in a rough economy. It's "Unemployed Man" to the rescue -- coming up on CNN.

CHETRY: And also, New York City is sufficiently terrified because of this bedbug epidemic. Well, now, the pests are spreading to yet another landmark.

Nine minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Eleven minutes past the hour right now.

High winds are being blamed for the tragic death of a Notre Dame University student. Twenty-year-old Declan Sullivan was filming football practice from a video tower yesterday when that tower collapsed as winds gusted to more than 50 miles per hour. They're now investigating the accident. The university, meantime, is holding a special mass in his honor today.

ROBERTS: Well, if you live in New York City, you can be forgiven for having the hevy jevies because the bedbug crisis is growing. The bloodsucking little insects have now been discovered at the offices of -- the United Nations.

Officials first discovered the bedbugs last year. They believed the problem was solved after they fumigated the infested areas. But guess what? They're back.

CHETRY: Ugh, just gives me goose bumps everywhere, even seeing them. Disgusting. And their little babies.

ROBERTS: We had them here at CNN for a while.

CHETRY: Yes, I never saw them here, though.

ROBERTS: They brought in these cute little beagles to sniff them out, too.

CHETRY: Well, all right. So, we switch gears now and talk a little bit about what's going on in Haiti. They've been having a problem in the wake of the earthquake of very, very contagious disease, cholera. It's not peaked yet but the outbreak is there and there are concerns if it reaches the capital city of Port-au-Prince. It's where 1.3 million struggling earthquake survivors are living in makeshift tent cities and they're worried that if it spreads there, things could turn catastrophic.

ROBERTS: Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is in Port-au-Prince this morning with the latest on the outbreak.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How could this have happened? That's what Julie Santos (ph) wants to know.

JULIE SANTOS, RELIEF WORKER: You have someone there, someone here. Let's connect the dots.

GUPTA: She's talking about trying to contain the outbreak of cholera. Hundreds have died, thousands still in need of treatment.

(on camera): I mean this is where you're told to come get supplies. You arrive here and you wait. I mean, if there are patients waiting, what happens?

SANTOS: Well, there are patients waiting.

GUPTA: Those patients waiting for these supplies?

SANTOS: Yes, when we were sending them out to the hospitals down in Saint-Marc.

GUPTA (voice-over): Where patients were literally begging for hydration, clean water, the cheapest of supplies. And yet, medical relief worker Julie Santos still waits for hours for her paper work to be approved before she can get the supplies.

(on camera): How can that happen? That all that life-saving supplies could be in there and people -- so many people, hundreds of people still died?

SANTOS: I don't know. I mean, I don't understand. I'm at a lost, really. I'm trying to figure out why. I can't really get a straight answer.

GUPTA (voice-over): I wanted to try to understand myself. Promess Warehouse, a World Health Organization facility, has the largest stockpile of supplies here in Haiti.

(on camera): What people have been waiting for for hours outside and days in hospitals is this. I mean, pallets of I.V fluids, literally life-saving stuff, to treat these patients with cholera, thousands of them.

But it's not just that pallet. And take a look at this whole warehouse, full, despite what's happening here in Haiti.

CHRISTIAN MORALES (ph): If we send everything we have here today, tomorrow we cannot answer for 100,000 cases (INAUDIBLE).

GUPTA voice-over): Christian Morales has the enormous task of helping o figure out who gets the supplies and when.

(on camera): Explain to me again how you see supplies here from July of this year which is before the outbreak -- well before the outbreak.

MORALES: People -- why you wanted to send it out before the outbreak?

GUPTA: Then why won't you want to send out after the outbreak?

(voice-over): We never did get a good explanation, but what we saw were hydration salts, IV fluids, still sitting in the warehouse.

Did it go fast enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They -- they -- I think every -- in every operation like this, you can do things better. And there are a lot of lessons to be taken up from this, and the country needs to be prepared for what is coming because the likelihood of spreading of these epidemics is very high.

GUPTA: And that's something we heard over and over. This epidemic is by no means over.

The thousands of people who are saved is a great success story. But hundreds of people have died, and they would say, look, I don't understand how all these organizations could have supplies and hundreds of people still died. And you would say what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, we have given away to everyone who has come here to ask for supplies.

GUPTA: But not on this day for Julie Santos. Her paperwork was never approved. And no one could ever tell her why not. She leaves the warehouse empty handed.


GUPTA (on-camera): As you know, cholera's one of these diseases that if you can treat it with pretty basic supplies that you saw there, it's a very treatable disease. Patients will recover. And if you don't treat that, patients can die. So, this is one of those diseases in medicine where you got to get these basic lifesaving supplies to people, and you got to get them there fast and that's what's really driving a lot of this.

Now, one thing that's worth pointing out is that the majority of people who get infected with the bacteria, the cholera bacteria, don't actually get sick, but what they become is carriers moving around the country carrying the bacteria with them and it can be seven or 14 days before they start to excrete that bacteria and that's why they're concerned about a potential second wave of disease. Port-au-Prince behind me, you can see the tent city over here. It looks really hard, maybe different than since I was here a couple of months ago. They're worried about these tent cities potentially becoming infected over the next several weeks.

CHETRY: Just seeing your exchange was maddening. I mean, you're talking about why these supplies have been sitting there since July. That's not what they were meant to do, right? They were meant to go out to people that need them even before this. So, did you ever get a straight answer?

GUPTA: No. Not really. I mean, the answer that you hear is that, look, you know, we're sort of planning for a moving target, so we have to anticipate that maybe a lot of cases in Port-au-Prince or a lot of cases in another part of the country. So, that's why they keep supplies and trying to distribute it accordingly.

But again, Kiran, to your point, is we're not talking about some expensive medical device here or expensive medicine or new diagnostic. It's about most basic lifesaving supplies, you know, saline solution, (INAUDIBLE) of rehydration salts. There's lots of it sitting there. This stuff can go out and can go out fairly quickly.

ROBERTS: So, Sanjay, it begs the point. You know, you had that one woman came up trying to get a little pickup truck full of supplies and couldn't. Why doesn't the government roll a truck up there or one of the other country that's still involved in Haiti relief drop a helicopter into the parking lot, pick up a bunch of that staff, and take it where it's need?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, it's a good question. And, you know, for a couple of days after the outbreak started, there was a lot of confusion, and this may surprise the both of you but what the WHO folks told me and they were really caught blind sided by this whole thing. Despite all the predictions, despite the warnings, and despite the concerns about not having clean water in some of these areas, they were caught blind sided.

So, there wasn't a lot of preparation and then there was this need that they said that we have to have the confirmatory tests of cholera before we're going to let any supplies go, which takes a long time. And eventually, they eased up on that as well. So, they did get some supplies at the same mark, but indeed, it's a good question. I don't know why that doesn't happen.

Right now, a lot of relief organizations, small ones like the ones you saw there, they're the ones doing the majority of distributing here and these are the roadblocks they're dealing with every single day.

CHETRY: That's unbelievable. And the nightmare, unfortunately, continues for Haiti. Sanjay Gupta for us, thanks for showing us firsthand what they're going through.

Still ahead, overpriced food, flight delays, lost baggage, we know that flying the friendly skies, not so friendly anymore, but which airlines were picked as the meanest? We're going to find out coming up. Twenty-minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Uplifting song this morning. "I Hate About Everything About You."

CHETRY: Ugly Kid Joe. It's a good breakup song. Come on.

ROBERTS: Ben Fold's Five is pretty good, too. "Give Me Back My T-Shirt." I want my money back.

It's time for "Minding Your Business" this morning. Before your book your flight home for the holidays, you're going to want to hear what travel experts say are the worst, some might say the meanest, airlines. According to the Airline Quality Rating Report which looked at delays, fees, lost luggage, the third worst airline is -- Alaska Airlines. United Airlines came in second and the worst, the meanest airline -- Delta Airlines came in number one, dead last when it comes to customer satisfaction.

CHETRY: Congrats to all. So, how is this for a marketing ploy to get you into the stores early? Black Friday. When is Black Friday, usually?

ROBERTS: Usually, the day after Thanksgiving.

CHETRY: Not this year. A number of retailers including sears are now rolling out Black Friday now deals starting tomorrow.


CHETRY: So much for having waiting behind (ph) Thanksgiving, right? Analysts say that given the limited budgets, retailers are really trying to capture either that first or second major holiday purchase because they're fearing that, you know, a lot of consumers just simply can't afford to buy any more than that.

ROBERTS: Moving it up almost a month there.

Here's a gift for someone really into the spirit of the midterms. It's the Jimmy McMillan action doll! He's the guy from the rent is too damn high party in New York's gubernatorial race. Remember, he was at the debate. The doll even speaks. You can probably guess what the doll says.

CHETRY: That's right. (INAUDIBLE) is too high. However, he doesn't know firsthand because we found out he doesn't have to pay rent. He's a bartering system with his landlord.

ROBERTS: Do as I say now that I (ph) do.

CHETRY: Well, toilet paper is about to undergo the biggest change in a hundred years. Kimberly Clark Company getting rid of the cardboard tube in its new Scott naturals tube-free toiler paper. It says that removing the estimated 17 billion toilet paper tubes used annually could actually save 160 million tons of trash a year. It'll be available in the northeast first, and if sales are good, expect it nationwide.

ROBERTS: You know, I have traveled to countries where they don't have the little tube in the middle, and it seems to work just fine, but, you know, here in America, we're used to it just kind of rolling off the roll.

CHETRY: Why, this one, it doesn't roll?

ROBERTS: No. It kind of bumps a little bit. Kind of like the restrooms here. It's too much information.

She says she's tired of being afraid, so this 20-year-old criminology student is just become the police chief in one of the most violent places in Mexico. Is she brave or is she foolish? A live report from our Kaj Larsen coming right up.


ROBERTS: Your top stories just minutes away now, but first an "A.M. Original," something that you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING. Policing the community is in the heart of the Mexico's drug war. It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, but there's a new sheriff in town.

CHETRY: We first told you about her last week. She's 20 years old. She's still in college. We sent our Kaj Larsen down to Mexico to meet her. She has the job literally no one else wanted. He joins us live from Los Angeles this morning. So, is she brave or perhaps naive about what she's undertaking?

LARSEN: It's a good question, Kiran. We asked ourselves that question all day long when we were down there filming in the town, but one thing that Frances Bacon (ph) said is that boldness is her bind. Now, I wouldn't say that she is totally naive about the situation that she's in, but the new chief of police is certainly undeterred by the violence erupting around her.


We're headed 60 miles south of El Paso, Texas, into Mexico into the Juarez Valley which is sometimes known by its more sinister the moniker, the valley of death. Meet Marisol Valles Garcia, a 20-year- old university student and mother of a 7-month-old.

Do you know how to shoot a gun?


LARSEN: Have you ever shot a gun?


LARSEN: Marisol is the newest chief of police in one of the most violent places in the world. What do you do in your job as police chief?

GARCIA (via translator): We divide the town into nine different parts so the police officers go around the town.

LARSEN: And 13 officers, nine of them women in this town of 8,000. It's been without a police chief for almost 18 months. Why? Because no one else would take the job.

Are you afraid of the drug traffickers? Are you afraid of the drug cartels?

GARCIA (via translator): I have fear. I'm afraid for my security. This is natural for the chief of police.

LARSEN: That may be true, but this place is anything but natural. Just to give you an idea of how acutely dangerous this job that Chief Garcia has is, the last police chief, her predecessor, they found his head in a box placed right here outside the station. That happened about a year ago.

GARCIA (via translator): this is the weapons bank. We are going to get some new weapons but right now we don't have many. We have two pistols.

LARSEN: This is the one police vehicle. And you can see, there's bullet holes just in the vehicle alone. Small caliber bullet holes right here, right here, right here. Even the entrance to the police station was shot up.

You work underneath the photograph of a man who was killed by the cartels. It must be on her mind.

GARCIA (via translator): Yes. I'm afraid, but we're very focused on prevention.

LARSEN: The Mexican army's been fighting the cartels with force. Chief Garcia is conducting a counterinsurgency campaign. She's trying to win hearts and minds. But still the threats against her are astronomical.

GARCIA (via translator): at the beginning I didn't think of the risk of becoming a police chief but I wanted the job because of my young son and part of my dream to establish the calm and create the peace. I don't care about my age. I care more about what's in my heart. That's why I'm doing it.


LARSEN: So, it continues to be a deadly week here in Mexico and the southern border with Mexico. There was 30 people killed in violence this past weekend alone. But what Chief Garcia is doing seems to represent a little piece of hope for the people in northern Mexico.

ROBERTS: She is a pretty extraordinary woman, no question. Kaj Larsen with that great story this morning, thanks so much.

We're crossing the cross hour now. Here's your top stories. The first for the a sitting president, Barack Obama makes an unprecedented appearance last night on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It was mostly serious with one or two exceptions.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have passed historic health care reform, historic financial regulatory reform. Some things folks don't know about.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": What have you done that we don't know about.


Are you -- are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?



CHETRY: He really knows how to get to the issue, get at the issues and get an answer but still be funny.

ROBERTS: There you go. Nice to have that opportunity.

CHETRY: Up next for President Obama, he will honor the Americans who helped with the rescue of those 33 trapped Chilean miners today and then deliver a few remarks in the rose garden with representatives of NASA as well as several other firms that helped with the rescue.

ROBERTS: And Carly Fiorina is expected back on the campaign trail today. The Republican Senate candidate from California will greet supporters in Sacramento at noon eastern. She spent two days in the hospital to treat an infection stemming from the battle with breast cancer earlier this year.

CHETRY: This year's campaign spending smashing all previous records and we still have five days to go until the midterms. But get this, already $4 billion has been spent.

ROBERTS: That's just an incredible figure. Our senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash joins us live. We knew that this was going to be an expensive midterm, but that's as much if not more on the presidential campaign.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a little bit less than what was spent in the 2008 campaign and it was about what was spent in 2004. And the group that's been tracking campaign spending for three decades said that the amount of campaign cash will obliterate previous records.


BASH: Sure, there's a lot of money flowing in this year's election, but exactly how much being spent is mind-blowing, $4 billion. To put $4 billion in context, that's enough to send about 80,000 students to Princeton for a year. It could buy every person in America three big macs with fries at McGanald's.

And $4 billion is far more than the $2.58 billion spent in the last midterm in 2006 and dwarfs the $1.6 billion more than a decade ago in 1998. compiled the figures in a new report.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: The stakes are so high this cycle it is not surprising there's an intensity to this cycle that was perhaps reduced or missing in the last cycles.

BASH: Though much of the $4 billion is spent by candidates themselves, an eye-popping amount coming from outside candidates' campaigns, political parties, and independent groups, $430 million in overall outside spending. Only $31 million was spent in 2002, less than a decade ago.

And despite Democrats' complaints of being outspent, when it comes to political parties, Democrats are winning. All told, the Democratic Party has raised $782 million, a lot more than the Republican Party at $515 million.

But GOP outside groups with ads like this are making up for that gap and then some. Although Democratic groups are catching up, they're being outspent by GOP counterparts two to one.

Another fascinating 2010 trend -- key industries moving campaign cash from Democrats to Republicans. Take the health care sector. When the president took office, two thirds of its dollars were going to Democrats. Since health care passed, the industry is giving 60 percent to Republicans.

The same goes for money from Wall Street and the energy sector. Just last year both gave mostly to Democrats. Now, 67 percent of Wall Street money goes to Republicans, the energy sector -- 74 percent to Republicans.

KRUMHOLZ: I think they have their finger in their ear and looking at the changing poll numbers and seeing that the Republican haves a clear shot of taking the majority, particularly in the House.


BASH: Now, strategists and experts attribute two things to the record-breaking spending. The highly competitive nature of the election and a recent court ruling, a couple of them, that opened the door to unlimited spending by corporations and unions.

ROBERTS: So you can imagine what's going to happen in 2012.

BASH: Oh my goodness. It's really remarkable. You talk to experts tracking this and they're saying there's a different psychology among donors out there because they know that they can funnel so much more money with the rules and the laws different now. And you're right. If this is the case now, just when we're talking about the election to Congress and governors and others, wait until it's the presidential.

CHETRY: It's interesting that five days out how much more do you think will be spent in five days? Will we see the number just --

BASH: We could.

CHETRY: -- go -- not a billion more?

BASH: That's another interesting point. These estimates are conservative and based on what the groups and the parties, et cetera, filed with the Federal Election Commission. And by the time this is all said and done, could be much higher.

ROBERTS: Imagine if the economy were in good shape, too. Dana, thanks.

BASH: Thank you.

CHETRY: Five days remain before America votes. Make sure to join the best political team on TV all next week. Here on "AMERICAN MORNING" we'll be on an hour early Monday and Tuesday and 3:00 in the morning eastern the morning after Election Day.

ROBERTS: Well, it's a bird, it's a plane. No, it's unemployed man. Meet the latest superhero on the streets fighting negative attitudes and a doom and gloom economy. We'll talk to the co-authors of this new graphic novel. Yep, that's one of them coming up next.

It's 38 minutes after the hour.


ROBERTS: It's coming up now on 19 minutes to the top of the hour. We have had Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and now comes a superhero for our times -- unemployed man. The jobless crusader created by our next guests for their graphic novel, "The Adventures of Unemployed Man."

Joining us is Gan Dolan, and from San Francisco, Erich Origen. Gentlemen, great to see you. Gan, start us off here. You are dressed as the master of degrees. Who's the master of degrees in this graphic novel?

GAN GOLAN, THE ADVENTURES OF "UNEMPLOYED MAN": Well, I'm a graduate student superhero and my power is I'm super overeducated for any of the jobs currently available.

ROBERTS: All right, so you are too qualified.

GOLAN: That's right. And I get to carry around one of these wherever I go, ball and chain. Many viewers can relate to that.

ROBERTS: The ball and chain of student loans. So many kids these days having a hard time with the debt.

Erich, you are Unemployed Man. When's Unemployed Man?

ERICH ORIGEN, THE ADVENTURES OF "UNEMPLOYED MAN": Unemployed Man, yes. I am a jobless crusader. I can send out a thousand resumes in the flash of an eye, bringing comic relief to people. If they can't have actual relief, at least they can have comic relief.

ROBERTS: We should say in the course of the graphic novel, there is an evolution of unemployed man. But he eventually ends up in a position that many Americans find themselves in these days, battling the evil villains, evil villains such as COBRA, the insurance that costs you an arm and a leg to try to keep your benefits going after you've been laid off or fired from your job.

Also, Plastic, and so many people with so much debt rolled into the credit cards. He also has to battle with nickel and dime, super charge and FICO. Erich, you are a freelance writer who lives job to job. Did some of this come from personal experience for you?

ORIGEN: Absolutely. From personal experience and also from talking to people, listening to people as Unemployed Man does. And over the course of the book, he goes from fighting every day villains like the ones you mentioned to larger villains in the economy, to talk to debt blog, the invisible hand itself.

And so part of the book and the great thing about the superhero genre is we can take forces, economic forces and ideologies that are normally invisible and make them visible in this great way in the book.

ROBERTS: It really is so interesting the way that you have taken these everyday things that people are facing and you have made them into a beautiful graphic novel. This really is a high quality piece of work.

And Gan, we should say the evolution of Unemployed Man, he was Ultimatum. He was the alter ego of Bruce Pain, a play off of Bruce Wayne from the "Batman" series. He gets kicked out of his position at CEO of Pain Enterprises by the board and becomes unemployed man.

But he was going around as ultimatum the super hero to the unemployed with a condescending attitude, saying you're lazy. You just need to get a better attitude to get a job. You say in the graphic novel, quote, "If only they had a sense of fairness and decency and the just rewards waiting for those that work hard and play by the rules."

But your graphic novel illustrates the point that playing by the rules doesn't really work anymore.

GOLAN: That's right. The character, the Ultimatum, is the dark knight of self-help, a motivational vigilante that basically blames people for failing rather than looking at the fact that the maybe the economic system is what's broken. So he gives them the ultimatum, which to think positive or get punched in the face. ROBERTS: You say in here, Erich, that the economic system is broken. That ladder doesn't work anymore. And if the economy is favoring anyone, it is favoring the elites and not people in the working class.

ORIGEN: That's right. Bruce Pain is actually fired for merely suggesting fairness with a relative wage multiplier. That's how he becomes Unemployed Man and the "U" on his suit takes on a different meaning.

And from then on he begins to understand what people are going through and he teams up with other heroes who are down but not yet out. And at one point, he has a confrontation with "Super Lotto," who -- who is the "Super Lotto" incarnate and he tells them that the lottery is now the only way that anyone can climb to the top because the -- the economic ladder as you said is broken.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Gan, the master of degrees, you -- you and Eric -- Unemployed Man were in Times Square recently. You -- you were a favorite among people who wanted to snap some photos but who -- who -- what are you hearing about this graphic novel and who -- who is really appreciating your sense of seriousness and humor all at the same time?

GAN GOLAN, MASTER OF DEGREES: Well, it's been really interesting. Because it seems that the harder a time that people are having right now, the more they really seem to love the book. They see themselves and their friends as the characters in the book.

And, that's -- that's really wonderful that we're able to kind of lift some of that emotional burden that people are feeling right now as we're all struggling together through this economic recession.

ROBERTS: Well, it really is an interesting approach to the economic situation that we're in right now. Gan Golan, the "Master of Degrees", as well as Erich Origen, "Unemployed Man", great to talk to you this morning. Congratulations. I really like the book -- Kiran.

ORIGEN: Thank you.

CHETRY: All right.

Well, still ahead we're going to have more on the monster storm that slammed parts of the Midwest. In the east, finally it's moving away but we are not in the clear. There are now new freeze warnings just in time for Halloween.

Rob Marciano breaks it down for us next.


CHETRY: A shot of Atlanta this morning as we listen to a new song by Arrested Development. It is 68 degrees. A little bit later, they are looking at some morning showers. It's 74 for a high in Atlanta. ROBERTS: Arrested Development, who will be joining Kyra Phillips coming up in just a few minutes in the "CNN NEWSROOM." They'll be playing live this morning.


ROBERTS: Our Rob Marciano in Atlanta and he's taking a look at the weather forecast for the rest of the country and the rest of the day. Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey good morning guys. Yes, Arrested Development right behind camera four with Kyra. It's making -- glad handing everybody. Can we put on camera -- what camera is this, guys? I can't even tell what camera is in front of me.


MARCIANO: Anyway, I don't think I can switch that from New York. But they -- they have been sound checking all morning. I can't hear myself think but they sound fantastic.

ROBERTS: Excellent.

MARCIANO: You can see them later on today.

All right, guys listen. There are some thunderstorms to the south moving south, towards the Florida panhandle. This is what's leftover. It went through the south and mid-Atlantic yesterday. Some damage out of Richmond, Virginia, a serious situation here just north of town. Luckily, no serious injuries from this but definitely a tornado and they'll go out there today and determine just how strong it was just north of Richmond there.

A woman was trapped in her car briefly and obviously a lot of trees down. But you know from all that happened this week with this monster storm and all of the tornadoes that dropped, extremely, extremely lucky that we didn't have any tornado-related deaths with this.

This storm is now going to be moving to the south and they'll eventually be offshore. They're already offshore up north so we're drying out from Boston, to Philly, to D.C., where it was nothing compared to what they saw out west and down to the south.

Out west or in the mid-West and mid-section we're looking at temperatures tonight that will get down to near the freezing mark. So some freeze warnings are posted and some frost and freeze advisories.

Out west, Seattle, some showers. Some rain trying to move into San Francisco. And there might be some action there tonight for the World Series. 94 degrees in Houston yesterday, that was hot. And now they'll be cooler.

And here's a World Series forecast; 48 degrees -- 58 degrees game two. Although it pains me to mention this considering the Yankees didn't get there, I still have to throw it up there. And I forgot to put in the Halloween trick or treat forecast. I apologize for that. It's on max. This is for you, John. This is the Saturday night trick or treat forecast. This is the adult party forecast.

ROBERTS: Yes, yes.

MARCIANO: This will help you determine what you're going to wear Saturday night, John, to whatever you're doing in New York. It'll be 52 degrees and 60 degrees in Atlanta.

CHETRY: At least that's the indoor party. We need to know what's going on Sunday when the little kids are actually out.

MARCIANO: We will -- we will get that graphically for you tomorrow.

ROBERTS: All right, I'm looking forward to it. And looking forward to Arrested Development this morning, too; that will be great.

MARCIANO: Yes. That will be great.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

CHETRY: All right, well, if you want to improve your tennis game, try a little Alka-Seltzer? It might do the trick -- next.


ROBERTS: It's time for your "A.M. House Call" and stories about your health this Thursday morning.

A new study is linking the chemical BPA, Bisphenol A, to poor sperm quality in men. Pay attention. Kaiser Permanente studied over 500 workers in Chinese factories over a five-year-period and found that men who had high levels of BPA in their urine had two to four times the risk of low sperm concentration and low sperm vitality and motility.

BPA is found in many plastic products including baby bottles -- some baby bottles because there's a lot BPA-free baby bottles -- pacifiers and even the liners of food containers.

CHETRY: Yes, you've got to watch, you've got to check those out. And also --

ROBERTS: Yes, you don't want your -- your boys, you know, having a problem. So --

CHETRY: Yes. Well, I mean, for a number of other reasons, as well. I mean, this is just one of the latest studies.

ROBERTS: Yes, I'm a guy. It's the only reason. That's all we care about. CHETRY: Well, more tries aren't necessarily better when it comes to in-vitro fertilization. There's a new fertility study showing that a woman's odds of getting pregnant don't improve much after two unsuccessful in-vitro treatments.

Researchers found about one in three women have a baby the first time they try it. Those odds improve to nearly one in two with a second try. A third cycle did little to boost success rates although there are many personal stories out there --

ROBERTS: Oh yes.

CHETRY: -- among my friends who made it happen.

ROBERTS: Yes. There's one person I know, five times.


ROBERTS: Before it took. So, keep hanging in there.

And Alka-Seltzer could be just the fix for your back hand. Researchers in Taiwan found that drinking bicarbonate of soda before a tennis match minimized declines on accuracy that are caused by fatigues. It seems to hold true with other sports as well.

The accumulation of acidic hydrogen ions in the blood and muscles causes fatigue. The bicarbonate neutralizes those ions and researchers say that appears to keep athletes stronger longer. You know, they've done all kinds of studies using bicarbonate soda with even baking soda with athletes and found that there's an affect but it's not that big of an affect.

CHETRY: Interesting, though.

Well, if you're stressed out or burned out because of the bad economy, you're not alone. Playing hooky has reportedly become more common. But you may want to think twice about calling in sick if you're going to try one of these excuses.

CareerBuilder put out their list of most unusual excuse for calling in sick to work.

ROBERTS: Yes, some of the weirdest ones that they came across, "I can't come in today because my finger's stuck in a bowling ball."

CHETRY: That's pretty plausible. That could happen.

ROBERTS: Couldn't take off the bowling shirt either. That's another reason they're not coming to work.

Have to mow the lawn to avoid getting in trouble with the homeowner's association.

I can't come in today because -- here it is -- I'm not feeling clever enough.

CHETRY: Oh, we'd never show.

ROBERTS: And how about this one? I fell asleep at work and hit your head resulting in a neck injury so I can't come in.

CHETRY: Congratulations if that works for any of you guys.

ROBERTS: My goodness. The bowling ball and the finger -- that's an interesting one.

Fifty-seven and a half minutes after the hour, we'll be right back.


CHETRY: Well, that's going to do it for us today. It's Friday eve -- so, you have that to look forward to. We'll see you back here bright and early tomorrow morning.

ROBERTS: The news continues and the music, as well, on CNN with Kyra Phillips in the "CNN NEWSROOM". Arrested Development.