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CNN Saturday Morning News

Limbaugh Strikes Deal with Drug Charges; Crooks Go High Tech to Steal ATM Numbers

Aired April 29, 2006 - 07:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Off the hook -- conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh strikes a deal with Florida prosecutors. They will drop the charge of doc shopping for painkillers. That's if Limbaugh completes a drug treatment program. Limbaugh must also pay $30,000 to help offset the cost of the investigation.
We'll have more on the deal in about a minute.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you hear that? Nasty, nasty and more nasty -- that pretty much sums up the stormy night across much of north Texas. The Panhandle got hit with strong winds, hail and heavy rain. Now, several towns lost power and parts of Interstate 35 had to be shut down for a while after power lines fell on the road.

HARRIS: Cyclone, typhoon, hurricane -- whatever you call it, the storm that's raging off the coast of East Asia. It's packing winds of up to 150 miles per hour. Dubbed Cyclone Mala, the storm whipped through Myanmar, downing trees and creating massive waves and flooding. No injuries reported so far, but Cyclone Mala is expected to intensify.

NGUYEN: And a new video message from a terrorist leader to tell you about. The latest comes from al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman el- Zawahiri. The tape surfaced late last night on an Islamist Web site. The 15-minute video is titled, "A Message To the People of Pakistan." And on it, el-Zawahiri praises al Qaeda's operatives in Iraq.

HARRIS: Well, how does this happen, Betty?

Texans say no to Bush!


HARRIS: Yes to Mario? Reggie Bush, that is, and Mario Williams. Impress your sports friends with this one. The NFL draft NFL draft gets underway in a few hours. But the Houston Texans made their move last night. Stay right here. CNN's Rick Horrow has the draft day scoop in about 15 minutes.

Welcome -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Good morning.

HARRIS: We'll, see here's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

NGUYEN: Why are you acting so surprised? HARRIS: Well, you're back.

NGUYEN: I saw you last week.

HARRIS: Yes, we were together on Monday -- was it Monday and Tuesday?

NGUYEN: Monday and Tuesday.

HARRIS: But you're back...

NGUYEN: How quickly u forget.

HARRIS: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You're back with everyone who tunes in to see you in your regular time slot here on CNN.

So welcome back.

NGUYEN: Thanks.

Good to be back.

This is the show.

Glad you're watching.

HARRIS: Up there on the big AMERICAN MORNING show there in New York City.

NGUYEN: I love New York City, but it's not the same without my partner, Tony.

HARRIS: Where's my gift anyway?

NGUYEN: Exactly.

HARRIS: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

7:00 a.m. here in Atlanta and 6:00 a.m. in Dallas, where storms brought heavy rain and hail this morning.

Good morning.

NGUYEN: My mom was talking about that yesterday, all the storms there in Dallas.

HARRIS: Right.

NGUYEN: We'll be talking about that a little bit later on.

Good morning, everybody.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

We want to thank you for being with us. Coming up this morning, desperate drivers are tuning up, inflating tires, searching for ethanol and biodiesel and buying gadgets plus some gizmos that promise better gas mileage. But is it just a waste of money? We're going to find out in 40 minutes.

Also, Howard Dean -- the name alone means grassroots political campaigning. The Democratic chairman may come knocking on your door today. He comes knocking on ours about two hours from now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cleveland just called. There's a United 93 and the controller heard screams coming from the cockpit. It sounds like...


NGUYEN: "United 93," the film about the last plane hijacked on 9/11, is operating in theaters nationwide. In fact, it opened yesterday.

Is it too soon, though, for still grieving loved ones?

We'll talk with some of them at 10:00 Eastern this morning.

HARRIS: And now our top story, the deal behind the Rush Limbaugh plea. The conservative talk show host was booked on a single charge of prescription fraud late yesterday, but he won't go to trial. That's left many wondering what's the deal?

Limbaugh's legal problems began three years ago, when he admitted he was addicted to prescription painkillers. How he got those drugs has been at the center of his legal problems.

Here's CNN's national correspondent, Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flashing a smile as he posed for a mug shot, Rush Limbaugh negotiated a deal that, in the end, can assure him a clean record.

ROY BLACK, LIMBAUGH'S ATTORNEY: What he does say is that he was addicted to prescription pain medication, which, of course, he admitted back in 2003 when all this began. So he has adamantly said he has not committed a crime.

CANDIOTTI: According to his lawyers, the agreement with the Palm Beach state attorney's office goes like this. Limbaugh pleads not guilty to one count of doctor shopping. He must complete another year-and-a-half of drug treatment. If he does, the charge will be dropped. Finally, the radio host must pay $30,000 to help offset the public cost of the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe I'm talking to you. CANDIOTTI: Rush Limbaugh's nightmare began in the fall of 2003. His former housekeeper sold a blockbuster story to the "National Enquirer." Wilma Cline claims she illegally sold the popular conservative talk show host thousands of prescription painkillers, including Oxycontin and Hydrocodone.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: I really don't know the full scope of what I am dealing with.


CANDIOTTI: A week later, Limbaugh admitted a problem.


LIMBAUGH: I am addicted to prescription pain medication.


CANDIOTTI: With that, Limbaugh left the air for a month of treatment. He blamed unrelenting pain from spinal surgery years earlier. He claimed his former employee tried to blackmail him and said he paid her what he called "extortion money," but was afraid to go to authorities.

Later that year, investigators raided Limbaugh's doctors' offices in Florida and California. In search warrants, prosecutors said Limbaugh was part of an ongoing investigation that began a year earlier and appeared to be doctor shopping for painkillers, going from doctor to doctor to get more pills.

Authorities said pharmacy records showed Limbaugh obtained more than 2,000 pills over a six-month period. Limbaugh claims local prosecutors are unfairly targeting him compared to others in similar predicaments. He says his constitutional right to privacy was violated by the raid.

On the air, he also suggested Democrats were to blame.


LIMBAUGH: The Democrats in this country still cannot defeat me in the arena of political ideas and so now they're trying to do so in the court of public opinion and the legal system.


CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors defended the search warrant.

JAMES MARZ, PROSECUTOR: Has it now been reduced to we have to notice the target of an investigation that we want to look at the evidence if a felony is committed?

CANDIOTTI: Eventually, despite appeals all the way to Florida's Supreme Court, Limbaugh lost his privacy battle to keep his doctors' records out of prosecutors' hands. And after a two-and-a-half year long legal odyssey, the radio talk show host may soon be able to end his doctor shopping scandal.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.


HARRIS: Well, there you have it. We've laid out the details for u. What do you think now of the Rush Limbaugh case? Did he get off too easily?

Send us your thoughts at and we will read some of your comments throughout the morning.

NGUYEN: New information this morning about the scope of the Justice Department's investigation of suspected terrorists. In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, the Justice Department revealed for the first time the number of people they investigated under the umbrella of the Patriot Act.

Now, last year, more than 9,000 national security letters were issued and the FBI secretly looked for information on more than 3,000 U.S. citizens and legal residents.

Meantime, the Justice Department wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the Bush administration's domestic wiretapping program. Four of AT&T customers say that the telecommunication company's cooperation with government surveillance of phone and Internet communications violates federal law and their constitutional rights.

Back in December, President Bush admitted he authorized the NSA to intercept communications between suspected terrorists overseas and in the U.S. as a tool in the war on terror.

Critics say the program is an assault on civil liberties.

You want to stay tuned to CNN both day and night for the most reliable information about your security.

HARRIS: As we talked about at the top of the program, take a look at this. Marble-sized hail in Marble Falls, Texas. Hmm. Spring storms pelted the Texas hill country with heavy rain and hail.

More rain expected today in South Asia. Storm warnings are posted along the coast of Bangladesh. One hundred mile an hour Cyclone Mala is churning across the Bay of Bengal toward the seacoast. Just a -- it's just a mess right now.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's just a snapshot of the whole ball that's going on.


NGUYEN: Reynolds Wolf joins us now from the CNN Weather Center with a look at this crazy weather outside -- Reynolds.


And we've got it on both sides of the globe.

Let's begin with the biggest storm on the planet. And that's going to be Mala.

We're going to zoom in a little bit closer and give you an idea of what the storm is doing. This storm has made landfall. In fact, it made landfall in Burma. They're expecting very heavy rainfall in Rangoon, possible flooding in Thailand. But one good thing about this storm is that once it makes its way onshore, which it already has, it's going to lose its main source of energy, which would be the warm ocean waters. So when it comes onshore, it is in its death throes. It begins to fall apart.

That's certainly good news, but still people in this part of the world have to deal with the flooding, with the possibility of mudslides in high elevations. It could be a mess.

Meanwhile, back on our own corner of the world, we're dealing with a rough weather outbreak in parts of Texas again. We showed you the marble-sized hail in Marble Falls. Now, at this time, we have a tornado watch that is in effect for portions of Texas, moving into parts of Louisiana and Arkansas until 1:00 this afternoon.

We have a couple of tornado warnings in Montgomery County. Also in San Jacinto County, Nacogdoches, back over to Huntsville.

Huntsville, you're in the clear, but Nacogdoches, you're going to deal with those scattered showers and storms as they roll on through.

We're going to keep a very close eye on this corner of the world throughout the rest of the morning and into the afternoon and evening, if need be -- back to you.

NGUYEN: All right, we'll stay on top of it, Reynolds.

Thank you.

WOLF: You bet you.

HARRIS: Why did I just slam the desk?

I don't know -- what was that about?

NGUYEN: You've got some weird little quirks.


Still ahead, crooks go high tech to steal your ATM number and your money. We'll tell you how to protect yourself the next time you get some cash.

NGUYEN: Plus, when the price of gasoline spikes, so do sales of gadgets that claim they're going to save you gas. So, is there a magic pill for the gas price blues?

Well, we'll have our gadget reality check. That's ahead.



HARRIS: A star spangled controversy over the national anthem. Why a new Spanish version of the song is causing some serious outrage.



NGUYEN: All right, it is hard to imagine how we all survived before the ATM, you know, the automatic teller machine, just in case you didn't know. But like all modern conveniences, the electronic piggy bank also provides opportunities for criminal mischief.

CNN's Dan Lothian found some examples for CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a convenient way to get cash. And for criminals, it's a convenient way to steal it.

LARRY JOHNSON, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: I think initially we saw big cities that were hit the hardest. But now it can be Anywhere USA.

LOTHIAN: With up to $15 billion in ATM transactions each year, it's a tempting target for criminals like Amil Cardocho (ph).

(on camera): He secretly targeted ATM users in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and was recently convicted on multiple count of aggravated identity theft and bank fraud.

(voice-over): Caught on surveillance tape, Cardocho was part of a debit card skimming ring that investigators say withdrew about $400,000 over two years, a sophisticated scheme that police say worked like this. A fake swiping box is mounted on the door of a bank's ATM machine area to record credit card numbers. A small hidden camera near the keypad, linked to a criminal's laptop computer just around the corner, captures passwords. And, finally, blank credit cards are imprinted with customer information -- everything needed to get quick cash.

Professor Stuart Madnick, an information technology expert at MIT's Sloan School of Management, says whether it's ATM or Internet scams, people need to always be on alert.

STUART MADNICK, MIT-SLOAN SCHOOL: It's a constant case where new technology comes up. Many times it helps protect us, and then innovative people find ways to use that technology against us. LOTHIAN: Experts say ATM users should always shield pin numbers as they're entered, look for unusual signs or devices and check statements frequently. Even then, criminals are always reinventing their tactics, creating more challenges for law enforcement.

JOHNSON: We try to stay one step ahead of technology.

LOTHIAN: As for Cardocho, he faces more than 30 years in prison and stiff fines. He'll be sentenced next month.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


NGUYEN: So while banks always refund stolen money, non-bank ATMs are not required to do so. Now, some lawmakers are pushing for more government oversight in order to protect consumers.

And this programming note for you. Join Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien every weekday for "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

HARRIS: Fuel for thought this morning -- can a car really run-on vege-table oil?

NGUYEN: Vege-table?

HARRIS: Isn't that what that said there?

Or will an electromagnetic chip increase your gas mileage?

Coming up, we'll find out if these tactics can actually solve the soaring price of gas.

NGUYEN: Yes, does French fry grease really work? We'll explore that.

Plus, most college students would love to get a job fresh out of school that pays $75,000 a year. But not if they jump from the campus to the pro-football arena.

Here's a quiz for you. Check it out. What is the minimum salary for NFL players?

A, $100,000 a year; B, $200,000 a year; C, $275,000 a year; or, D, $400,000 a year?

HARRIS: Well, the answer when the man known as the sports professor joins us live when we take you beyond...


HARRIS: Now, you shouldn't be talking right now, Rick.

When we take you "Beyond The Game."

We'll be right back.



HARRIS (voice-over): OK, before the break we asked if you knew the minimum salary for an NFL player.

Is it $100,000 a year, $200,000 a year, $275,000 or $400,000 a year?

If you said C, $275,000, you're right. That's what's at stake for most of the college players who will go in the NFL draft later today.

However, for Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart or national champion Vince Young of Texas and other potential first rounders, that $275,000 could be chump change. In fact, the average NFL salary is expected to be more than $1.3 million this year.


HARRIS: The theme of this year's draft is "Dreams Start Here." And for some, that is certainly true.

Let's follow the money this morning with the author of "When the Game Is On the Line" and sports business analyst Rick Horrow, who joins us live, as he does every week, from West Palm Beach, Florida -- Rick, good morning to you.

HORROW: Good morning, my intelligent friend.

How are you this morning?

HARRIS: I am outstanding.


HARRIS: I'm a little confused, though, I have to admit that.

I go to bed last night and I'm thinking Reggie Bush is the number one pick in the NFL draft this year going to the Texans. I wake up this morning and then I learn that this Mario Williams first, has already been signed.

So what are the implications of this deal?

HORROW: Imagine if you're Reggie Bush. You go to bed thinking you can spend this, you wake up thinking you can only spend this.

HARRIS: Oh, good.

HORROW: The different slots between the top five, six picks, $5 million to $7 million in endorsements. So it's a very interesting week. Overall, it's great for salaries. By the way, the salary cap 10 years ago in the NFL was in the 30 millions of dollars per team. This year it's going to be $100 million times the 32 teams. That means $3.3 billion available for salaries. A lot of that goes to the existing veterans, as it should. But much of the highly visible salary number goes to these rookies. That's why we talk about, on the eve of the draft, the Vince Youngs from that non-descript national champion team and the Reggie Bush and some of those others, for example.

HARRIS: Yes. You're very good.

So, you know, let's talk about the importance of being one of these high draft picks and the money that can be made. And the city that drafts you, I guess, in both cases it's all about location.

HORROW: Well, it's location and it's also net worth. For example, you know, the teams that have a lot of money to spend under the cap are the ones that haven't been spending before. So it's Green Bay -- although they just signed a big corner back and defensive back for them. But Arizona, Minnesota, for example, San Diego, they have dollars under the cap that are available more so than not.

When you're drafted, you have very little leverage in that situation. It's up to your agents.

Vince Young has a relatively new agent named Major White. Wish them luck. You know, Reggie Bush has a great endorsement deal with Adidas, by the way. He probably needs an endorsement from a mortgage company after his housing flap recently, but he does have the have some money and that's important.

And, of course, Matt Leinart signed with Creative Artists. He wants to go to Hollywood. He wants to be an actor. So he'll pick up some very significant endorsement dollars.

But the bottom line, as you and I know, Tony, you've got to play well.

HARRIS: You've got to perform.

Hey, if you're coming out and you're eligible for this year's draft, boy, this is -- you have, with the new collective bargaining agreement, you can make some cash this year, can't you?

HORROW: It's all about parity, but it's all about new money. You know, Sprint signed a $600 million deal to cover the entire draft and the high technology. That means more money to spend between the high revenue teams, the low revenue teams. There's about $900 million more that's changing hands over this new collective bargaining agreement.

What does that mean? More money for players. So, the $500 million that was available for free agents has been spent. But if you're coming out, the average salary, as we know, is over $1.2 million. But it's going to rise. So if you still have some eligibility left, you ought to go back to school, you ought to get some football moves. You already say you're a good athlete, so you're just one step removed from making an NFL salary.

HARRIS: Knee replacement, hip replacement, for starters.

Hey, you know, a couple of really great basketball games in the playoffs last night. And -- but particularly in the Los Angeles Lakers game. A lot of pushing and shoving. And I know your foul ball this week has to do with suspensions and rowdy players.

HORROW: Yes. Yes, pushing, shoving...


HORROW: ... throwing an eye guard or a mouth guard at an official.

HARRIS: That's right. That's right.

HORROW: Pushing and shoving officials. Udonis Haslem of The Heat, Ron Artest of the Sacramento Kings, Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets all suspended early in the playoffs for on court contact. The NBA wants to be known now as a kinder, gentler league. That doesn't help.

HARRIS: What about your fair ball this week?

HORROW: It's a really good set of stories.

At the LPGA tournament this week in Orlando, Kellen Winslow, the youngest African-American player, made her debut on the circuit this week, a sponsor's exemption. And even more compelling, maybe, a 13- year-old golfer, Dakoda Dowd, whose mom is dying of terminal cancer, was granted a sponsor's exemption. She didn't make the cut, but she shot a 74 in the first round on Thursday, which is much better than me and a heck of a lot better than you can ever play, my friend.

HARRIS: I saw that coming from Des Moines.

HORROW: Yes, you did, man.

HARRIS: And good to see you, my friend.

HORROW: The best way to cover it.

HARRIS: Yes, good.

HORROW: I'll see u.

HARRIS: Good to see you.

See you next week.

NGUYEN: All right. HARRIS: All right, Rick.

NGUYEN: Yes, nice to see nothing has changed between you two.

HARRIS: Right.

NGUYEN: No love lost there.

OK, let's talk about something a little bit different -- legal drugs in Mexico. We're talking heroin and cocaine. That may be the case if Vicente Fox signs a new bill into law. We'll have those details -- good morning, Danielle.


A new video message from al Qaeda's number two man has surfaced on a Web site. I'll have the details for you when we go global, next.

WOLF: Hi, everyone.

I'm Reynolds Wolf with a look at your Fairway Forecast.

And one of the best places in the country today to play golf would be at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, where we're expecting a lot of sunshine today. But by the afternoon, there will be a chance of a few showers and storms. Temperatures on the back nine are going to rise all the way into the 80s. About 82 degrees for a high, with wind out of the south at 15 to 25 miles per hour.

That's a look at your Fairway Forecast.


NGUYEN: Now in the news, a three-year investigation of talk show host Rush Limbaugh ends with a single charge. Limbaugh was booked on a prescription fraud charge yesterday and released. There's the mug shot right there. Believe it or not, that is the mug shot.

Prosecutors say they'll drop the charge after 18 months if he continues a drug treatment program.

Limbaugh's attorney says he also agreed to pay $30,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.

Listen to that. Parts of Texas get pelted with hail and heavy rain. Strong storms rumbled across central and northern Texas yesterday. Ooh. Rain just blowing in sideways at times. Several towns reported power outages. A portion of Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma border was shut down briefly because of downed power lines.

Well, spectacular pictures from a huge brush fire in Brevard County, Florida. Look at this. The fire more than doubled in size yesterday, from 850 acres to about 1,800 acres. That blaze and a smaller one nearby shut down portions of Interstate 95 and a state highway. But the roads have since reopened. Officials say no homes were destroyed. Well, who says science can't be exciting? A robotics championship in Atlanta is giving high school students a chance to learn and have fun-all at the same time. Students in the U.S. and five other countries competed in regional events to make it to the championship. Now, it's aimed at promoting science and technology.

HARRIS: So, here's the thing. The "Star Spangled Banner" is the theme song for this country. It's part of America's soundtrack, if you will. But now there's a Spanish version of the national anthem. It's the same musical arrangement with slightly different lyrics.

Take a listen.


HARRIS: So, this altered national anthem is causing quite a stir. Even President Bush weighed in on it.

CNN's John Zarrella has the story.



UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave...


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does it make a difference whether the national anthem is sung in English...


ZARRELLA: ... or in Spanish?


ZARRELLA: ... with different lyrics like "in fierce combat, the sign of victory" and "struggle ablazing at the site of liberty?"

It appears to be making a big difference. The notion of a Spanish version is raising so much controversy, even the president weighed in.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a cultural question for u. There is a version of the national anthem in Spanish now.

Do you believe it will hold the same value if sung in Spanish as in English?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't. I think the national...

QUESTION: Why not? BUSH: Because I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English. And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.

ZARRELLA: The song, called "Nuestro Himno," or our anthem, features Latin pop artists and a Haitian-American star, Wyclef Jean. Its release is timed to coincide with Congress's return to Washington next week and the renewal of the debate over immigration reform.

Adam Kidron, president of the company that handled the project, says it's definitely meant to send a message.

ADAM KIDRON, URBAN BOX OFFICE: We're trying to give the undocumented immigrants a real expression of patriotism.

ZARRELLA: It's not only sent a message, it's hit a nerve.

NEAL BOORTZ, TALK RADIO HOST: What do you think about this new Spanish language national anthem?

ZARRELLA: Neal Boortz, a conservative radio talk show host, is outraged.

BOORTZ: They've already published magazine articles in Mexico- saying Los Angeles is ours. Now our national anthem is theirs also?

ZARRELLA: In New York, the epitome of this nation's melting pot culture, there was, as you might expect, a mix of opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's great. OK. Where can I hear it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm torn, because my parents are immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about America so I think it, you know, it should be in English.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should keep it as is.

ZARRELLA: The producers say it's everybody's song. Critics say everybody should sing it in English.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


NGUYEN: Well, it may soon be no crime to smoke pot, snort coke or even shoot heroin in Mexico.

HARRIS: What are you talking -- oh.

NGUYEN: I'm not kidding here. President Vicente Fox has the legislation on his desk. Now it would allow possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, even heroin. It would also allow having small amounts of other drugs like LSD, amphetamines.

A spokesman says the law will allow police to focus on major dealers instead of the small ones. And the critics of the bill say it puts an official OK on drug use.

There's been a new tape from a top al Qaeda leader.

HARRIS: With more on this, Danielle Elias is at the International Desk for us this morning -- Danielle, good morning.

ELIAS: Good morning, Tony.

Let's get straight to that story.

Ayman el-Zawahiri has shown his face again in a taped message on the Internet. The number two man in al Qaeda praises insurgent attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. He says insurgents have "broken the back of America in Iraq."

Now, the message also attacks Pakistan's president, calling him "a traitor who put his country's nuclear program under American supervision."

In Southeast Asia, the powerful cyclone called Mala has made landfall on the coast of Myanmar. The Red Cross says two people are dead and dozens injured and hundreds of homes have been damaged. The storm packed winds up to 150 miles per hour. But the wind has calmed after hitting land. Heavy rain is flooding in some areas.

Well, a small zoo in southern Japan is boasting two baby lemurs. These little fuzz balls have become a huge tourist attraction. You can see them right there. Here's a little bit about them.

The black and white lemur is vegetarian and eats mainly fruit. They are now about two feet long and can grow up to four feet. Both males and females look the same, with black and white markings and a rough of long white fur around their ears and neck.

Sad to say, lemurs are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union. Only a few thousand of them still live on the African island of Madagascar -- Tony.


NGUYEN: How cute are those?

Why are you shaking your head, Tony?

HARRIS: I don't know why, but I just -- never mind.

No, I'm not going to say it.

NGUYEN: No, no, no. No...

HARRIS: No, no.

NGUYEN: No, you have to say it.

ELIAS: Go ahead.

You have to now.

NGUYEN: You can't do that.

HARRIS: No. No, no, no.


HARRIS: No, it's -- I'll get e-mails.


HARRIS: I'll get e-mails.

ELIAS: Uh-oh.

HARRIS: I'll get notes from upstairs on the sixth floor.

ELIAS: Or maybe you'll get a lemur.

HARRIS: Or maybe I'll get -- it's what I would do with a lemur is the problem.

NGUYEN: Oh, look, it's only 7:30 in the morning.

HARRIS: Exactly.

NGUYEN: Let's not even go there.

HARRIS: I'm trying. It's way too early.

Thank you, Danielle.

NGUYEN: Scary.

Danielle, don't leave me.

All right, we'll talk to you soon.

Listen out for the doorbell, folks, because Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean could be headed to your house. Coming up at 9:00 Eastern, Howard Dean talks to us about gearing up for the elections and his door to door effort to spread the Democratic message.

HARRIS: But first, can a vehicle really run-on vege-table oil? Or can a magic pill -- ooh, here's a thought -- a magic pill to reduce your gas costs? People are trying all sorts of alternative methods, but do they work?

We put some alternative fuel and so-called gas saving gadgets to the test when we come back.



WOLF: You know, my mom always told me never to hate anything. But I hate allergies and I'm sure you do, too. And people that happen to be living in the Central Plains and parts of the Gulf Coast, well, they've got allergies pretty bad this time of year. Today is certainly not a good day for them.

But in the Northern Plains, especially into parts of Montana and into the Dakotas, ah, they are breathing easy.

That is a look at today's Allergy Forecast.

I'm Reynolds Wolf.


NGUYEN: All right, Reynolds, I don't know if you were listening to that lemur story, but Tony is thinking about barbecuing today.

HARRIS: Oh, come on!

NGUYEN: How is the weather outside for that?

WOLF: You know, I'm with Tony. I'm thinking good eating.

NGUYEN: Stop it now.

WOLF: Good eating is a possibility.

NGUYEN: Those cute little lemurs?

WOLF: Well, even...

NGUYEN: Who would want -- they're endangered, Reynolds.

WOLF: Even cuter with some smoky barbecue sauce put on them.

NGUYEN: Oh, no.

WOLF: No, folks...

HARRIS: Look at that!

WOLF: No, folks, don't -- don't worry. I'm just joking.

NGUYEN: Don't try this at home, folks.

WOLF: Just joking.

I -- no.

HARRIS: Oh, that's... WOLF: Tony, you know...


WOLF: ... you know you were thinking on the same lines.

HARRIS: Yes, well I hear u. Get out of my head, Betty.

Get out of my head, OK?

Cut it out.

NGUYEN: I just wanted to clarify for the viewers out there...

WOLF: Absolutely.

HARRIS: Yes, all right.

NGUYEN: Because you left it open.

WOLF: All right, there you go.

Oh, gosh, how do you switch gears? How do you go from that to another part of the world?

We're talking about all kinds of stuff. Rough weather back home, and on the other side of the planet, over in Myanmar, we're talking about some rough stuff. Cyclone Mala.

let's zoom in and show you exactly what the storm is doing. It's actually now beginning to fall apart. It made landfall earlier this morning. They're expecting heavy rainfall in Yangon, also possible flooding in Thailand.

The big issue we have with this storm is some of the area that it's going to be crossing over, some of the high topography. We're going to be seeing some mudslides later on today in this part of the world. There's also going to be the possibility of some flooding, of course. Rainfall falling not just in inches, but we're talking about feet.

Meanwhile, back home, we're talking about the heavy storms that we're seeing in parts of Texas. My gosh, they are very heavy, especially just to the northeast of Houston. We've got several tornado warnings that are now in effect for Liberty County, northeast Montgomery County, San Jacinto County, also for Polk County in southeast Texas.

Those will remain in effect until about 7:15 this morning. The line of storms is drifting from the west to the east, very heavy, very strong storms. Not only heavy rainfall, but, of course, that damaging hail and, of course, the potential for those tornadoes.


WOLF: Oh, and speaking of eating, if you ever go to central Texas, the Blue Bonnet Cafe. They have biscuits and sweet rolls that are as big as your face.

HARRIS: Oh, yes.

NGUYEN: Are you serious?

WOLF: Much better tasting than lemurs with barbecue sauce.

NGUYEN: Not that any of us know what a lemur tastes like, just for the record.

HARRIS: For the record.

WOLF: I'm with you. It was just playing. That's all it was, just playing around.

HARRIS: There you go.

NGUYEN: Our apologies to the lemurs out there.

WOLF: No question.

HARRIS: Just hoofing around.

WOLF: Yes.

NGUYEN: All right, Reynolds, we'll talk to you later.

WOLF: Talk to you soon.

NGUYEN: Well, you don't have to stop driving altogether to save money at the pump.

Coming up at 9:30 Eastern, Gerri Willis has some more tips on ways to save.

HARRIS: Ah, but just ahead in the Water Cooler, more hijinks. The science of the hookup.

NGUYEN: Uh-oh.

HARRIS: We will tell you six foolproof ways to make yourself irresistible to a stranger, when we come back.


NGUYEN: OK, gas prices -- they keep increasing and so do claims about gadgets that improve your car's fuel economy, from do-it- yourself ethanol kits to cars that run-on vegetable oil. Yes, French fry grease.

Do they really work or are they just a waste of money?

So joining us now to talk about this from New York is Don Chaikin, automotive editor for the magazine "Popular Mechanics."

Good morning to you. DON CHAIKIN, "POPULAR MECHANICS": Good morning.

NGUYEN: Well, OK, here's the million dollar question -- is there a magic formula that's going to help our cars increase their fuel efficiency?

CHAIKIN: Well, there is a magic formula, but it depends upon the driver. The only way we're really going to improve our fuel efficiency is to drive more conservatively, pay attention to our car's maintenance. There's no silver bullet that you could go out and buy. There's no gadget you can go out and buy that's miraculously going to make your car suddenly get five, 10, 20 percent better fuel economy.

NGUYEN: All right, you've just depressed half of us watching right now.

CHAIKIN: I'm sorry about that.

NGUYEN: There is a ton of products on the market, though, that claim that they can do the trick.

Let's talk about one of them.


NGUYEN: And you almost have to be a scientist to understand what this name means -- Biopro QX-3.

What is that?

CHAIKIN: Well, it's a device that somehow claims, through weird science or magic, to change the molecular structure of your gasoline while it's still in the tank of the car and then, as I say, through weird science or magic, when that gasoline makes it all the way from the tank to the engine, it's going to burn cleaner and better.

We at "Popular Mechanics" tested several devices. We did not test this one specifically. We did test several devices, none of which worked.

NGUYEN: Let's talk about some of those devices just briefly. Miracle Magnets. You've got the Vortex Generators.


NGUYEN: The engine ionizers, the vapor injectors, the water injection. All of these things -- all these things that you inject and put on your car, are you telling me none of them works?

CHAIKIN: I'm telling you none of them work. And the reality is your car, as it comes from the factory right now, is able to use 99 -- more than 99 percent of the gasoline that goes into it. So even -- even if one of these devices was able to get another half a percent, that's all you would gain, would be a half a percent fuel economy. You wouldn't get 5 percent or 10 percent.

NGUYEN: So you're just wasting your mention, basically is what you're saying?

CHAIKIN: Yes, you are. The device you mentioned, I notice, has a price of $150.

NGUYEN: Right.

CHAIKIN: I see that as, at today's prices, that's 50 gallons of gasoline. And I'd sooner put the money to the gasoline.

NGUYEN: Yes, you might as well put it in the car.

OK, but in your May issue of "Popular Mechanics," you highlight this New Jersey contractor who uses vegetable oil in his truck.



NGUYEN: And this actually works?

CHAIKIN: Yes. Well, it worked in a diesel.


CHAIKIN: Diesel engines are designed to run-on a very broad range of fuels. In fact, Doctor Diesel's original demonstration motor at the 1900 Paris Exposition ran on peanut oil. And a number of people are -- Willie Nelson being one of the most famous -- are proponents of using vegetable-based diesel fuels.

The problem is petro-biodiesel, as it's called, costs more per gallon than petro-diesel does. Another problem is with vegetable oils, when they get cold, they turn to solids. They get waxy and they won't flow. So this person that you quoted from our article, he has to run-his engine on regular diesel to warm it up. Then he can switch over to the filtered vegetable oil.

NGUYEN: Right.

CHAIKIN: And then before he shuts the engine off...

NGUYEN: He has to switch back, right. He has to clean out the engine.


NGUYEN: What about these ethanol kits? Do they do anything?

CHAIKIN: Well, an ethanol kit is basically -- if you're going on the make your own ethanol, you're making a still, because essentially ethanol is grain alcohol. So...

NGUYEN: So you're brewing fuel, essentially?

CHAIKIN: Yes, pretty much. You're moon shining your own fuel.

The other problem, pure ethanol, most cars cannot run-on pure ethanol.


CHAIKIN: For one thing, ethanol as a fuel itself is not volatile enough to get a car started in the morning, which is why we have blends, the most popular one being E85, which is 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline, to get the car so it'll start.

But, in addition, the ethanol, as all alcohols, is very, very corrosive, so it requires special materials inside your car, inside the fuel pumps at the stations, the tanker trunks that carry it. So it has its own problems, as well.

NGUYEN: Yes, and the kits alone can cost about $1,500.

Let me ask you about this very, very quickly.


NGUYEN: Can car companies really make these cars more fuel- efficient but they don't because their cars are on the market and they're trying to sell their cars?

CHAIKIN: Carmakers are trying desperately to make their cars more fuel-efficient. If you look at the current state, particularly of the domestic auto makers, if one of them could find a way to suddenly say I can get five, 10, 15 percent better fuel economy and all you've got to do is buy my car, they would do it, trust me.

NGUYEN: So they would do it if they could?

CHAIKIN: Yes, absolutely.

NGUYEN: Don Chaikin, "Popular Mechanics."

Thank you for really spelling it out for us out there so we can save our money.

CHAIKIN: You're welcome.

Thank you.

NGUYEN: We appreciate your time -- Tony.

HARRIS: And still ahead, no jail time and the charge will be dropped, but that's only if he remains in treatment. So we want to know did radio commentator Rush Limbaugh get off too easily?

You've sent us your thoughts. Boy, have you. And we will read some of your comments in our e-mails, coming up next.

NGUYEN: But first, he's Gerri Willis with your real estate Tip of the Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Planning a remodeling project? Know the prices of items like lighting fixtures, faucets and knobs. You can buy them on your own for less and have a contractor do the installation. And no last minute changes or additions. That will add to the total cost and put your project behind schedule.

Remember, most projects do go over budget. Set aside 10 to 20 percent of the total cost for any unexpected expenses.

I'm Gerri Willis and that's your Tip of the Day.

For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE" today, 9:30 Eastern, on CNN.



NGUYEN: Oh, yes.

OK, are you lucky in love? Well, if you're not, maybe we can help.

Today's Water Cooler offers six surefire ways to put the heat back in your romance.

Listen up, Tony.

And these tips work for both men and women.

HARRIS: Well, many of these sure things are common sense. What's unique is an article in "New Scientist" magazine that offers scientific explanations for why these techniques tend to work.

NGUYEN: All right, first up, body language. This speaks probably louder than anything you can say. For example, don't cross your arms because that silently tells a stranger that I like you.

And suddenly copping the other person's posture can automatically make them feel an affinity for you, Tony.

HARRIS: Is that the way it is?

NGUYEN: Yes. That's what they say.


Eye contact is critical. Now, according to the article, psychologists have found that looking into another person's eyes activates a part of the brain associated with rewards.

NGUYEN: Really?

HARRIS: Yes, just don't get Norman Bates kind of creepy about it.

NGUYEN: Creepy about it.

HARRIS: Right. Right. Right.

NGUYEN: All right, another sure thing is to tell a good joke. Researchers have found that love and laughter go hand in hand, so tickling the other person's funny bone can make them feel a lot closer to u.

HARRIS: Is that the truth? Oh, OK.

NGUYEN: That's what they say.

HARRIS: Well, danger can be a real turn-on, according to these scientists in this magazine. Scientists say the adrenaline rush of a scary thrilling experience like riding a roller coaster or watching a suspenseful movie together can heighten arousal.

NGUYEN: Ah! So that's why guys like to take us girls to scary movies.

HARRIS: There you go.

NGUYEN: I get it.

And don't overlook the magical powers of chocolate, especially dark chocolate. It's well known that fine chocolate is loaded with a natural substance that triggers euphoria in many people. And scientists call it the love molecule.

HARRIS: And last, but not least -- hope this is helpful, hope you're taking notes here -- set the right mood with music. You may -- this is Styxx? You...

NGUYEN: Yes, that's not the mood music.

HARRIS: You may prefer jazz or classical, but apparently soft rock is the soundtrack of romance.

NGUYEN: Oh, this is soft rock?


Something like Pure Prairie League and Air Supply and...

NGUYEN: It wouldn't do it for me.

HARRIS: And Ambrosia.

NGUYEN: ... that's all I'm saying. That's all I'm saying. Oh.

HARRIS: What do you want, AC/DC? What do you want?



NGUYEN: I think maybe a little more jazz music.

HARRIS: Oh. Got you.


I mean you think big hair bands?

No. It doesn't get you in the mood.

HARRIS: So, according to the research cited in the article, women looking at pictures of men rated them more attractive when light rock was played.

NGUYEN: I think the verdict is still out on that one.

But if you're curious to know more about the science of love, check out the magazine at

HARRIS: Time to get to our e-mail question of the day and your responses. Hot, hot, hot is the in box and your responses to this question -- "Do you think Rush Limbaugh got off too easily?

Betty, you have the e-mails.

Why don't you go on now?

NGUYEN: Yes, Randy Thomas from Dallas says: "As a Democrat, any hardship inflicted on Mr. Limbaugh would be amusing. However, this punishment is absolutely fair. I am fighting an addiction to these drugs he has admitted abusing and it is the hardest battle of my life. Non-violent drug offenders must be rehabilitated, not incarcerated."

HARRIS: And this: "Rush is the first person to say 'put those drug addicts in jail'. He is a drug addict. Oxycontin is worse than heroin and you break more laws with prescription drugs than non- prescription drugs. Put him in jail where he belongs."

NGUYEN: And D. Mack says: "Of course he got off easy. Let's apply these same rules to crack heads. There are thousands of addicts pulling hard time in our prisons today. In the land of plenty, the rich rule."

So, there's the question again -- do you think Rush Limbaugh got off too easily?

E-mail us,

HARRIS: The next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins in a moment.