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Zimbabwe Announces June 27 Election; California Court Rules Ban on Same Sex Marriage is Unconstitutional; Gas Prices Go Up Again; McCain on Hamas

Aired May 16, 2008 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: If you would like to help those affected by the cyclone or world hunger, go to and impact your world.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news from Zimbabwe, June 27th has been announced as the date for a presidential runoff. A disputed election in March touched off a wave of violence. Official results weren't released for a month. They finally showed that no one had enough votes for a majority.

On a mission for more oil. Gas prices hitting a record high of $3.79 a gallon overnight. President Bush arrived in Saudi Arabia within the last hour; he is planning to discuss the price of oil with the Saudi king. He is hoping to do better this time than last January when the king actually rejected requests for a production boost.

ROBERTS: I'll stick with Malarkey, Senator Biden backed off his initial reaction to President Bush's comments that they were BS, only he used the whole word not just the initials. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING he sounded very upset still.


SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: It's so rare for a president of the United States as you know, John, to be abroad and use such a forum as a political forum. It makes us look foolish around the world. It makes the rest of the world look at President Bush and realize what hypocrisy there is. Here he is negotiating with North Korea. He negotiate the with Libya, terrorists, he is engaged in a policy where Secretary Gates, his own secretary of state, says we have to sit down with Iran as well as the secretary of state says we have to sit down with Iran. He does such a cheap political shot and then in the Israeli Knesset comparing by implication Barack Obama's policy top Neville Chamberlain and appeasement and Hitler and the tanks rolling across into Poland. I mean it is outrageous.


ROBERTS: Even Senator Hillary Clinton took a break from all of the fighting to back her fellow Democrat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think what President Bush did today was to make an outrageous and deeply offensive comparison. I just reject it out of hand. I think any fair-minded American will reject it out of hand.


ROBERTS: Obama released this statement to CNN saying "It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack."

John McCain though jumped right in on top of the attack, ridiculing Obama for being willing to talk with Iran's president.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What does he want to talk about with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said that Israel is a sinking corpse, who said he wants to wipe Israel off the map, who is sending the most explosive devices into Iraq killing Americans? What does he want to talk about with him?


ROBERTS: McCain is also quick to point out that an official of Hamas, a militant Palestinian organization, says he hopes that Barack Obama will become the next president.

CHETRY: Turning now to the race for the white house, a look at where the candidates are today. Senator John McCain campaigns in West Virginia and then attends a National Rifle Association meeting in Kentucky. Senator Hillary Clinton is in Oregon. Senator Barack Obama will also be in Oregon and will also stop in South Dakota tonight.

Here's the next couple of weeks, how they're going to play out, five primaries with 189 delegates up for grabs. Next Tuesday is Kentucky and Oregon with a total of 103 delegates. Oregon is a mail- in vote, by the way. That's already under way. On June 1st, it is Puerto Pico with 55 delegates. Then onto June 3rd, the last two primaries, Montana and South Dakota, with 31 delegates total.

Meantime, former candidate John Edwards' endorsement is paying off for Senator Barack Obama. At least six North Carolina delegates once pledged to Edwards will now support Obama. Eight have switched since Wednesday's endorsement.

Here's how the delegate count stands right now. Obama has 1,899 delegates including 291 superdelegates. He leads Clinton by 17 super delegates and 100 delegates overall. I hope you are writing all this down. She has 1,719 with 274 superdelegates. Obama is 127 short of clinching the nomination. I know you've got it John.

ROBERTS: And if you didn't write it all down, tune in on Tuesday because John King will be back with the magic wall and he'll be telling you all about it. Cheers and celebration after a landmark ruling on same sex marriage in one of the nation's largest states. In a four to three decision, California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same sex marriage calling it unconstitutional. It paves the way for California to become the second state to legalize same sex marriage which is a celebration for some, a reason to protest for others.


MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), SAN FRANCISCO: This is so much bigger than the gay lesbian and bisexual community. This is about families coming together. This is about what we represent as Americans. And what the constitution represents in terms of its principles and protection.

RANDY THOMASSON, PRESIDENT, CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN & FAMILIES: This ruling is not worth the paper it's printed on. The main thing this is going to do is it will spur Californians to go to the polls to override the judges and protect marriage licenses for one man and one woman in the California constitution.


ROBERTS: California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has opposed same sex marriage but says he will respect and uphold the court's decision.

Here's an AM extra look at where the presidential candidates stand on same sex marriage. John McCain says marriage is a union between a man and a woman but opposes a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. He supports legal benefits for same sex partners. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama oppose same sex marriage but do support civil unions. Both say they oppose a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

CHETRY: Video just emerging. Where does John McCain stand on Hamas? He was publicly scorned by or sorry about that, getting back to that, we are going to talk about this article that Jamie Rubin came out, "The Hypocrisy in Hamas." We will talk to him live in a few minutes.

ROBERTS: He was publicly scorned by Oprah for making passages in his memoir a million little pieces, now James Frey is back at it with a new book. We talked to him about the sequel to his Oprah moment and whether or not he thinks that readers will give him a second chance.

A lot of commuters getting in gear this morning. We will tell you why they are leaving the car behind and taking out the two wheels.


ROBERTS: New this morning, gas prices hitting another record this morning. I'm getting so sick of this. I don't know about you. Check in the CNN gas gauge, the new price for gas $3.79 a gallon. That's according to our friends at AAA, up 39 cents from last month. That's going up like more than a penny a day. ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, yeah. We were talking about $3.90 AAA by Memorial Day. At that rate we will beat that. I remember the day when is we were talking about some say it's going to be $3.50 or $3.75 by Memorial Day. It's crazy.

ROBERTS: Why not beat those high gas prices and try pedal power. Today is your opportunity. Today is ride your bike to work day; commuters across the country waking up and leaving the car behind opting instead for the cheapest and the greenest commute. Not only is biking free, it is a good way to guarantee you get your daily exercise. Businesses in this country have to become a lot more bike friendly.

VELSHI: Yeah. The bike has to be secure.

ROBERTS: Even here. Christiane Amanpour didn't ride her bike because it's raining. But she has to lock it up.

VELSHI: We're going to be spending a lot of time on that on "ISSUE #1" because I just think it we have to send a message to businesses to do what you can to encourage people to bike to work.

By the way, another thing that is going out of business is about energy that is cheap and good for you is wind energy. T. Boone Pickens who is a legendary oil investor has decided he is going to buy 667 of the wind turbines and put them into Sweetwater, Texas which is in northwest Texas, about two and a half or three and a half hours from Dallas. He is going to create the world's biggest wind farm. It will be up and running by 2014. They're going to call it the Path of Wind Project. It will be on 400,000 acres. It will generate 4,000 megawatts which is the equivalent of powering 1.3 million homes. This is a really big deal.

Now the U.S. department of energy says that 20% of the country's electricity can come from wind by 2030. Right now 1% of the country's electricity comes from wind.

You can't put it everywhere in the country. You can't put the windmills everywhere. Take a look at the map right now. As of the end of 2007, those states in red are the ones that generate a substantial amount of energy from wind. Texas and California in particular are leading that charge. And then in yellow you see the states that are generating some power from wind and then we still have work to do in the other states. There are places where you can't do that.

T. Boone Pickens is going to be on "ISSUE #1" today. We will talk about wind being the next big deal for energy in the United States.

ROBERTS: Ask him where he thinks oil prices are going.

VELSHI: Last time you asked him, which was just a few months ago, he said $100.

ROBERTS: Well past that now. Ali, thanks. Video just emerging this morning that appears to contradict what John McCain has been saying about Hamas. We'll show you the video and let you decide for yourself coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's definitely been making waves on the campaign trail for the last 24 hours now. President Bush before the Israeli parliament calling out those who want to talk with Iran and Syria. Here's the president's comments from yesterday.


PRES. GEORGE BUSH, UNITED STATES: Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals. We have an obligation to call this what it is, the false comfort of appeasement which has been repeatedly discredited by history.


PHILLIPS: All right. Then John McCain piled on more, attacking Barack Obama for saying he would talk to U.S. enemies and consistently points out that Hamas, a militant organization, endorses Obama's candidacy. But there's word this morning that McCain actually hasn't been consistent in his opposition to Hamas. He talked with Jamie Rubin of Sky News just two years ago, Jamie joining us now, a professor at Columbia. We want to point out former assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration. We saw your article this morning, we were able to get part of that interview. I want to get to that in a moment but first here's Bush suggesting that Democrats want to negotiate with terrorist, Republicans saying no we are fighting the terrorists. You found hypocrisy on a number of levels. Let's start with your reaction to the president's comments.

JAMES RUBIN, COLUMBIA UNIV. SCHOOL OF INTL. AFFAIRS: Imagine the scene, the president of the United States is in the Israeli Knesset, this is a country that was created out of the ashes of World War II because of the holocaust. The enemy of everyone connected with that era, that history was the appeasement of Hitler, the idea that we should have negotiated with Adolph Hitler. That is what President Bush brings up before the Israeli Knesset.

There's no more gruesome place for the president to suggest that other Americans, other Democrats are somehow appeasers because they want to sit down at the negotiating table with Iran, especially when, let's face it, his own secretary of defense has said we should negotiate with Iran. Many, many Republican officials have said we should negotiate with Iran. All of Bush's silent treatment of Iran and Syria has gotten us nowhere.

So for the president to use this solemn occasion for a presidential address to the Israeli Knesset, to use these horrible words about appeasement and Munich and Neville Chamberlain is really the most ugly form of American politics brought to another shore that is I have seen in a long time. PHILLIPS: Then we see John McCain responding yesterday, the new John McCain, but there's an old John McCain that we discovered, that comes from an interview you did when you were working with Sky News in 2006, I believe, correct?

RUBIN: That's correct.

PHILLIPS: Let's take a listen to this exchange.


RUBIN: Do you think American diplomats should be operated the way they have in the past in working with the Palestinian government, if Hamas is now in charge?

MCCAIN: They are the government and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another. And I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy toward Hamas is because of their dedication to violence and the things they not only espoused but practice. But it is a new reality in the Middle East.


PHILLIPS: OK. Explain to me now, where does John McCain stand?

RUBIN: This is the ultimate flip-flop in American politics. When he was in Davos amongst the European crowd and I interviewed him there, two years ago. He was talking as if it was appropriate and natural and reasonable to negotiate with Hamas, the new government of the Palestinian territories. And then two years later, he's taking a very, very different position, saying anybody who wants to talk to them is somehow an equivalent to terrorists, smearing people for suggesting that one ought to talk to Hamas when it was he himself who was prepared to talk to Hamas two years ago.

The great irony of all of this is that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama even want to talk to the Hamas government. They both said we shouldn't negotiate with them or deal with them properly until they renounce terrorism in Israel. John McCain doing this 180-degree flip flop and attacking Barack Obama for it, it's just the height of hypocrisy.

PHILLIPS: All right. Then I want to point out too, you were foreign policy adviser in the Clinton administration. For full disclosure I want to get that in. But for the campaign, excuse me, Clinton campaign.

But I want to just turn to another interesting tidbit we came across. This adds another twist. I don't know if you have been able to see this or not. Powell, Colin Powell did an interview last year with NPR and he said pretty tough words for the Bush administration with regard to Hamas. He said I think you have to find some way to talk to Hamas but they are not going to go away. I don't think you can cast them out into the outer darkness and try to find the solution to the problems of the region without taking into account the standing that Hamas has in the Palestinian community.

RUBIN: Here's the tragedy here. Apparently, it's a fairly acceptable view in the upper reaches of the Republican Party, Colin Powell, John McCain two years ago to negotiate with Hamas, to deal with them as a government. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the Democrats have rejected that. So then this very same candidate, John McCain takes that argument, turns it on its head, pretends he never said what he said, maybe he forgot and attacks the Democrats as somehow the friends of terrorists. Maybe this experience, and I hope and I pray, that this experience for John McCain and the Republicans of watching what happens when they try to use these sort of Nixonian campaign tricks will be so bitter for them that we can get back to the real issues. We have a big election coming and a big issue.

PHILLIPS: Let's get away from the games on both sides and you think this will eventually or will now bring back to the issues?

RUBIN: I hope so. Iraq is a big issue. Our election this fall is going to be a virtual referendum of Iraq. You vote for the Democratic candidate, we will begin pulling out. You vote for the Republicans we stay in. That is a major issue. Why can't McCain and the president just focus on it, it's big enough, we can have a series debate about it instead of trying to use these dirty campaign tricks.

PHILLIPS: Jamie Rubin, appreciate your time, thanks.


ROBERTS: You are watching the most news in the morning and coming up, they debuted in the CNN YouTube Democratic debate. Now their brand of political comedy has made them a huge hit. Still ahead, the red state update with Jackie and Dunlop.


ROBERTS: 21 minutes after the hour. Breaking news, a huge surge in the price of oil. Ali Velshi is here with us.

VELSHI: I can't keep track of what's going on here. Oil has now surged to $127.43 just in the least few minutes. This is because China has said that half of one percent of it's entire power supply is off line because of the earthquakes that hit a few days ago. That means China is going to have to buy more oil to make up for the power supply that it cannot generate. That has sent the price of oil and it continues to go up. At last check it was $127.43.

Goldman Sachs now saying its estimate for the price of a barrel of oil for the remainder of the year has been moved up to $141 a barrel.

We also have problems in Nigeria that have cut off supply. Nigeria is a major producer to the world of oil. We are seeing an increase in the price of oil not about the speculation we have been talking about in the last few days, people who trade oil, this is supply and demand pushing up the price of oil. We have a brand new record for the price of a barrel of oil $127.43. We will continue to dig into the story to find out how serious the effect of China's power supply part of it being offline because of the earthquake, but that is affecting us.

ROBERTS: New terror message said to be from Osama Bin Laden, time to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary. Hear what Bin Laden says is al Qaeda's main motivation today.

CHETRY: They are in a red state of mind. They bring us their unique view on presidential politics. That story and today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING returns.


JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think Hillary gets it, it's over. You know. You see her today campaigning with the immunity necklace from "Survivor" around her neck. Doesn't work. Doesn't work, you can't --

CHETRY: Well, Jay Leno is not the only one allowed to have a little fun with the race for the white house. The comedy duo the red state update guys debuted right here on CNN during the inaugural YouTube debate last July. Since then their Web site full of video rips lampooning candidates has received more than 10 million hits. Jackie Broyles and Dunlop join us live from Los Angeles.

How you doing boys?

JACKIE BROYLES: Back on CNN, feels good.

DUNLOP: I like old John King's magic map. I don't understand is it the map magic or something in his hands?

CHETRY: It's his fingers, he's got the magic fingers.

DUNLOP: When you going to let us on part of the best political team on TV? Just imagine me sitting between Bill Bennett and Carl Bernstein. Like somebody setting up for a hot dog eating contest. Hard-core.

BROYLES: Wolf Blitzer be the judge, yeah.

DUNLOP: He can't participate, he gets it in his beard.

CHETRY: Let me segway here, try too at least. Hillary Clinton, I know how much both of you love her and respect her so much. The feminists you say have a huge issue with Hillary. What is the deal?

DUNLOP: Well, they are conflicted because, you know, feminists feel duty bound to vote for the female candidate. But, you know, like a lot of us they don't like her. They are feminists, they just like us.

BROYLES: Oh, I don't know about that. I think it's okay for feminists to vote for Barack Obama, Obama girl that's okay, I think, yeah.

DUNLOP: The feminist Obama girl.

CHETRY: What about Barack Obama? Your fellow red neck, shall we say, the congressman of Georgia, old Cooter from "Dukes of Hazard" he wrote the book. He's got to get in with the people. He said Obama has to eat grits. Do you agree?

DUNLOP: I didn't know this was going to be a job on Cooter. I'll walk out of the studio right now. Obama got flack, he wasn't wearing a flag pin. At this point is it going to help Obama. He could wear this shirt and it wouldn't help him much. That's an open offer to Obama if he's watching. I'll throw in the Skynard hat and everything. You don't want to seem elitist.

CHETRY: What kind of pin should he be wearing then?

BROYLES: It don't matter what kind of pin any of these candidates are wearing. Good lord what they need to be talking about, it's not what pin they are wearing, how bad any of these candidates going to screw this country up.

DUNLOP: Focus on the issues, media.

CHETRY: I know you are not pointing at me now.

DUNLOP: No, just general direction, John Roberts, he's probably hidden behind the curtain.

CHETRY: John Roberts always sticks to the issues.

BROYLES: That's right.

CHETRY: Let me ask you about John McCain. He's been older and can't hang with the younger candidates. He was out hiking with a reporter the other day. What do you think?

DUNLOP: I saw some of that tape. Does that look like -- I couldn't tell if that was McCain on a hike or dramatic rescue footage of a nursing home escapee who wandered out in the woods.

BROYLES: I'm tired of everybody -- McCain's age should not be an issue in this election unless you care about this country. Yeah.

DUNLOP: And then he gave that speech about 2013, all the great things he was going to accomplish if, you know, by the end of his first term. How can he see that far into the future but he can't remember to put his pants on before he gets off the bus.

CHETRY: You know what, you have to right to talk about keeping pants on or off. I saw the pictures you guys took giving Miley Cyrus a hard time. You too like to strike a pose. I believe we have the pictures for the folks to see. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, boys, I think you need to keep your shirts on.

DUNLOP: You know what, we were taken advantage of. You know how you get into a photography studio and they're, oh, you're so beautiful. You're so pretty, and they give you, you know, wine and loads (ph) and turkey sandwiches.

BROYLES: Look, they're putting that on there. Good lord, don't...

DUNLOP: Yes, don't -- people are trying to eat breakfast.

BROYLES: It's too early for that in the morning. Good lord.

PHILLIPS: Jackie and Dunlop, always great to meet with you boys. I'll see down at NASCAR in a couple of months, OK.

DUNLOP: Sure, we'll party in the parking lot, have fun times. Eating Church's chicken off the cesarean scars of Dale and Jerry (ph) groupies.

PHILLIPS: Just as long as your partner there doesn't get caught in his beard.

Good to see you, guys.

John, help me out.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Raw, ugly politics, not talking about Jackie and Dunlop. That is what Senator Biden is calling President Bush's comments yesterday in Israel. The President compared those who want to negotiate with nations such as Iran to those who appease Hitler prior to World War II. It's being viewed as a shot at Senator Barack Obama. Senator John McCain says it shows "inexperience to want to talk to terrorists." Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Senator Biden responded to that.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: John said a week and a half ago, well you know, the fact that -- I'm paraphrasing, the fact that Hamas likes Obama and the fact that Danny Ortega likes him, well, you judge for yourself. What kind of character assassination is that. That's beneath John, it's not usually the way he is. I hope to lower this thing gets on a different track because this is just, just damaging to the United States of America.


ROBERTS: And that brings us to our "Quick Vote" question this morning. We have been asking is President Bush right? Is it appeasement for the U.S. to talk with its enemies. Just head to to vote. Right now, 20 percent of you say yes, it is appeasement. 80 percent say no. We'd also like to hear your thoughts via e-mail. How should the U.S. deal with country such as Iran, North Korea and others.

Again, just go to and click on the link that says e- mail us. We'll read some of you responses coming up in about 20 minutes' time. PHILLIPS: And new messages this morning believed to be from terror leader Osama Bin Laden and directed at Israel. The voice on the tape refers to Israel's 60th anniversary, said the war against Israel will continue until it frees Palestine that. Well, that tape has yet to be authenticated but did appear on a Web site frequented by Al Qaeda.

ROBERTS: Breaking news right now from China, more aftershocks rocking the country China days after a deadly 7.9 earthquake. One after shock triggered a landslide near the epicenter of Monday's quake, blocking roads, knocking out communications. Damage from the quake now estimated at more than $20 billion.

And this morning, there are more stories of survival as quake victims are still being pulled from the rubble alive. But there are many thousands still trapped in the ruins of hospitals, homes and schools. ITV's Bill Neely filed this report. And warning, you may find some of the images disturbing.


BILL NEELY, ITV NEWS, CORRESPONDENT: If there is a worst place in the world today, then this is it. A school where the children can still be seen in their classrooms but they are all, hundreds of them, dead. The workers lift what rubble they can. But the teenagers are almost fixed in the broken concrete. It's a terrible scene. This whole place is absolute ghastly. And this is one of more than 50 classrooms in this school.

It was the newest building in the city. But its cheap materials broke the law on earthquake safety. With hundreds of children dead, the penalty for the builders may be execution. A few miles from so much death, life is pulled from the earth. Trapped for three days, a woman is lifted free. They clean her, and asked her -- are there any more people inside? Yes, two, she says. Are they alive? Yes, she says, they are still talking.

The ruins of Beichuan are still smoking and people are still crying out for relatives. The question here is -- how do you find anybody alive in all of this? You call for quiet and you shout into the rubble, knock if you can hear us. Deep down, someone knocks.

The only thing in this city that is as it was is its name. Every single building here has been toppled and the whole place will simply have to be demolished. This city is history. After such terror, few want to come back. They fled to a stadium in another city, 10,000 already. And in the grounds, the women weep, grief and guilt over the dead children they've left behind. This is the worst thing that's happened to China in 30 years, a national tragedy in 100,000 personal traumas.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Beichuan.


PHILLIPS: And we got news, just coming into CNN about building permits and housing starts - this jump in April, Ali Velshi, I see you are taking notes.

VELSHI: I can't keep up with the news going on this morning.

PHILLIPS: There's a lot happening this morning.

VELSHI: This is another piece of very strong news any way you cut it. The number of homes under construction that began construction in April had the biggest jump in two years. This is quite substantial. They were expecting an increase that was much smaller than this. We now have an increase, at 1.03 million homes on an annualized basis under construction. That's a big deal. The other indicator we just got is building permits. That's the number of permits that are filed for construction to begin. Obviously if you think your building or homes are not going to sell, you don't file those permits. Building permits are also up higher than expected. So, we've got very good news, you might say that is because home prices have been dropping as precipitously as they had for so long, that some people are thinking mortgage rates remain low, home prices low, let's get in. On the other side of this equation, and I'll just hold on for a second. I just told you, oil has hit another record, Goldman Sachs has just increased it's target for oil prices for the second half of the year. Are you sitting down? $141 a barrel. We are already above $127 this morning. So, this is good-bad news a story as you can get.

ROBERTS: Here's what I don't understand. There are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of homes in this country sitting on the market that nobody wants to buy.

VELSHI: Right.

ROBERTS: What's responsible for this number?

VELSHI: Well, we have a lot of 10 to 12 months worth of extra supply in the home market. Once you staring paring that down and you get to six months that is considered healthy. So, if you have an inventory of six months of homes, every business has the amount of inventory it should have. If your corner store needs an x-amount of milk before it has to replenish, and if it has too much milk it has to get rid of it. Same thing in the housing market. We are starting to see that supply dwindle and faith that the number will come back. So, you start to stock up if you think more people are buying.

PHILLIPS: But last week you were saying that construction jobs were down.

VELSHI: Right. This lags. Once you start to say OK houses are selling, then builders start getting permits for homes. Then, they start saying six months down the road they will start employing people. So, we will probably still see job losses. But this is again one month is not a trend, but that is heartening.

ROBERTS: Some good news this morning.


ROBERTS: The hairless prophet of doom.

VELSHI: That's right. Only half the hairless prophet of doom.

PHILLIPS: Well, record heat in the west on top of a growing wildfire threat. Rob Marciano in the CNN weather center tracking extreme weather for us now. Hey, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kyra, upper 90s yesterday across the bay area. You may bake well into that number across parts of Oregon. We did have a fire flare up across parts of So Cal. Boy, they got a fire last week. There it is. Deja vu all over again for sure. Talk about that and the rain in the east when weather comes right back.


MARCIANO: Check out this small brush fire breaking out in Griffith Observatory. This is the same spot that has that devastating fire last year. It broke out around 3:30 yesterday. They got the choppers in. The got the firefighters out, they managed to douse it with only burning about three acres. Certainly bringing back bad memories. All right, to Louisiana we go where yesterday we were talking about the threat of severe weather. We got it shortly after AMERICAN MORNING and they had tornado damage in many spots. There is one death reported. Heavy rain golf ball size hail and 18,000 people without power.

All right. Let's talk about all of this, if you want to talk about serious heat here? Covelo, California 104, that breaks all record at 92. Sacramento 99, Medford, Oregon 98, San Francisco on the Bay 94 degrees. Some rain in Louisiana, that is going to be wrapping up here in the next couple of hours. Rain across the northeast. That will stick around all day long. And we already have some delays at the airports at La Guardia and Philadelphia.

Got some big news here happening at Atlanta. We're having a party here. I don't know if you've heard the news, John and Kyra, but today is my fifth year anniversary here at the big channel. And the CEO of the company has given me this. Kyra, I know you have one of these and John, some more years buddy. This is what you can look forward to.

ROBERTS: Look at that.


MARCIANO: How about that?

ROBERTS: That's a big Lucite award there.

MARCIANO: Well, they also gave me the option to get some free luggage. I don't know what that's trying to saying but -

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks very much.

MARCIANO: Nice to be with you. ROBERTS: Congratulations, all right.

PHILLIPS: His best-selling memoir went bust right in front of Oprah and everybody else. Now James Frey is picking up the pieces of his career, he sits down with our own Lola Ogunnaike about whether he thinks readers will give him a second chance.

ROBERTS: And it's a favorite seafood for many but it's a way of life for others. And it could be drying up. American shrimpers being driven out of business. We're live on the gulf coast this morning.


PHILLIPS: James Frey, he duped Oprah Winfrey and rocked the literary world when it was revealed that parts of his best-selling memoir were made up. Well, now he's back. He's back with a new novel and hoping readers give him a second chance. He sat down with our own Lola Ogunnaike.


JAMES FREY, AUTHOR: What's up New York? I bet you didn't think you would see me again, huh?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not after James Frey's best selling memoir "A million little pieces" was exposed as a fraud. And Oprah publicly slammed him on her show.

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH": I feel duped but more importantly I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.

OGUNNAIKE: Take me back to that day. Did you have any idea what was coming, did you walk into an ambush?

FREY: I don't want to get into the specifics of that show. You know, I knew Oprah wanted to have a conversation with me and I knew it probably wasn't going to be my best day.

OGUNNAIKE: After that book appearance, he lost his book contract, lawsuits followed, he even received death threats.

FREY: There were days that were definitely hard to get out of bed, you know. There were days where the future didn't look real good.

OGUNNAIKE: He's mounting a comeback with his latest book "Bright Shiny Morning," a sprawling novel set in Los Angeles. The reviews have been mixed.

FREY: There's a pretty clear statement at the front of the book that says nothing in it should be considered accurate or reliable. You know, it's all made up.

OGUNNAIKE: And why did you choose to put that statement there? That's how you begin this book, this new chapter in your life?

FREY: Yes, yes. I want it to be really clear this time.

OGUNNAIKE: You could have easily written a memoir, a post- scandal memoir, but instead you chose to write a novel, why? It's not like your life in the past few years hasn't been juicy enough.

FREY: Well, the irony is if I wrote about my life the last two years, nobody would believe me.


PHILLIPS: Good question. There's the kicker right there. Tell me more about the reviews and also did Oprah say anything?

OGUNNAIKE: Oprah had nothing to say about it but a number of the newspapers have had a lot to say about it. The "New York Times" called the book a captivating urban kaleidoscope. And the "L.A. Times called it a literary train wreck." So, decidedly mixed reviews.

PHILLIPS: So, you don't think he will go on Oprah's show?

OGUNNAIKE: I don't think he'll be going back there any time soon. But you know what, I'd be under the bed if something like that happened to me. But he's coming back with a bang. He had a piano player accompany him while he was reading from his latest book. He's going to have a heavy metal band accompany him on his next book tour in Los Angeles. So, this guy is no shrinking violet. He is coming back and he is saying I survived Oprah, I'm here.

PHILLIPS: Interesting. Lola, thanks.


PHILLIPS: All right. John.

ROBERTS: 46 minutes after the hour now. Today's CNN hero nominated by a viewer just like you is a woman from Argentina. She is mobilizing dozens of kids to spend their weekends doing what most kids hate doing, cleaning up. Meet Carmen Salva.


CARMEN SALVA (through translator): It's what we call mother earth. In northern Argentina, you find a town of Tilcara. It's a tourist area. I've made my whole life in Tilcara. There's no real environmental consciousness in Tilcara. We have a lot of issues to work on. Water contamination. There's so much trash. Someone had to do something and I saw the opportunity. My name is Carmen Salva. I began an environmental group to clean up my town and its surrounding together with children, young people and parents.

I have been a teacher for 20 years. I believe that change begins with a child. They will teach how to care for nature and everything that's around us. The name for the group is Hope for Life. When we go out to clean on Saturdays there's about 60 to 100 people. We separate the recyclables. And when we return we load the llamas with the bags of trash. When the students leave the group, they are the ones who pass on the lessons they have learned. It's really fulfilling when we come back to town and they feel like, well, they feel like heroes.


ROBERTS: Are American shrimpers being driven out of business? We're live on the gulf coast. Coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Nine minutes now to the top of the hour. These are tough times for the men and women who bring you the catch of the day. CNN's John Zarrella has been traveling the state of Florida this week. His last stop today Tarpen Springs, just north of Tampa where he is aboard with a shrimper. Good morning, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. We know just a few years ago there were 35 shrimp boats that called this river home. Today there's just a handful. The problem is they can't make any money at it. We spent the afternoon with one shrimper who is just trying to keep his boat afloat.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): Shrimp nets hauling in their catch off the Florida coast. It's been done here for generations by people like Captain George Williams. He has fished for shrimp for 40 years through good times and bad.

CAPT. GEORGE WILLIAMS: The hook broke.

ZARRELLA: Lately, it's been bad. And Williams doesn't know how much longer he can hold on.

WILLIAMS: This used to be, you know, a real good job. You could make good money. You know, a real decent living at it. But my two sons quit. One of them joined the Army.

ZARRELLA: There's still plenty of shrimp to catch. But the price has plummeted. At the same time the cost of fuel has shot up. Dragging nets through water burns lots of fuel. A day on the water can easily cost over $1,000 in diesel. They call it trading shrimp for fuel. Some months it is better business not to go on the water.

FRANK TOEBBE, SHRIMPER: The fuel is what's stopping us now, I mean really. For the, you know -- right now if we catch 700 pounds a day, the boat will just break even.

ZARRELLA: The shrimp boat has been drying out for three months waiting for the height of the season to jump-start their fortune, hunting for white shrimp off the coast of Florida today, a good catch. But by the new math of their industry, good is no longer good enough.


ZARRELLA (on-camera): How bad is it? One story it goes that a first mate went out for about three weeks, they came back, the captain came to him and said we didn't make any money on this trip. You owe me $200 for your meals. John.

ROBERTS: Wow, that is terrible. John, what is it that driving is the price of shrimp down? You said there's plenty still to catch but they just can't make money at it.

ZARRELLA: It started a few years ago, imported shrimp flooding the market has driven the price down and now you couple that with the diesel prices going through the roof, they just can't make it.

ROBERTS: John Zarrella for us this morning at Tarpen Springs, falling out of hard times. John, thanks very much. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: It's not enough for doctors to tell you that you need to lose weight, you need motivation. In this week's "Fit Nation" report, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to a woman who set her sights on a goal and the pounds came off.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kelly Pless was a happy child who grew up running and playing sports. But as her age crept up, so did her weight.

KELLY PLESS, LOST 95 LBS.: And by the time I graduated high school, I think I was 215, 220.

GUPTA: And after college her self-image became a major issue.

PLESS: I had tied my complete self worth to how I look. I think then I thought if I were only thin I would be happy and I would be worthy.

GUPTA: But Kelly would soon be inspired by a co-worker who reached his goal of running a marathon. She decided to start training for half marathon of her own. But her lungs wanted no part of it.

PLESS: I went to a pulmonary specialist to tell him I need help on my asthma because I was having a hard time breathing. He said you don't have asthma, there is nothing wrong with your lungs. You just, you have too much weight, and it is compressing your lungs. And it was at that point that I was like wow, that is crazy, I'm 26, you know, I can't breathe because I'm too fat. And it's just something just clicked.

GUPTA: So Kelly kept running, started eating healthier and stopped caring what others thought of her.

PLESS: I wasn't thinking about losing weight to look pretty. I wasn't thinking about losing weight for someone else, I was just thinking about becoming more healthy.

GUPTA: Her weight loss philosophy was simple.

PLESS: I eat when I'm hungry and I don't when I'm not. If it's got calories, I'm going to put calories on me, I mean I should be able to chew it. If you burn more calories thank you take in, you are going to lose weight. There's nothing magic about it. I'm Kelly and I lost 95 pounds.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


PHILLIPS: And we just got word that some Olympic news coming into us. A ruling on a double amputees Olympic dream right after the break.


PHILLIPS: Great news for this man today. We are being told that amputee runner Oscar Pistorius. He won. You may remember the controversy, we call him the Blade runner because the - how was it, John? Because the spring in the blades, right.

ROBERTS: The Olympic committee thought there was more spring back from the blades than from a normal human foot. And that therefore he was ineligible to compete for the Olympics.

PHILLIPS: He took them to court and he won. So, he's on his way.

ROBERTS: Look at that, to be at the Beijing Olympics. Good for him. We got to get him on the show and talk about this whole thing.

PHILLIPS: We're working it, by the way.

ROBERTS: Hey, final check of our "Quick Vote" question this morning. Is President Bush right? Is it appeasement for the United States to talk with its enemies? Let's take a look at the final results this morning. 19 percent of you said yes. 81 percent said no.

PHILLIPS: And we've also been reading your e-mails on this. Bob from Conyers, Georgia writes, "President Bush once again showing his ignorance and his arrogance. Meeting with one's adversaries isn't now, nor has it ever been, about having "magic" words to convince them of their mistakes, it's about listening more than talking and asking questions to attempt to discover both their positions and motivations so as to avoid violent conflict."

ROBERTS: From Sandra in Talent, Oregon this morning "Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran could care les what we think about anything... you cannot talk to people who want you dead. They will lie to your face and do what they want behind you back. They prove it every time."

PHILLIPS: And from James in Montauk, New York. No, Montauk, New York. See, I'm learning all these areas.

ROBERTS: We'll get you there one of these days.

PHILLIPS: Can we bike? ROBERTS: Right. It's a 100 miles.

PHILLIPS: Excellent. "How does the old saying go? Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer. George Bush has no business telling the world how diplomacy works. Malarkey!

OK. See Biden. Senator Joe Biden has started a trend. Malarkey is coming back.

ROBERTS: Well, at least people aren't repeating the other word that he said. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We will see you again on Monday.

PHILLIPS: CNN NEWSROOM with T.J. Holmes and Fredricka Whitfield begins right now.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, there. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm T.J. Holmes.