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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Congress Moves Closer to Auto Bailout Bill; O.J. Simpson Heads to Prison
Aired December 8, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news on the auto bailout, a surprisingly positive new prediction of how long the recession might last, and O.J. Simpson sent to prison. He arrived today at his new home. We will take you inside the prison and show you what his life will be like for at least the next nine years, but, first, the breaking news -- lawmakers tonight finalizing a bailout plan for Detroit's Big Three.
They are working with the White House, which got a draft of the bill earlier today. It's a scaled-down version of what the CEOs were looking for, lighter on money, loaded with what Democrats are calling tough conditions on Detroit.
We're "Keeping Them Honest" on that.
But, first, Dana Bash has the breaking news.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the Democrats' draft proposal, auto companies would get $15 billion in bridge loans as soon as next week, Monday, December 15. It's just a fraction of the $34 billion auto companies asked Congress for, but enough, lawmakers hope, to keep the Big Three afloat as they answer Washington's calls for a major overhaul.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It will provide funds to see the auto companies through to the end of the first quarter of next year. But this is no blank check or blind hope.
BASH: To ensure restructuring in Detroit, the president would appoint a so-called car czar who, by January 1, would set up guidelines for struggling auto companies to reorganize, prove they can be profitable. If by February 15 that government-appointed czar does not see enough progress from the auto companies, he could recall their government loans.
That point, forcing Detroit to overhaul its business plans in exchange for any taxpayers dollars, has been a central Washington demand. But administration sources say they're concerned the Democrats' proposal does not go far enough in passing President Bush's main test, that only viable companies would get government financing. Congressional Republican leaders agree.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Troubled automakers cannot expect taxpayers' help without a serious commitment to change their ways permanently.
BASH: Democrats insist their plan is tough on Detroit, giving auto companies a March 31 deadline to produce plans showing long-term viability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that will require concessions from labor, management, and banks, all aspects of the auto industry.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We call this the barbershop. Everybody is getting a haircut here in terms of the -- in terms of the conditions of the bill.
BASH: But the legislation targets the Big Three auto executives for the biggest trim. Though a top Democrat called for GM chief Rick Wagoner to step down, the legislation does not require anyone to be fired.
But there are tough mandates aimed at all auto CEOs: no golden parachutes and no more corporate jets, which executives famously flew to Washington the first time they asked for money and left empty- handed.
COOPER: Dana, this morning, the White House and Democrats in Congress said they thought they could get a deal by tonight. What's happening? Where do things stand?
BASH: They are still trying even at this late hour, Anderson. I literally just took a call from a Democratic source, who said that they are about to send back to the White House a proposal which they hope will address some of the concerns they expressed earlier today.
You know, there are still -- there's still a lot of optimism that they can get something done and on the floor of the House and the Senate by midweek. But there definitely are some differences about the role of that so-called car czar, and also about whether the taxpayers are really going to be protected if, in fact, these auto companies don't do what they are supposed to do in terms of restructuring their companies.
I can't tell you how much trepidation there really is here, because, frankly, it -- as we all know, the Wall Street bailout didn't go very well. There's a lot of trepidation about getting this one right. And that means attaching a lot of strings -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.
So, $15 billion for three months, in exchange, say Democrats, for greater accountability.
More now on the accountability angle.
Ali Velshi is "Keeping Them Honest," joins us with that.
Ali, we now know there hasn't been enough oversight of the $700 billion bailout. So, why should we believe there's going to be oversight for the auto bailout?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Because exactly what Dana just said, because of all the trepidation, because of all the nervousness about what happened.
It's too bad it didn't happen the other way around, where a $15 bailout -- a $15 billion bailout is where we learned the bad lessons, and then the bigger one comes later.
Dana talked about this: a car czar who is going to review all the transactions that are worth $25 million or more and will be given some powers, according to the bill that has been written so far. And, again, they are negotiating it, so we don't know how far that goes, but given some serious powers.
The Government Accounting Office and a special inspector general will have greater access to all the accounting. This is particularly interesting in the case of Chrysler, which is not a public company and whose accounts are not public.
Those are two of the points. The third one is that the car czar can revoke the loans if the automobile companies are not doing what they were supposed to do, except that Chrysler and General Motors, which are the two that are going to use this money, say that they are going to probably burn through it by March anyway. I'm not sure there will be much loan to revoke.
Let's also take a look at some of the protections that are being built in here, no bonuses, as Dana says to the 25 highest paid officials at any of the -- the car companies, no golden parachutes whatsoever, no private planes leased or purchased, and no dividends. They can't use this money to pay out dividends to stockholders. In other words, this cannot enrich shareholders. This is about keeping those companies afloat -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, if they are going to burn through the money by March, as you said, are there any guarantees they are just not going to come back in a couple months and say, you know, we need more money?
VELSHI: No, but whether it's this or the $700 billion bailout package, it was never clear that there would be any guarantees.
The idea here is, can you keep these two companies afloat for long enough that they can start to sell cars, they can get from other places, because it looks like they will stay alive? So, no, there weren't any guarantees to start with. What you have got is a few strings attached and some protection, so that least we can know how the money is being spent -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ali Velshi, "Keeping Them Honest," thanks.
Talking about accountability, Merrill Lynch lost $11 million this year under their CEO, John Thain, before it was gobbled up by Bank of America, and $24 billion total with this guy Thain in charge. Get this. He wanted a bonus this year, reportedly about $10 million. Today, after a huge public outcry, a 180, the company announcing that he and other top Merrill executives will not be getting bonuses this year.
President-elect Obama has criticized CEOs for cashing in while workers get shafted. Well, tonight, his plan for pointing people back to work is on the table. But so is a warning from Mr. Obama himself. Things may get a lot worse, he said, before they get better.
Not everyone agrees with his assessment. And, a bit later tonight, we're going to bring you a surprisingly hopeful forecast.
First, Jessica Yellin with Obama's new plan and the "Raw Politics."
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today was a good one on Wall Street. But that's not going to make the holiday season any brighter for the more than 1.9 million Americans who lost their jobs this year or the millions more who are worried they might be next.
Soon, their problems will be Barack Obama's. And when it comes to the economy, he's preparing the nation for a long winter, telling Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press":
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS")
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This is a big problem. And it's going to get worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Still, he suggests springtime is around the corner. And, to speed the thaw, he's proposing the biggest public works program in 50 years, saying in his weekend radio address:
OBAMA: We will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. We will invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways.
YELLIN: All told, Obama estimates the program will save or create 2.5 million jobs. And that is as much policy detail as the president-elect has shared in weeks.
The head of the Senate's public works program is on board, already identifying projects that need help.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: These infrastructure jobs aren't make-work jobs. They are important-work jobs, work that has to be done.
YELLIN: Today, she sent Barack Obama this letter, explaining, 585,000 of the nation's bridges need repair and improvements to the nation's transportation system will cost $286 billion a year through 2020, and that every $1 billion spent on highway construction will support 35,000 jobs.
But critics say Obama's plan won't create enough jobs to make a difference and that public works projects move too slowly.
ALAN VIARD, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: (AUDIO GAP) hoping it to have. By the time you actually get some of these projects up and running and actually get them fairly far along in the construction phase, the economy is likely to have recovered on its own.
YELLIN: Obama disagrees, arguing, many states are ready to start work now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS")
OBAMA: I think we can get a lot of work done fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: And the jobs program is just one piece of a massive stimulus package his economic team is fashioning now.
His aides want to push it through the new Congress in January, so Obama can sign it as one of his first acts in office.
COOPER: So, Jessica, Obama and Al Gore are going to meet tomorrow. What -- do you know any idea what's going on with that?
YELLIN: Yes, Anderson, there's two purposes there.
One is, first, he's going to highlight the economic stimulus packages focused on green jobs. As you know, Al Gore has promoted the greening of America as a way to fuel economic growth for years. This is now his vision coming into reality. So, they are taking this moment together as a meeting of the minds to highlight that.
Also, in recent days, Barack Obama has been criticized by some of his more liberal supporters for surrounding himself with what they perceive as centrists. So, bringing Al Gore in, having a photo-op with him, is a way to remind the liberals that, look, he has a very progressive agenda, at least on the environment. And, so, it's a way to remind them and reassure them that he's not moving very far the right.
But one thing I should assure you, Anderson, no staying up late tonight wondering if Al Gore is joining the administration. I'm told by sources both close to Gore and to Obama, Al Gore is very happy with his day job. He will not be taking a formal position in the Obama administration -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jessica Yellin -- Jessica Yellin, thanks very much. One thing we are staying up late for and watching all throughout this hour is if any deal is actually reached in -- in the auto bailout. And we, of course, are going to bring you that information as warranted.
We want to know what you think about the bailout and Obama's plan. Join the live chat that's happening now at AC360.com. You can also check on Erica Hill's live Webcast during the break. She's already started that.
Up next, talking strategy about the Obama plan and when the recession may end -- a surprising report. David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and Marcus Mabry are standing by.
Also, O.J. Simpson spending his first more than 3,200 nights in prison. That's a -- a minimum of what he will spend. We have got a look inside his new medium-security home. He arrived there today.
And, later, what Oprah Winfrey is saying about Sarah Palin. Did the governor snub her? Hear it from Oprah herself -- tonight on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We are not simply going to write a bunch of checks and let them be spent, without some very clear criteria as to how this money is going to benefit the overall economy and put people back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President-elect Obama promising accountability, along with 2.5 million new jobs. Getting there may not be easy. It certainly isn't simple, economically or politically.
Let's talk some strategy.
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and Gloria Borger are here, also Marcus Mabry, international and business for "The New York Times."
So, David, there had been questions weeks ago, would Obama try a -- what some are calling a big bang approach, attempting a grand gesture. The stimulus infrastructure plan, it certainly seems to be a big bang, at least on paper.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It sure does.
A $507 billion package that's been discussed in recent days that will be put forward by the president-elect and may be put forward by as early as January, so Congress can get working on it before he takes office, could grow, Anderson. There's been some talk over the weekend of even a bigger package, you know, the Goldman Sachs economist saying a bigger package is needed. I know you have a hopeful report a little later in the program about the economy may brighten and may bounce back quickly. But mainstream folks right now think it's going to get darker and that unemployment is going to go up.
And, unlike the automobile bailout plan, which is opposed by a majority of Americans, a strong majority support Mr. Obama and putting forward this large stimulus package.
Marcus, how does this, though, not become just a pork-barrel feeding frenzy? I mean, if you have governors of states saying, oh, well, you can do this project and this project, how do we not end up with more bridges to nowhere?
MARCUS MABRY, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think -- in the short term, I think this is going to be, you know, Christmas comes in January, when Barack Obama takes office.
I think, in the short term, you will see hundreds of billions of dollars flying out there to the states.
And Obama has said that there are -- the governors told him they have tens of billions...
COOPER: ... that are shovel-ready, ready to go.
MABRY: That's right, right, projects that are -- you know, the ground-breaking is ready to happen.
The problem is, though, you are going to add to that, also, you know, a lot of these states are going to strapped -- strapped for cash generally and -- just to meet their general obligations. So, I think we're going to be looking at -- you know, it could easily be obviously upwards of a trillion dollars by the time you're done with this in January.
COOPER: Is -- Gloria, is there a lot of tension between the Bush White House and Obama's team over, you know, how to spend the $700 billion that -- that was originally allocated?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I -- I was talking to an Obama source today who is involved in the negotiations over how to deal with the rest of this money.
And he said, look, it's a very, very difficult situation we're in. If we have any disagreements with the Bush administration, we're going to keep it private right now, because that's what we believe we need to do. But, he said, if the Bush administration has any specific questions that they want us to answer about how we want things done, we will answer them. But they are still running the government. So, all we can do is answer their questions.
So, it's a -- it's a -- it's a tough situation, Anderson.
COOPER: David, this breaking news we're following about negotiations over the auto bailout, you know, they keep talking about this car czar. Have we ever seen anything like this? I mean, I -- everyone always, it seems to me, throws out the term czar when they don't know what else to do.
COOPER: But, I mean, it is a -- it's a government official overseeing private companies.
GERGEN: Well, we have had occasional czars during time of war. World War I, there was a -- a mobilization of the country, the economy, and Washington had a large hand in it.
And during the Depression and then, in World War II, the government had a very, very major role. I think it's important to make sure we keep clear that there are several different funds here. There's the stimulus package of $500 billion to $700 billion.
What Gloria was talking about was the old $700 billion...
GERGEN: ... that's been committed to the financial industry. And that's where the areas of disagreement are right now between Obama and the -- and the -- and the White House.
BORGER: No, the stimulus...
GERGEN: And then there's a third thing, which is this automobile package.
COOPER: Right. And who knew we would be talking about throwing around $700 billion packages, like there would be multiple $700 billion packages.
BORGER: And the stimulus package is the one that has the support.
And, as this source was telling me, he said, you know what, Gloria, we're in a situation now where we're writing a stimulus package. We're sort of where any normal incoming administration would be in March or April of their term. And what we are trying to do right now is get something ready for January 20 that is an enormous package, and doing it very quickly, without all of our people in place.
It's -- it's really quite a challenge for them.
MABRY: And this is the other problem. They also have, with the car czar...
GERGEN: And, without access to the...
COOPER: Go ahead.
MABRY: This is the other problem they also have with the car czar.
You know, you are talking about probably two administrations who, hopefully, Nancy Pelosi was saying today, will actually work together, both the Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration, to try and settle on one car czar who can actually have a term that is going to last longer than George W. Bush.
MABRY: It's unprecedented cooperation we're talking about for unprecedented challenges.
BORGER: You know, and you're also trying to get something passed in the Congress with -- with members who -- Republicans who lost elections, who are not going to be coming back, with Democrats looking forward to a new administration. It's -- it's difficult.
GERGEN: I was going to -- I was going to say, Anderson, one thing is, what's hard to do when you are on the outside, you don't have access to the computers in the government, which have all these programs, which you feed information into those programs of what a program would look like.
GERGEN: And then they give you some sense of what it does for the economy, what's a real bounce.
Those are all over at the Treasury Department. If you are sitting there...
BORGER: Right. GERGEN: ... you know, in an office somewhere in Obama land, you don't have access to that. And it's just a lot harder to think through.
I would also wonder whether Gloria thinks this. I wonder whether the Republicans may be a little bit more resistant today than they would have been a few weeks ago, before Chambliss won in Georgia as a Democrat (sic) in the Senate race, and then two Democrats (sic) picked up seats in Louisiana over the weekend, three seats that were -- went to the Republicans in the last few days, when Obama was not on the ticket, whether that gives Republicans a little bit more...
BORGER: It might.
BORGER: It might, except, David, you know, the Republican congressional leadership, at least on the automaker bailout, has really been quite involved in crafting this package. And it's -- and I believe that the Republican leadership of the Senate will vote for it, but you will lose some Republicans.
COOPER: We -- we have got to...
GERGEN: They may not vote for the stimulus package, yes.
BORGER: Yes. Well, maybe both.
MABRY: That's harder.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there.
David, Gloria, Marcus, thanks very much.
Coming up next: some surprising news about the recession. Might it be over sooner than we think? Some top financial minds weigh in.
We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And, later, today's busy day for O.J. Simpson: moved from jail to his new home, a prison. We will take you inside the remote prison for a look at what O.J.'s new life may be like.
And did she or didn't she? Oprah coming clean about her alleged snub of Sarah Palin, and whether Sarah Palin will agree to be on Oprah Winfrey's show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS") OBAMA: Fortunately, as tough as times right now -- and things are going to get worse before they get better -- there is a convergence between circumstances and agenda.
The key for us is making sure that we jump-start that economy in a way that doesn't just deal with the short term, doesn't just create jobs immediately, but also puts us on a glide path for long-term sustainable economic growth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Bleak forecast from president-elect Barack Obama.
With nearly two million jobs lost this year, the idea that the economy will get worse before it gets better is certainly unnerving, to say the least.
In a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, a majority of Americans are cutting spending back on holiday gifts, leaving activities, and driving. So, when will this crushing recession end?
Tom Foreman has perhaps some surprising answers -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if you are unemployed, or cutting back on your Christmas shopping, or just trying to hold on to what you have, there is one question you really need answered right now
(voice-over): When will this economy start getting better? Amid growing layoffs, the continuing mortgage mess, and all that stock market mayhem, political leaders have been throwing around numbers like one to three years.
But, "Keeping Them Honest," increasingly, some financial forecasters are making far rosier predictions.
At "Money" magazine, Janice Revell keeps tabs on them all, and says the new consensus is:
JANICE REVELL, SENIOR WRITER, "MONEY": Believe it or not, we could actually be turning a corner as early as the end of the first quarter in 2009.
FOREMAN: Hold on. When did she say?
REVELL: As early as the end of the first quarter in 2009.
FOREMAN: Revell says the most optimistic views about a turnaround are driven by three simple arguments.
One, the government programs to help the economy are working. Buoyed by government bailout money, banks are already showing more willingness to lend to each other, which should gradually make more credit available to businesses and consumers. Two, consumer confidence will rise again. Many millions of people are scared for their jobs and cutting back now.
But, in the new year, with a new president, some economists expect a psychological boost, as most folks realize they still have jobs, homes and, things they want to buy.
And, three, the housing market is ready to revive. Sure, home values have plunged. Scads of bad mortgages are still expected to default.
Acclaimed financial forecaster Joel Naroff knows it all too well.
JOEL NAROFF, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS: `But there's a -- an interesting thing happening in a lot of parts of the country where there's a lot of foreclosures. Sales are picking up. The foreclosure prices that we're seeing are really the bottom of the market. And I wouldn't be surprised that, if a year from now, the economy is going pretty solidly.
FOREMAN (on camera): Any one of those three legs for this platform for economic recovery could collapse if the new administration makes an early mistake or if global financial markets remain chaotic -- if, if, if.
But, at least for the moment, for some financial analysts, there is real hope that this may be the darkness before the dawn -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, let's hope so -- a lot of ifs there.
Still ahead on 360: A Marine fighter jet slams into homes in a quiet Southern California neighborhood. We have new details about the deadly crash.
Also, O.J. Simpson arriving at his new prison today. We will take you inside, show you where O.J. Simpson will be living for at least the next nine years.
And did Sarah Palin snub Oprah? Was it the other way around? Oprah is speaking out about what really happened, whether Palin will ever actually come on her program.
COOPER: Well, in his heyday, his millions bought mansions. Today, O.J. Simpson moved into humbler digs: a medium-security prison. We're going to take you inside.
But, first, Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, two adults and a baby were killed in San Diego today when a military jet crashed into their home. Another person in that same house is still missing. The pilot ejected safely from his FA-18 moments before his plane went down. He's said to be in stable condition tonight. Five former Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted today on multiple counts of manslaughter tied to the shooting deaths of 14 Iraqis in Baghdad last year. A sixth man who cut a deal with them -- will testify, rather, against them. An attorney for the men said they acted in self-defense.
New York Republican Congressman Vito Fossella was sentenced to five days in jail today for a drunk driving conviction. His arrest last May triggered revelations that the married politician from Staten Island had fathered a child with his mistress in the Washington area. Fossella leaves Congress next month.
If you have ever wondered who says no to the mighty O., well, it turns out the mavericks may not do "Oprah." Sarah Palin apparently not interested in sitting down with Oprah, who made it clear today it is not the other way around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: First of all, I never snubbed her. Let's just clear that up. I never snubbed her. There was never any conversation about having her on prior to the election, because I always knew I wasn't going to do anybody.
You know, we all ask for interviews that you don't get. But I hear she has a book coming out. So maybe she'll talk to me then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: A spokesman for the governor told CNN tonight it's nothing personal, adding Palin has received more than 250 interview requests and turned most of them down, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Tell me about it. I know.
HILL: Oh, really? Snubbing Anderson Cooper?
COOPER: I guarantee you when she has a book out she'll be on Oprah so fast.
HILL: Really? Is she going to be on "AC 360" when she gets the book out?
COOPER: I bet not.
HILL: Maybe not.
COOPER: I'm just betting. She's welcome.
HILL: There you go.
COOPER: Time for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption for a photo better than the caption that any of us around here could think up.
Tonight's picture: President Bush looking at a portrait of himself during its unveiling in Philadelphia on Saturday. Our staff winner tonight is Marshall with: "Check it out, Laura. I finally made it as an oil man."
(SOUND EFFECT: LAUGHTER)
COOPER: It's quite good, actually.
Our viewer winner is Ed from Sidney, Ohio, who won with this: "It's like the eyes follow me. Cheney, get out from behind that wall!"
(SOUND EFFECT: DRUM BEAT)
HILL: I like that one, Ed.
COOPER: Yes. Ed, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
You can check out all the entries and play along at AC360.com.
HILL: Makes a lovely holiday gift, as well.
COOPER: It certainly does.
Still ahead on 360, Bush and Barbra. Barbra Streisand, that is. She has bashed him for years. Now they share an awkward kiss on stage. It's our "Shot of the Day."
Plus, O.J. Simpson today moving into his new prison. We'll take you inside and show you what his life may be like.
And is Jay Leno leaving NBC? Reports of big changes ahead for the late-night star. It's been a question for a lot of months on a lot of people's minds. We know for a fact what is going to happen to him. We'll tell you, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O.J. SIMPSON, CONVICTED OF ARMED ROBBERY: I didn't want to hurt anybody. I just wanted my personal things, and I realize it was stupid of me. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal anything from anybody, and I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was confronting friends and retrieving my property. So I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Surreal. Choking up in the courtroom in front of the cameras. That was O.J. Simpson's statement Friday to the judge before she sentenced him for his role in a Las Vegas armed robbery. Simpson is going to have to spend at least nine years behind bars. He won't be eligible for parole until he is 70.
During his stay at the Vegas jail, Simpson reportedly treated fellow inmates to candy bars, giving them Snickers and other snacks. Well, today the convicted felon was moved out of his temporary residence and transferred to his new home. Take a look. Here it is: Nevada's High Desert state prison. Depressing place.
The medium security facility houses only men. There are close to 3,000 currently confined behind the walls. It's about 45 miles from the Vegas strip but really a world away.
After being processed and evaluated, Simpson will be assigned a cell. They're either singles or doubles, we're told. The cells run about 78 square feet.
High Desert has a segregation housing unit. And given Simpson's notoriety, some believe that is where he'll end up. There's a chapel, a law library, a coffee shop and several dining rooms. Simpson will be served three meals a day at a cost of $2.18 to the state. Simpson's attorney has said they will appeal.
Joining us for "Crime & Punishment," the man who wrote the book on all things O.J., CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and also with us, trial lawyer and anchor of "In Session," Lisa Bloom.
What -- what will life be like for him in this facility?
JEFFREY, TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It will stink. Prison stinks. Prison is awful.
You know, I remember when O.J. got acquitted. Some said, "Oh, this will be worse for him, because he'll be an outcast." The only people who can say that are people who have never visited an American prison. It's terrible to be there. It's boring. It's probably not dangerous for him, given his celebrity. But it is a miserable existence.
COOPER: Do you think he will be in a segregated unit?
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": I think he will. Celebrities usually are. He was when he was in jail.
And remember, he hasn't been in state prison before. This is the first time. He was in the L.A. County jail awaiting his criminal trial 13 years ago. But this is the first time in state prison. Very different than being in jail.
COOPER: Jails are hugely different than prison?
BLOOM: Yes. I mean, look, jail is not such a great thing either, but it's much nicer than being in prison. Prison is desolate. It's barren. It's cold. And most people don't realize: you don't get any therapy, counseling, anger management, none of that in prison.
As you say, there's a law library. He may have some access to it. But it's a very cold, foreboding kind of place.
TOOBIN: I bet he will try to get out of segregation. He is someone who feels he can get along with anybody. He is -- and he does get along with anybody.
COOPER: It was interesting to hear from -- today from his people saying that that's one of the things he was doing while he was in jail, is befriending people and giving them candy bars as, I guess, a way of making friends.
TOOBIN: He is -- has always been this tremendous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. He is very popular with lots of people. But he has these anger issues, to use the cliche, that resulted in him killing two people. So I mean, he's -- but he probably will get along with his fellow prisoners, I think.
COOPER: Because somebody is a celebrity in prison, what, other people want to mess with him because then it gives them residual fame?
BLOOM: I mean, let's not sugarcoat it. It is survival of the fittest in prison. There's a lot of violence. It's a huge racial schism in most prisons. There's the white gangs. There's the black gangs. And very rarely is there interaction between the two.
So it remains to see how he's going to do, who he's going to associate himself with. Usually, it's the toughness and the brutality and the violence that preserves you in prison. He's 61 years old.
COOPER: We're going to have more on O.J. Simpson coming up. We're going to take a short break. Jeffrey and Lisa are going to stick around.
Also, we'll take a look at what his chances of actually winning an appeal may be. Our panel weighs in.
Plus, we'll show you how a food shortage halfway around the world might one day cause the next deadly super virus to jump from animals to humans. A "Planet in Peril" preview when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMPSON: I called the Brian family, and I said I had the chance to get some of our property back. But you can never figure out who was selling it. This was the first time I had an opportunity to catch the guys red-handed who had been stealing from my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He says he just wanted his stuff back. A Las Vegas jury disagreed. Now it is nine years in prison before O.J. Simpson is eligible in the Nevada desert. That's where he's going to be in prison, in this place. Depending on good behavior, Simpson may join work programs, like janitorial and food service. He'll also have access to the law library, possibly trying to map out an appeal.
Let's talk about the appeal chances, dig deeper. Back with us again, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and "In Session" anchor Lisa Bloom. Lisa, what are his chances of getting an appeal?
BLOOM: I think they're very low. And the appeal was supposed to be filed today. It's going to be filed tomorrow. We're still well within the 30-day time period.
Two issues, I think, possible on appeal for O.J. Simpson. One is the lack of any African-Americans on the jury. They were excluded by the prosecution. There were two African-American alternates. So out of a jury of 18, including the alternates, two were African-American, which is higher than the percentage in the population in Nevada. That's helpful to the state. The other issue is...
COOPER: That is higher than the percentage of the population of Nevada?
BLOOM: Yes, yes. It's a little over 10 percent. It's a little under 10 percent in the state of Nevada. So that's helpful to the state, because nobody knows who the alternates were going to be until they were chosen.
The second issue is the tapes, these key tapes that came into the trial, the planning, the incident itself and the aftermath. The defense maintained throughout the trial those tapes should not have been entered into evidence. There were some problems with the tapes. They could have been tampered with. Even the prosecution experts were a little shaky on whether those tapes were valid.
COOPER: The people who made the tapes are totally sleazy. I mean, the whole thing just -- it just stunk.
BLOOM: Well, that's true. And nobody knows whether they were edited. Remember, they went to TMZ.com before they went to the police. So were they authenticated? Were they valid in the eyes of the law?
COOPER: Did they call Harvey Levin to go up?
BLOOM: No he didn't come in.
TOOBIN: But appeals courts look at the law the way Lisa described it. But they also get a sense of the case. And I think one thing O.J. may have in his favor on an appeal is that the judges on the appeals court may say, you know, this is too much. This was overcharged...
COOPER: You actually agree with them on that.
TOOBIN: Well, I have to say I'm torn on that. I think this case, had this not been O.J. Simpson, it would not be prosecuted the way it was. But, as we now know, he turned down a very generous plea bargain. His own stupidity, arrogance.
COOPER: There was a plea bargain, reportedly, that could have gotten him, basically, out of jail in three years. TOOBIN: And -- I mean, this is such classic O.J. He not only wanted this easy plea bargain. He wanted the other people to apologize to him. Remember from his statement in court, he kept talking about how they apologized to him. This incredible narcissism that is such a part of his character was so much to his detriment because he turned down this great deal...
COOPER: So you think he was surprised by this nine-year...
TOOBIN: Well, by the time he got to the sentencing he probably wasn't surprised, because his lawyers had prepared him. But certainly, he was surprised to be convicted, and he has this crazy arrogance that he thought he beat this thing.
BLOOM: And he really -- it seems like he's really convinced himself that he was in the right. You know, his big position throughout the trial and in the statement that you just showed was, "This was my stuff. I just wanted to get my stuff back."
In fact, that was never proved at trial. The prosecution wanted to show it wasn't his stuff. It was stuff that he was hiding from the law when there was an execution order that the Goldmans got against him back in 1996. He was ferreting things away through his agent.
TOOBIN: And even if it is your stuff, the way to get it back is not to barge in with guns and take it back.
BLOOM: Of course.
TOOBIN: You know, I'm not the greatest fan of the legal profession in the world, but maybe you hire a lawyer or you do things in an orderly way.
COOPER: Even call the police.
TOOBIN: Or call the police.
COOPER: That's another good option.
BLOOM: Which he didn't do.
COOPER: Is it safe to say the Goldman family -- I mean, have they tried to get money -- because they got the civil verdict. They are deserving of money, according to the court.
COOPER: Are they ever going to be able to get more?
BLOOM: Probably not because once he's in prison, of course, he's legally prohibited from working and earning any more money. It think -- they've made statements they feel this is good karma now, that O.J.'s own bad deeds have caught up with him. They'll probably continue to pursue him and...
COOPER: He still makes money from his NFL pension which they can't -- which is not...
TOOBIN: Under Florida law, he can't get the pension. But the Goldmans did get the money from that crazy book, "If I Did It," last year.
COOPER: Did that make any money? Do we know?
TOOBIN: Well, yes. They got the advance. So there was a substantial amount of money. I actually have been surprised that the Goldmans have done as well as they have. They have been zealous in going after O.J.
BLOOM: Well, they had said they're going to pursue him by any means necessary and legal until the end of his days. And by the way, they got that book just days before this incident in Las Vegas. I've always thought there was potentially a connection, because it really drove him crazy that they were able to snatch that book away from him.
They said this took place in Nevada, because if it took place in California they would have the items seized under the turnover order. That's why it happened in Nevada and now, ironically, he's facing a very long prison term in Nevada.
COOPER: All right. Lisa Bloom, Jeff Toobin. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Still ahead, talk about awkward moments. Barbra Streisand, President Bush. Did you see this? They had to make nice the other night. What else could they do with the cameras clicking? It's our shot of the day.
Plus, our "Planet in Peril." A race against time. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I on the trail of hidden viruses lurking in the forests of central Africa and why it should matter to you. Find out tonight.
COOPER: Important programming note: CNN's second "Planet in Peril" documentary premieres this Thursday night, 9 p.m. Eastern. The reason why the letters "CNN" on the screen are green, not red.
For the past year, Sanjay Gupta, Lisa Ling and I have been traveling around the world to the front lines in the battle over our natural resources. In central Africa, food shortages are actually driving people deep into the forest to hunt for animals to eat. Now, of course, they don't really have a choice, but it's risky because of the viruses the animals may carry. Viruses which could one day have an impact on all of us.
Want you to take a look. But be warned: some of the images might be tough to take.
COOPER (voice-over): January, 2008. Rising food prices touch off riots around the world. In Haiti, ten people die. In Cameroon, 20 are killed. Unable to afford basic supplies, people increasingly turn to the forest for food.
June 2008, deep in a remote region of Cameroon, two hunters stalk their prey. Their names are Patrice (ph) and Petty (ph). They're searching for bush meat, forest animals they can kill to feed their families.
(on camera) Patrice (ph) and Petty (ph) set out most days to go out hunting in the forests around their homes. They have a series of traps, of snares that they've set up who catch wild pigs, snakes, monkeys, rodents, anything they can, really.
(voice-over) Patrice (ph) and Petty (ph) have been out for hours but found nothing. The animals are simply gone.
Not too far away, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with another hunter. But he, too, is finding his traps empty.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've been trekking for about an hour now. It'll really give you an idea of just how hard it is to actually get even a little bit of food.
Petty (ph), who is trying to provide enough food for nine people tonight, doesn't really care what he gets at this point, as long as he gets something. We can tell you, we've still got a long ways to go. Because it's hot. It is humid. It is a lot of work.
COOPER: Hunters have to keep going deeper into the forest. But that is where hidden danger lurks. Forest animals are a reservoir of viruses, microscopic pathogens living in the animal's blood. Some are harmless, but some are potentially deadly when passed to humans.
There's nothing new about these viruses. But what is new is the frequency of our contact with them and how easily they can now be spread around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Individuals have been infected with these viruses forever. What's changed, though, is in the past you had smaller human populations. Viruses would infect them and possibly go extinct. Viruses actually need population density as fuel.
COOPER: Dr. Nathan Wolf (ph) is a world-renowned epidemiologist, a virus hunter who works in these forests, tracking what are called zoonotic viruses, ones that can jump from humans to animals. It's the zoonotic viruses that scientists think could trigger the next pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I look around in this forest, part of what I'm thinking is what's the diversity of viruses out there?
COOPER: It may sound far-fetched, but it's already happened. HIV is the deadliest example.
(on camera) It was in a forest not too far from here in Southern Cameroon that scientists now believe HIV was born. They say it started with a chimpanzee, infected by several strains of viruses from eating smaller monkeys. An infected chimp's blood then must have come in contact with the blood of a human being, most likely, say scientists, a hunter or someone cutting up the chimp for cooking.
That simple, seemingly insignificant transmission set off a global epidemic, a pandemic that so far has killed tens of millions of people.
(voice-over) Scientists now believe HIV crossed into humans in the early 1900s. But it wasn't until air travel increased that it spread and became a global epidemic in the 1980s.
(on camera) Is it inevitable there will be another pandemic of some virus like HIV?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The human population is going to have pandemics. That's just the nature of how we operate now. We are so profoundly interconnected. But it will be the case that things will enter into the human population, and they'll spread globally.
COOPER: "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" airs this Thursday, 9 p.m. Eastern. You can also go to CNN.com/PlanetInPeril to see dispatches from the fields, some amazing still photography from Jeff Hutchins (ph) and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the documentary.
Up next, a surprising decision about what's going to happen to Jay Leno. Conan O'Brien was all set to replace him, but is that still going to happen? Tonight, new details about the future of "The Tonight Show."
And it wasn't anything like butter. Barbra and Bush, the kiss that has all Washington talking. Next.
COOPER: And late word tonight that NBC's Jay Leno, the leader in late-night ratings, is headed for a new time slot in primetime and on NBC.
"The New York Times" reporting that NBC is expected to announce tomorrow that Leno signed a new contract for a 10 p.m. show Monday through Friday.
As you can see, if you look closely at "The New York Times," on their Web site announcement, my "Zelig" moment. I somehow made it into the story by way of this picture. I was on -- I was a guest on "The Tonight Show" last month. And now they're going to be a direct competitor to this show.
Leno has been the host since 1993. Conan O'Brien is set to take over in 2010. This would be a way for NBC, obviously, to keep Leno in the mix. It would also be the first time a broadcast network offered the same show in primetime five nights a week. It's not clear when this new arrangement will begin. So congratulations to Jay Leno.
HILL: You think he's worried about going up against AC? COOPER: I think he's a little worried.
HILL: I would be if I were you.
COOPER: He's got to be a little worried going up against us. But you know what? We're ready.
HILL: We welcome the competition.
COOPER: We'll take him.
HILL: Bring it on, Jay.
COOPER: Bring it on, Jay.
HILL: OK. How about we do "The Shot."
HILL: Jay Leno doesn't have a "Shot."
COOPER: He doesn't have a "Shot." He doesn't even know what the shot is.
HILL: No, he doesn't. I'll show you a "Shot," Jay Leno. Here's a "Shot" for you. One that you're going to need your tissues for.
Three-year-old Kensley Penny (ph) had a wish for Santa this Christmas. She wanted to see her dad, Sergeant Scotty Penny (ph), come home. He'd been in Afghanistan since March. A few nights ago, Kensley's (ph) wish came true when her dad surprised her at a holiday gathering in North Carolina. Her reaction here, priceless. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, daddy. Hi, daddy. I missed you. I love you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Pretty sweet.
HILL: I think we kind of have -- that's the wonderful emotional tug at your heartstrings.
HILL: Hey, it's the holidays "Shot." I think we have two "Shots" tonight. Don't we?
COOPER: There was a tear jerker. And it was -- I'm going to raise you, though, the weepy, blubbering encounter between President Bush and Barbra Streisand. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC: "The Way We Were")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's see it again, shall we? I like the woman on the right. Not even paying attention.
COOPER: Not even looking.
HILL: No, no.
COOPER: We have, of course, added the music and slowed down the shot. The president and Barbra Streisand...
HILL: I think that's how it felt to both of them, too. It was slow. It was moving.
COOPER: It was a short -- yes. It was an awkward kiss that, no doubt, they are replaying in their minds a lot.
HILL: Ad nauseam.
COOPER: This was at the Kennedy Center Honors. As you know, she is not a fan of President Bush.
HILL: In case you missed it, there it is again. Yes.
COOPER: There it is again. All right.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the latest developments as lawmakers working into the night on a bailout for the Big Three carmakers. Stay tuned.