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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Flunking History; Public Official, Private Vendetta; Accused Arizona Gunman in Court; Homeschooled Whiz Kid

Aired January 24, 2011 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again. Welcome to 360, everyone.

Tonight: the congresswoman who will be on national television tomorrow night or online responding to President Obama's State of the Union message. She's flunking the very history she says she reveres. Michele -- Michele Bachmann speaking out about the nation's founding but getting her facts wrong. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: new evidence in the case of that Michigan public official pursuing a private vendetta against a gay college student. Tonight, he's a former official and results of an official investigation are in, and they are startling. We will tell you what we -- what we have learned about him today.

And the alleged Tucson shooter in court today facing charges with a smile. A smile? We will tell you what was behind the grin of this alleged mass murderer and update you on the condition of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

We begin, though, as always, "Keeping Them Honest", with some startling new comments by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann about American history, comments that are either a deliberate rewriting of our history or signs she has a shaky grasp on our history.

Now, you might wonder, why does this matter? Is this just an attack on a controversial lawmaker? We don't think so. Plenty of lawmakers, Republicans, Democrats, state and local and national officials, probably don't know all they should about American history, TV anchors as well.

But Michele Bachmann has repeatedly trumpeted her understanding of the Constitution and our nation's founding. She also reportedly has presidential ambitions of her own. And, tomorrow night, she will be giving her own response to President Obama's State of the Union speech online.

What she says matters because people do listen to her, and we think facts matter, particularly when it's facts about our founding as a nation.

So, here's what she said. You can judge for yourself. Speaking to a group called Iowans for Tax Relief Congressman Bachmann seemed to whitewash our painful history over slavery. Instead of facing some of the less pretty facts of America's founding, she airbrushed herself some new history.

Here she is talking about what people have faced throughout history when coming to America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: It didn't matter the color of their skin. It didn't matter their language. It didn't matter their economic status. It didn't matter whether they descended from nobility or whether they were of a higher class or a lower class. It made no difference. Once you got here, we were all the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, as much as we wish that was the case, as good as that sounds, that's simply not true. Whether she was talking about the founding of our nation or the experience of immigrants throughout our history, we were not treated all the same.

Irish immigrants didn't feel the same walking past storefronts with signs reading "No Irish need apply." Japanese Americans didn't feel the same when they were placed in internment camps during World War II. And, of course, enslaved Africans certainly didn't feel the same when they were brought here against their will.

Michele Bachmann mentioned slavery, but only to say it was something the founding fathers couldn't wait to get rid of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: We know there was slavery that was still tolerated when the nation began. We know that was an evil and it was a scourge and a blot and a stain upon our history.

But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.

And I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forebears, who worked tirelessly, men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, again, Congresswoman Bachmann has her facts wrong. Many of the founders owned slaves. George Washington owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that "all men are created equal," owned slaves. Jefferson was certainly conflicted about it, but others were not.

And let's remember, the Constitution itself, as glorious a document as it is, the Constitution itself established a slave as three-fifths of a person. It was a political compromise.

As for John Quincy Adams, well, Ms. Bachmann is right. He was a tireless campaigner against slavery, especially during his 17 years in Congress after leaving the White House. But he was not a founding father, as she sort of implied. He died years before emancipation and the Civil War.

Now, this is certainly not the first time that Congresswoman Bachmann has gotten the facts wrong or invented her own facts. Just recently on 360, she claimed President Obama's trip to Asia would cost $200 million a day. We showed how that report was completely unfounded, tracing it to an unnamed Indian official quoted by a foreign news service.

There are plenty of other examples, but we focus on this tonight, not just because Congresswoman Bachmann is going to be speaking tomorrow night, but because we believe facts matter, particularly where our history is concerned.

And one of the many things that make this country great is that we are able to examine our past. We are at our best when we learn from the past, painful though it may be. Rewriting history does no one any good. It doesn't honor our real history. And it certainly doesn't help us learn about ourselves.

We invited Congresswoman Bachmann on the program tonight. She declined. We asked her for a statement that might explain her comments. She never responded.

Instead, we're joined by former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari. Currently, she's president of the consulting firm Susan Molinari Strategies; also, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and historian Professor Eddie Glaude Jr., who chairs the African-American Studies Department at Princeton University.

Professor, what do you make of her comments? Is this a whitewashing of history?

EDDIE GLAUDE JR., CHAIR, AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, in part, I think it is.

But I think, you know, what it -- what it -- what it suggests is that she lacks a little nuance, to put it gently. We do know that there was debate among the founding fathers about slavery. Some opposed slavery outright. Others were indifferent. But still others were quite committed to slavery, economically and socially.

What happened as a result of that debate wasn't resolution, but, as you mentioned at the top of the piece, was compromise, the three- fifths compromise, and also the fugitive slave clause, which allowed slave owners to retrieve their escaped property.

What I think she would have been better equipped to do is not appeal necessarily to the founders, but appeal to a different tradition, a tradition of Americans who sought to correct the contradictions around our democratic principles evident in our practice. And that is the abolitionist movement in the 1830s.

She should have invoked William Lloyd Garrison, Lydia Maria Child, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, those who laid down their lives in interesting sorts of ways to protect democratic principles, to lift up the ideas of democratic freedom. But I have a strange suspicion that Michele Bachmann would label many of them, shall we say, un-American or terrorists.

COOPER: Paul, does this matter? I mean, comments like this, does it matter?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- look, you know, it's a good news/bad news thing, Anderson.

I suppose the good news is, there are some in her party who will appreciate this. Maybe even she -- maybe she can win the Republican nomination. The bad news is, probably can't win "Who's Smarter than a Fifth Grader".

She is running at a fringe. You know, her party has a lot of terribly, terribly bright people. We just saw Rudy Giuliani, one of them, interviewed by Piers Morgan.

But there's a fringe in her party that does seem to want to go back to the old days of the Know Nothings, who, by the way, were a 19th century group who were bitterly prejudiced against Catholics, Jews, African-Americans and almost everybody else they could think of. I'm not saying that that's what she is.

I'm just saying that there's a strain in her party that seems to say, I have -- I have got my mind made up, don't confuse me with the facts.

COOPER: Susan, do facts matter in this case?

SUSAN MOLINARI (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Of course facts matter. Michele Bachmann is one individual of the Republican Party. But there's -- as -- as Paul has said, there's many great, wonderful spokespeople for the Republican Party.

I think what Michele Bachmann was trying to say was to -- to look more positively towards our history and -- and the history of the United States. I don't think she meant anything negative about it.

I don't really quite understand why it's such a big deal right now, when I thought we were here to discuss the State of the Union speech. But I guess we decided to change our mind.

So, I -- I'm not really quite prepared to discuss why she said what she said or what its impact was, because --

COOPER: Why do you think --

(CROSSTALK)

MOLINARI: -- that's not what I thought we were going to discuss this evening.

COOPER: Why -- why do you think she's decided to make her own response to the State of the Union speech?

MOLINARI: You know, I -- I'm not really sure why she decided to make her own State of the Union speech. She's always been very active. She's been a vocal spokesperson for her beliefs and -- and for the Tea Party.

Clearly, as you know, Paul Ryan, the new chairman of the Budget Committee and someone who is considered very conservative and very proactive when it comes to reducing the deficit, and is quite a -- a fiscal hawk when he was in the minority, and now pledges to be in the majority. As a spokesperson chosen by the Republican Party and the Republican Party leadership to lay the vision that the Republican Party has in terms of cutting spending, reducing the deficit and -- and restoring fiscal discipline to our nation.

COOPER: Paul does it make sense for her -- for Michele Bachmann to have her own response out there?

BEGALA: For Ms. Bachmann -- honestly, I know I was making fun of her before -- but, yes, I think it does for her. I don't think it's helpful for the Republican Party, for the reasons that Susan states.

Paul -- and maybe actually not so good for the Democrats, because guys like me, we go for the glittery sharp object out there and forget that it's a fishing lure and we get hooked. In other words, we will get distracted by Michele Bachmann, when we ought to be focusing on Paul Ryan.

He is the chairman now of the House Budget Committee now. He does have a blueprint out there for the budget that would privatize Social Security, turn it over Wall Street, turn Medicare into a voucher program, cut taxes on the rich, eliminate taxes on corporations, and raise taxes on everybody between $20,000 a year and $200,000. So, it hammers the middle class, creams the poor, and helps the rich. That's the Ryan plan.

But I really am afraid, and myself included, that we will get distracted by Ms. Bachmann, because she's a little more colorful than perhaps Congressman Ryan.

MOLINARI: Well, and probably what we should be talking about is what the President of the United States intends to do to reduce the deficit that's grown by almost $2 trillion since the last State of the Union and has seen unemployment go up since the last State of the Union.

I mean I think that's probably the discussion that the American people want to hear and are anxious to see what the solutions that the President of the United States going to put forward in order to change the direction of the nation.

COOPER: Paul, what do you want to hear from the President?

BEGALA: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Let me tell you, I know -- I will have to actually be covering it, I suppose, and analyzing it for CNN, so I can't do it, but I want a drinking game where, every time he says the word jobs, I get to have a beer. But every time he says the word competitiveness, a five- syllable word that really doesn't mean very much, I'm going to want to throw up.

In fact, George W. Bush had an American initiative for competitiveness in his State of the Union in 2006, and it didn't do us any good. I think this is simple stuff. I have never seen the country more focused on one -- one -- one need, and that is jobs.

And if he's dancing around, either with euphemisms, like American competitiveness, or in fact, ignoring jobs, which I can't imagine, I think that's where he -- he needs to be, is in that sweet spot of saying, I'm going to talk about the future, and I'm going to talk about jobs. And we will let Ms. Bachmann talk about the past and Mr. Ryan talk about privatizing Social Security.

MOLINARI: Well, and I think there's a real difference between the two political parties that we're going to have a year-long discussion on, and that is how do we get to those jobs.

And I think there is a great divide in this nation right now between those who want to cut -- want to cut the deficit and reduce the debt, in order to make us more competitive, and those who want to create government investments in order to create those jobs.

And I think that is going to be the defining difference between the two political parties moving forward.

COOPER: We have got to leave it there.

Susan, Paul, Eddie, appreciate you being us.

Let's -- let us know on the live chat what you think. AC360.com, that's the Web address.

Coming up next: remember that assistant attorney general in Michigan fired for harassing and attacking online a gay college student? His name is Andrew Shirvell. He's been fired already, but, tonight, some startling new information about what his boss really knew. It's new information that shows Shirvell wasn't telling the truth when he appeared on this program. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And later: accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner smiling in court today, laughing to himself, we're told. He entered his plea on murder charges -- disturbing reports about his demeanor. We will talk with Ted Rowlands, who was in the courtroom. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: New information tonight in a story we have been "Keeping Them Honest" on from the beginning. Information confirming -- confirming our reporting that a public law enforcement official was conducting a private vendetta and more, that he was doing it, in part, on taxpayer time, not just exercising his First Amendment rights, as he and his boss, the attorney general, contended at the time.

We're talking about this guy, Andrew Shirvell. That's him. At the time he came on the program, he was a -- a Michigan State assistant attorney general. He has since been fired over his fixation on a young gay college student named Chris Armstrong, who is the first openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan.

Now, Shirvell said that Chris Armstrong had a -- quote, unquote -- "radical homosexual agenda", and created an entire blog online attacking the guy, making up all sorts of lies about him; allegations, unfounded stories. This is a screen shot of one blog posting. It has a picture of the student, Chris Armstrong, with a -- a Nazi insignia over it with the word "Resign". A rainbow flag there with the swastika right in the center.

Now, there's months of postings like this by Mr. Shirvell, page after page, unproven allegations, smears. He calls the college students a Nazi-like recruiter for the cult that is homosexuality. He called him a privileged pervert. He even called him Satan's representative on the student assembly. That's a quote. Those were all quotes.

In addition, Shirvell has shouted down Armstrong in public and has appeared outside his home at 1:30 in the morning videotaping and then calling the police. Since then, as I said, he's been fired.

His boss, Mike Cox, has been superseded as attorney general. And, tonight, we got a hold of the Michigan attorney general's office's investigation into the whole affair.

First, though, I just want to set up with what -- what -- to let you know what Mr. Shirvell said in his own defense and what Attorney General Cox said about his behavior on this program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I have got to ask you, you're a state official. This is a college student. What are you doing?

ANDREW SHIRVELL, FORMER MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Anderson, basically, if you have been involved in political campaigns before, you know all sorts of stuff happens, and this is just another tactic bringing awareness to what Chris really stands for.

COOPER: This is not some national figure. This is a guy who's running a student council.

SHIRVELL: Well -- well, Anderson, as a private citizen, and as a University of Michigan alum, I care, because this is my university. And I wasn't the only first person to criticize Chris.

In fact, long before I started the blog, a couple of weeks before that, the Alliance Defense Fund, a well-known legal Christian foundation, put out an alert about Chris. So, I'm not the only person that has criticized Chris, and I'm not the first person to criticize Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But you are the only person -- you are the only person running this blog, which is putting Nazi swastikas on this guy. You're -- you're a grown adult. Does that seem appropriate to you?

SHIRVELL: Well, like I said, this is a political campaign. This is nothing personal against Chris. I don't know Chris.

COOPER: What do you mean it's nothing personal? You're outside his house. You're videotaping his house. You're shouting him down at public events. You're calling him Satan's representative on the student council. You're attacking his -- his parents, his friends' parents. I mean, you can't say it's not personal.

SHIRVELL: Well, Chris -- in any political campaign, you have to raise awareness and issues, and that's one way of doing it, is by protesting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It was bizarre, to say the least. Now, I should mention, Mr. Shirvell is not involved in a political campaign. He's not running for anything, nor is this student, Chris Armstrong. He's already elected the student body president.

When we had the attorney general, Cox, on the program a few days later, his boss, he condemned Mr. Shirvell's actions, but downplayed any overlap with his job, his public capacity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE COX, FORMER MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: First and foremost, Mr. Shirvell, his job is, he helps preserve state criminal convictions when they're challenged in federal court. He does that well from 8:30 to 5:00, very well. Him blogging, it's not impacting the mission of the office.

Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and -- and -- and engage in political and social speech.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So that's the backdrop.

Shirvell thinks he's exercising his right as a private citizen to enter the public fray, the political fray, even though his actions, which got him barred from the university campus, seemed more like harassment.

His boss was suggesting there that there was nothing he could do because of the First Amendment.

"Keeping Them Honest" though, the new attorney general report uncovered evidence that Shirvell verbally assaulted a supervisor at work, violated policy on contact with the media, improperly contacted a student's employer trying to get him fired, engaged in a reckless conduct, and refused to alter it, and more.

The report concludes that Shirvell used state resources to make some of these poisonous postings on his blog and Facebook, and misled investigators about it. Quoting from the report -- quote -- "Based on the evidence, we did not believe that Attorney -- Assistant Attorney General Shirvell was being truthful concerning this issue."

The report also says Shirvell was not telling the truth when he told us he was merely pretesting when he was videotaping outside Armstrong's house at 1:30 in the morning. Instead, the report reveals that he had gone there then called the police with the intent of creating a news story.

We wanted to invite Shirvell back on 360, but neither he nor his lawyer returned our calls. We did speak with his former boss, Mike Cox, who told us that supervisors handling Shirvell's case did not inform him about the prior incidents of harassment using the attorney general's office resources.

He said he had nothing more to say and would not be issuing a statement about it.

Joining us now is Deborah Gordon, attorney for Chris Armstrong, and CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.

Deborah, Mike Cox now says he didn't know about all these past incidents involving Shirvell until after the fact. Does that make any sense to you, given the findings in this report?

DEBORAH GORDON, ATTORNEY FOR CHRIS ARMSTRONG: No, it makes no sense to me at all.

If you look at the history of this guy, he has a lengthy history, even predating his time with the attorney general's office. Andrew Shirvell was arrested for assault and battery in 2001 for spitting on two people. He has a history of going after Log Cabin Republicans with despicable, disgusting e-mails. He had a drunk-driving conviction.

Now let's fast-forward to the time he gets to the attorney general's office. It's absolutely clear from a -- a review of his state-owned computer that he spent a great deal of time at work stalking Chris Armstrong and others, creating his ugly hate speech that he sent around.

Moreover, as you mentioned a moment ago, Cooper, he was involved in apparently -- just a horrible meltdown in August of 2010, so much so that a couple of the legal secretaries were terrified, and put in writing that they had never seen such conduct in all their time with the office.

COOPER: It seems --

GORDON: Now, that happened --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I mean, given all of what you said, it does seem hard to believe that the attorney general would come on this program and sort of say, well, like all of this is new -- new information to me, I didn't know about any of this, and he hasn't had prior problems, essentially.

GORDON: It seems extremely odd.

Now, I'm not saying -- perhaps he came on here without checking. I suppose that's remotely possible. It doesn't seem logical, but I don't know. I -- I do know that his investigators did a heck of a job investigating this guy now.

COOPER: Yes.

GORDON: And we do have the total picture, I believe.

But, having said that, no, he had a -- a trail at the attorney general's office.

COOPER: It -- it --

GORDON: He was up on Facebook, obviously, a very public place to be, with hate speech early in -- in 2010 --

COOPER: Yes.

GORDON: -- leading right up to the time of your show. The blog was up there. It -- you know the First Amendment has been thrown around a lot in this case and it's really offensive. I mean, they're hiding behind the First Amendment.

COOPER: I want to bring --

GORDON: This is not First Amendment-protected speech.

COOPER: I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin.

Pretty shocking it seems, what it took to get fired from the attorney general's office in the state of Michigan.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right.

And the -- and the backdrop that we haven't mentioned so far is that Shirvell was a campaign volunteer for Mike Cox, the attorney general.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And we have a -- we have a record of the checks that -- Mike Cox had actually paid Shirvell --

TOOBIN: Right.

COOPER: --- for his campaign work over the years.

TOOBIN: Not -- not -- not a volunteer. I misspoke.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: He was a volunteer, and then he was a paid staffer.

So, the question here is, did Cox protect Shirvell because he was a -- a political ally? You know, I -- I don't know what you can call his -- Shirvell's politics. They're sort of too weird to be called anything at all.

But, you know, Mike Cox is a conservative Republican who has not been supportive of gay rights. Shirvell obviously has this weird obsession with gay rights. I think the -- the -- the synergy there is the most troubling aspect of it. And the question is, was Cox protecting Shirvell, or was he simply ignorant of all the craziness that was going on in his office?

COOPER: The -- I mean, in defense of the attorney general, it's a big office. Is it possible that he just wasn't informed that one of his assistant attorney generals was screaming and threatening a supervisor?

TOOBIN: Anything's possible.

But, certainly, you would think -- I mean, I used to work in the government lawyer's offices. That sort of craziness is pretty unusual. And the boss would generally be informed of misconduct of that magnitude.

But can I say for sure that Cox knew?

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: I can't.

COOPER: I want to play, Deborah, some of what -- what the attorney general at the time, Mike Cox, said in his interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COX: The Supreme Court, both the United States Supreme Court in 1995 in a case called the U.S. v. Treasury Employees said that civil service employees in the federal system, and, by extension, in the state system, have free First Amendment rights outside of the work, as long as it doesn't impact their performance of -- of -- at their job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And we -- you already referred to that and -- and said you don't buy that.

What -- in terms of what -- what --

GORDON: I have never bought it. I have -- I have always -- I have always thought it's absurd. This is not First Amendment speech. It's not about politics. It's not even about homosexuality, per se. It's about going after particular individuals in order to try to ruin their lives. That's what it's about. That's clearly actionable in civil court. It's clearly disruptive to the attorney general's office.

COOPER: What do you want from him now? Are you suing -- are you, you know --

GORDON: Yes.

COOPER: -- pursuing legal action against him? And I know you're trying to get him disbarred, right?

GORDON: Yes, we are.

COOPER: Where does that stand?

GORDON: I -- I think he's -- no, well, we're -- clearly, in my opinion, he should not have a license to practice law.

He's running around, out of control. I think he's a reckless person. I think he's dangerous to others. He's trying to harm other people's lives. He's got a license. And he's used his license to try to get at people.

We don't have time tonight to discuss in all the ways he's done that, but, clearly, he's done that. So, he needs to -- to lose his license or be disciplined until he gets counseling. That's number one.

Number two, Mr. Shirvell could go a long way toward putting this thing back together to some extent by publicly retracting -- and I have asked for a retraction -- every one of his ridiculous, despicable lies about my client, my client's family and others.

COOPER: Right, because, I mean, the stuff he said --

GORDON: But he doesn't have the guts to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- on his blog was, I mean, completely unfounded, absolutely no proof, and completely offensive to Chris Armstrong, in terms of what -- I mean, I'm not even going to go into the details about what it said about Chris Armstrong, but he was clearly just making stuff up, without any proof.

He's never backtracked from any of that, right?

GORDON: No. Virtually every single entry was made up out of whole cloth, literally. I'm not exaggerating that.

COOPER: Yes.

GORDON: Virtually everything he said there is just created out of the mind of Andrew Shirvell. And he needs to retract what he said.

COOPER: So, you want to set the record straight so that, in the future, people Google --

GORDON: Look, we --

COOPER: -- Chris Armstrong, this stuff doesn't come up?

GORDON: -- we have to set the record straight. Either Shirvell is going to set it straight by retracting and apologizing and trying to make this right -- if he possibly can -- or we will have no other choice but to go to the court and have it done --

COOPER: Right.

GORDON: -- in a public forum.

COOPER: We have got to go.

Deborah Gordon --

GORDON: The record can't stand the way it is.

COOPER: I appreciate your -- your time. We will continue to follow it.

Jeff Toobin as well.

Coming up: accused Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner back in court today, smiling. There was a smile on his face, just like in this mug shot, we're told. We will talk to Ted Rowlands, who was in the courtroom. Also, an update on Congresswoman Giffords' condition.

And later, "Perry's Principles", meet the 14-year-old college student. That's right, college student, 14 years old. See how he is defying the odds of success.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Accused Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner smiled in court today, even apparently laughing to himself at one point. He pled not guilty on three counts of attempted murder. We'll talk to Ted Rowlands, who was there.

But first, we want to give you an update on Congresswoman Giffords. Doctors in Texas say she's still in intensive care, she has some fluid on her brain; can't start rehabilitation until the drain is removed. Doctors say she's doing some exercises in the ICU, moving, sitting and standing. And that she surprised them by not needing as much help doing those things as they thought she might. Still, though, it's a long road ahead.

When she's ready to go to rehabilitation from the ICU, the rehab process is expected to take up to six months.

We mentioned Loughner in court today. Interesting, his lawyer is a very high profile public defender. Her name is Judy Clark. This is her. She is a well-respected attorney who has a history of taking on cases that seem nearly untouchable. She defended the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski; the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh; Susan Smith, remember her, the woman who drowned her own kids in 1994.

Smith and Kaczynski were spared the death penalty, we should point out as was another of Clark's clients, the Olympic Park bomber, Eric Robert Rudolph. And now her attentions are turned to her latest client, Jared Lee Loughner.

Joining me live, former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin from "In Session" on our sister network TruTV; and from outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix, Ted Rowlands, who was in the courtroom.

Ted, he was laughing today in court; he was smiling?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was smiling when he entered court, Anderson.

It was about a 15 minute hearing in total. After he sat down at the desk with his attorney, he at one point seemed to chuckle a little bit and he would look around and occasionally would grin. Once the judge took the bench, he seemed to be more focused and just sort of stared straight ahead.

He didn't say anything at all during this hearing, unlike the last one. In fact those not guilty pleas you talked about, there were three of them, they were entered by the court at the request of Loughner's attorney Judy Clark, clearly setting the table for a possible insanity defense.

COOPER: In the courtroom drawing, Ted, it looks like he has hair. I guess, what -- is his hair growing back?

ROWLANDS: Absolutely yes. Two weeks ago he was completely bald. His hair is growing back. He's also wearing glasses now. He was also in shackles; both his legs and his arms were shackled but noticeable hair growth there over the last two weeks. He actually looked very different than he did that first time he entered the courtroom two weeks ago.

COOPER: Sunny, you think this is going to boil down to an insanity defense?

SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think there's no question about it. There's no question that she is going to seek an insanity defense --

COOPER: It's not as easy as it used to be.

HOSTIN: It really isn't and that's what most people don't understand. It's very rare that an insanity defense is successful. I've been looking all day at different statistics and most statistics say less than 1 percent. In less than one 1 percent of the cases the insanity defense is successful.

Even if she does sort of use this insanity defense, will it be successful? Probably not.

COOPER: So even if you have emotional issues or mentally unstable or bizarre in some way or another and need counseling, it doesn't mean you're insane?

HOSTIN: That's right because the burden --

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: Right. The burden is on the defense to prove that you were insane and that you knew the difference between right or wrong. In this case, he apparently posted on his MySpace page before these horrible crimes, saying to his friends, "I'm sorry, I apologize." That tells me perhaps he knew that what he was doing wrong. And that's going to tell a jury the same thing.

COOPER: And what do you make of the attorney? I mean she clearly had experience in high-profile cases. I didn't realize that there were, basically, national public defenders, kind of roving public defenders?

HOSTIN: That's right. Well, she's a federal public defender, and often times on the other side of the U.S. Attorney's office. I will say if you are in a position like this, this is the attorney you want.

She's been called sort of a one-woman dream team. She is fantastic. She's sort of quiet. She doesn't give interviews. Pretty reclusive but those that I have spoken to that know her say she's on the top of her game. Best possible attorney he could have.

COOPER: Do you think there will be a plea deal?

HOSTIN: I think that she's probably trying to get the death penalty off the table. I think the government is going to seek the death penalty in a case like this. So, that's sort of what she's probably trying to do right now. Get that death penalty off the table and perhaps plead guilty to life in prison.

COOPER: Ted, it's interesting, the judge at this point is from California, brought in because all the federal judges in Arizona recused themselves because of the murder of Chief Judge John Roll. Is there any sense whether an actual trial would be held in Arizona?

ROWLANDS: Yes, well, at this point it came up today a little bit in terms of the change or venue, there's a sort of an early change. We're in Phoenix today because right away, in Tucson after the shooting rampage, every judge in Tucson said I'm not going to hear his first court appearance.

So, a judge in Phoenix heard that first one a couple weeks ago, then he recused himself as did all of the federal judges in the state of Arizona. So they brought in a judge from San Diego starting next hearing which is scheduled for march 9th, it's going to go back to Tucson with this judge on the bench.

Loughner's attorney, Judy Clark, says she had no problem with that, going back to Tucson, so actually they're getting closer to the crime scene, not further away. Now, when a trial date is set will the defense go for a change in venue motion? Absolutely possible. And if that happens, it could leave the state of Arizona, possibly going to California or Nevada.

COOPER: All right. Ted, appreciate the reporting; Sunny Hostin as well. Thanks

Well, you may not know this, but an estimated 1.5 million students are home schooled in America. In tonight's "Perry's Principles", you're going to meet one of them who's considered a whiz kid. He wants to graduate college at the age of 16.

Here's our education contributor Steve Perry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Like any typical teen, Stephen Stafford loves video games. But unlike his peers, this 14- year-old is a sophomore at Atlanta's Morehouse College.

Morehouse man?

STEPHEN STAFFORD, SOPHOMORE AT MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: Teenager?

PERRY: What is it like to be a Morehouse teenager?

STAFFORD: I've been doing this for a while now so it seems like (INAUDIBLE) for me normal. It's not that big of a deal.

PERRY: Well Stephen and his sister Martinique were home schooled by their mom when they showed early promise.

STAFFORD: When I was in kindergarten, she had me reading second and third grade books. I was doing multiplication and division when I was in kindergarten.

PERRY: What you would do is you -- on some level accelerated your children's learning by not stopping.

MICHELLE BROWN STAFFORD, STEPHEN'S MOTHER: Exactly. You have to be resourceful. It's just no way -- I mean because you become the teacher, the administrator; I mean you just really have to pull the resources together. You have to invest time in doing that.

STEPHEN STAFFORD, STEPHEN'S FATHER: If you're not actively participating in their education in school, they're not going to succeed.

PERRY: You have been straddling this world of being a kid and being an adult. How do you feel about being in that world?

STAFFORD: When I was 7 years old I used to always hang out with 15, 16-year-olds. I'm used to people being older than I am and taller than I am. When I hang out with kids my age, I can socialize with them, so it's -- I think it's pretty cool to be able to go back and forth with that. PERRY: There's a social life that we expect when we're in college. There's boys and there's girls; there's dreaming about your careers and families. What do you think about when you're in school?

STAFFORD: I think about getting the work done so I can come home and play.

PERRY: What about those critics who say that you're just pushing your kids too hard, let them be a kid?

M. STAFFORD: We acknowledge that we have to develop the whole child, ok. But a lot of times parents tend to focus more on the socialization than the intellectual. We let them grow at their own pace emotionally.

PERRY: When you're in school, are the students there still caught up in the fact that you're four to ten years younger than them?

STAFFORD: Maybe the first day the class starts, but probably by the third or fourth day they really just calm down and get used to it.

PERRY: Do they recognize that you might be able to help them with their homework?

STAFFORD: They ask me for help a lot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It seems like the Staffords are certainly very focused on helping their kids. What do you think the best way for parents to support kids is?

PERRY: Parents have to leave all options open. They can't just depend on the school system sometimes. In fact, the Staffords understood that their child was special and they were not going to allow anybody to stop them from pulling a child's gifts out. So they home schooled.

COOPER: Steve Perry thanks.

PERRY: Thank you.

COOPER: Don't mess with my "Mad Men"; Season Five of the brilliant series is going nowhere fast, frankly, I'm inconsolable about it. So we're putting the people responsible on tonight's RidicuList. Bring back "Mad Men".

Plus new information tonight about where Keith Olbermann may show up next and the real story behind is abrupt exit from MSNBC. Was it as sudden as it seemed? We'll talk to Bill Carter of "The New York Times".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Keith Olbermann's sudden exit from MSNBC caught many people by surprise. Viewers tuned in on Friday, most of them didn't expect to hear this. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEITH OLBERMANN, FORMER MSNBC HOST: When I resigned from ESPN 13.5 years ago, I was literally given 30 seconds to say good-bye at the very end of my last edition of Sports Center.

I'm grateful I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless, this is the last edition of "Countdown".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, tonight new information on why and how the anchor of MSNBC parted ways and where Olbermann might turn up next. Joining me now by phone, Bill Carter, television reporter of the "New York Times"; and here with me in the studio, Colby Hall, managing editor for mediaite.com.

Appreciate both of you being with us.

Bill, you've been on this from the beginning. You reported that MSNBC has been preparing for an exit by Olbermann for months. What can you tell us about it?

BILL CARTER, TELEVISION REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES" (via telephone): Well I think it's obvious that the timing was a factor here. They just decided that it wasn't working out for either side. He had brought in new agents -- I think Keith had a plan. I think it's obvious from his actions and his comments now, that, you know, there's a plan in place.

These guys think there's going to be another outlet for him as soon as the ending of his contract is settled. He has a period of six, nine months, something like that where he won't be able to work on TV. But I think there will be a move for him to make at the end of that.

COOPER: Colby, for a lot of people who don't follow this as minutely as folks in the media do, what wasn't working out? I mean by all -- to people that tune in -- they had high ratings. It was the most successful show at MSNBC. He really defined that network. What wasn't working out?

COLBY HALL, MANAGING EDITOR, MEDIAITE.COM: Well, I think the telling moment, sort of the coup de grace was the suspension last fall. We wrote at the time in Mediaite that that was his waterloo. And it was, but in a different sort of way.

What seems to be clear is that the relationship that he had with his management, and not just the management, but also his cohorts and the people who work for him had become untenable. So, it seems like since fall when he was suspended, there was a process in motion where office politics weren't working and he fell victim -- he fell on the wrong side of office politics.

COOPER: He sent out his first real tweets today. And I just want to show you some of them. One says, "Citizens of the free world, greetings. My humble thanks to all friends of Keith for many the kind words; the reports of the death of my career are greatly exaggerated."

Bill is that his way of saying he's not going to go gentle into that good night even though it seems like he can't talk directly about what happened?

CARTER: Exactly. And I think anybody who thinks Keith Olbermann's going gentle anywhere, doesn't know Keith Olbermann. I think he's sending a signal here that he has a plan in place, and that people who are his fans should just wait. Wait it out, and he's going to come back. He's going to come back in some form, on the Internet, on the radio, and I think he'll be on TV again. Why wouldn't he? He was very successful.

COOPER: I talked to one person who knows him pretty well. He said he believed that he wanted to do something like the Huffington Post, some sort of online presence. Bill, have you heard that? Do you think that's true?

CARTER: Yes, I think that's definitely true because he's allowed to do that right away. I'm sure he will be doing that in the shorter term. NBC won't be able to prevent that. but in the longer term, he'll get TV offers, I guarantee.

COOPER: Bill -- I mean Colby, with the name -- the name recognition he has, the following he has, I mean, he could set up a liberal blog that would have a guaranteed audience base?

HALL: There's no question, he's got a very loyal following. And as David Shuster said on this network on Sunday, he was very touched and moved by the response he had when he was suspended where 250,000 people had signed a petition. So it would stand to reason that he would see this as an opportunity to build up his own sort of cult (ph) of personality and develop his own presence on line.

COOPER: Bill, both Comcast and NBC denied that their merger had anything to do with Olbermann's departure. Do you buy that? I mean because I had heard even last summer, from folks in the industry saying Comcast is not going to put up with this.

CARTER: Everybody agreed that Comcast would be very unlikely to put up with Keith's behavior, let's say, and his prima donna activities. I don't think it was politically motivated. But I think it was their intention or desire that this get settled before they took over.

Because they knew, once this happens, six months down the road if there was a blow up with Keith like there was over the donation, and they couldn't tolerate it and forced him out, it would look like a political move. And they didn't want that. They wanted it to be resolved ahead of time. NBC moved to get that done. They got it done right before Comcast took over.

HALL: I don't think it's fair to say exactly that Comcast was responsible for this. Sometimes I think as Bill said, there's nothing that -- that's exactly what they don't want. I think it's more correct to say that the executives at NBC news are getting new owners, and the rules and standards that applied under Jeff Zucker at NBC Universal, under GE no longer apply. And they didn't want to have one more headache while they're trying to figure out what makes their new bosses tick.

COOPER: It's fascinating stuff. Colby, I appreciate it. We'll continue to watch. Bill -- Bill Carter, appreciate the reporting. Thanks, Bill.

Another round in the feud between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien; one Ivy league club named one of the men "Man of the Year". We'll tell you why and who.

You may want to grab that martini before you hear about the latest addition to our RidicuList. I'm fired up at the people behind "Mad Men" because it may not be coming back anytime soon. I'll explain that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A lot more stories we're following tonight, Isha Sesay joins us again with a "360 News Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Dow is closing in on the 12,000 mark, a level it hasn't seen in two and a half years. Blue chips adding 109 points today to close at 11,980.

Knives (INAUDIBLE) are being retested in the Amanda Knox trial; Knox is an American college student who was convicted in 2009 of killing her roommate in Italy. She was sentenced to 26 years in prison but she insists she's not guilty. Knox is appealing the conviction.

Across the northeast, bitter cold to tell you about. In New York's East Village, a car got covered in ice after an apparent water main break. Temps at 6 degrees below zero in New York this morning and 35 below in New Hampshire; but temperatures are expected to warm up tomorrow ahead of another winter storm later in the week.

And Anderson, Jay Leno will be honored as Hasty Pudding's Man of the Year at Harvard University next month. According to the legendary theatrical group, the award is given to performers who have made a lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.

I'm wondering what Harvard alum Conan O'Brien has to say about this? Something along the lines of he can take his hasty pudding pot and --

COOPER: We'll leave it at that.

So, do you watch "Mad Men"?

SESAY: I'm ashamed to say I haven't seen it. I know, I'm going --

COOPER: What?

SESAY: I know. But I know all about this, so go on.

COOPER: I should have asked you this question before you got this job. Had I known you didn't watch "Mad Men" -- SESAY: Was that a deal breaker?

COOPER: I'm not sure you would have gotten this job.

What?

SESAY: Was that a deal breaker?

COOPER: Yes, it could have been. But no, it's all right, I'll give you the DVD's, you can catch up.

SESAY: Ok. Perfect.

COOPER: All right.

SESAY: Thanks for my Christmas gift.

COOPER: Time now for the RidicuList; it's all about "Mad Men". Tonight the honor goes to AMC and Lion's Gate companies; they're behind "Mad Men", because they're doing nothing short of robbing the world of a timely return of "Mad Men" why they apparently squabble over money.

Now, look, I love AMC, they have another favorite show of mine, "Breaking Bad". But they also have "Mad Men". AMC has promised us a fifth season. That's right, they promised. The show's creator says he's dying to get back to work, but get this, his contract expired he still doesn't have a deal because the network is still working things out with Lion's Gate which apparently produces the show.

Come on, already. This is ridiculous. How long are we going to have wait for the smoke-filled martini-soaked perfection that is "Mad Men".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Calveigh (ph) and I are getting married. I know it's a surprise, but she makes me very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, let's get her in here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How exciting for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. I can't believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been going on a while.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's very beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know she reminds me of you? She has the same spark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Oh, "Mad Men". So, Matthew Weiner -- that's the creator -- said this to "Entertainment Weekly". Quote, "The truth is, I don't even know what their plans are." He's talking about the companies. "We have not started writing, everyone wants a piece of it now, and they're fighting over who's going to get the biggest chunk. It would be heartbreaking for me if they don't work it out. Horrifying really. It would be a shame for fans if they never get a chance to see what great stuff we have planned for Don and company."

Heartbreaking, horrifying, a shame? Look, he's the writer so I hate to quibble about his word choice but I think it's underestimating the gravity of this situation.

I'm going to go on record here, it would be holding America hostage if this show doesn't come back for its fifth season. I said it. The creators are ready to rock; this is all because the producers and the network can't work it out? Give me a break.

Speaking of which, "Gimme a break" managed to stay on the air for six years without any problems. "Balky" in "Perfect Strangers", he managed to get hurled into our living rooms with no delay for eight seasons. Yes, remember "Balky". Don't even get me started on "Married with Children" that thing still seems to be on the air on some network.

Sure. Look, "Married with Children is no "Mad Men". Let's be honest, no one was fighting over who got a bigger piece of the perfect stranger's pie. But look at the Simpsons, that's a great show with great writing, still chugging along just fine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE SIMPSONS")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: See, "Mad Men" is everywhere, and it should be. Specifically it should be on TV soon. Some of the blogs are already saying we may have to wait until 2012 for a new season. 2012? I cannot wait a whole year to find out if Don Draper is really going to marry that secretary of his. What happens with Joan and the baby, whether Faye will spill all of don's secrets?

And what about Roger Sterling? Look, I have a soft spot for skinny gray-haired people. There's not a lot of work for folks like us, we need to stick together. AMC, Lion's Gate, I'm serious, this is a big problem. So take a cue from SNL and just fix it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I wake up tomorrow morning, it better be fixed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we go about fixing specifically?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take it one step at a time. Identify the problem, fix it. Identify another problem, fix it. Repeat as necessary until it's all fixed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Look, I mean it, AMC and Lion's Gate, fix it. Play nice, work it out. Do whatever you have to do, just give us back our "Mad Men" and have a drink on us on the RidicuList.

Hey, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That's it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"PIERS MORGAN" starts now.

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