tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN October 20, 2011 2:00am-3:00am EDT
and hey-o, if it's working for harry belafonte, 84 years young and still going strong, i say more power to him. so what if he missed one interview? if nothing else, it makes a great bedtime story for the "riduculist." that's it for "360." thanks for watching. "erin burnett out front" starts "erin burnett out front" starts now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com we're on the front line in zanesville, ohio, 49 exotic animals shot and killed today. why it happened and why it could happen again. then, your advertising could land in front of 2 million people. we can't resist telling you about spirit airlines big idea. and the bottom line on rick perry's flat tax proposal? is it an idea whose time has come or an idea that smells bad? let's go "outfront." hello, everyone. i'm erin burnett. "outfront," taxes, presidential candidate rick perry on the heels of last night's presidential debate, proposing a flat tax.
>> scrapping the 3 million words of the current tax code starting over with something simpler. a flat tax. >> a flat tax has one big problem. if you tax everyone at the same rate, people who make less get hit harder and pay more than the current system. the flat tax was popularized by ste forbes during his two presidential runs, but he actually exempted families of four making less than $36,000. bold ideas are something we challenge on this show for a better america. let's see whether the flat tax is bold and smart or bold and bad. jim bianco is president of bianco researchers. you took the time to run the numbers and make sense of it. bottom line, instead of the politics of it, if you exempt people earning under a certain amount, what's the magic rate for everyone else to raise the same amount of revenue under a flat tax as we do right now? >> if you exempt everybody under $36,000, you will exclude 38 or 39% of all taxpayers.
61, 62% of all taxpayers would pay, a little bit more than currently pay. the rate that would be about revenue neutral about now is about 19%. that's a little elevated because the government has been spending more money in the last few years than it has historically. the 17% proposal that governor perry and steve forbes have proposed is probably more in line with the current amount. >> you're saying people would remain taxed as they are right now, 15? >> that's correct. those are separate taxes and separate issues. >> how many other countries have tried flat taxes? a few years ago, this seemed like a bold new idea. it is not anymore. a lot of people have tried it. >> yeah, there's about 22, 23 countries have a flat tax. a lot of them are in the former soviet union.
russia is probably the biggest economy right now that currently has a flat tax. they've had it since 2001. >> all right. and if we went flat, or mostly flat, flat on income and keep capital gains where they are, what would it mean to america? it's a pretty big hit, isn't it? >> yeah. as far as the americans go, it would be a boon for the american public. they spend about 7 billion hours a year calculating their taxes. and if you go to a flat tax, it could be a very simple process. january is the football playoff season. you can probably do it during a halftime one of the football games, calculate your taxes and you're done with it. we wouldn't have to spend all the money on accountants or hours figuring out the complexity of tax code and put our money into investments that make no economic sense but there to avoid taxes. >> we lost all those jobs and hopefully they can find something more productive to do. and we can always make fun of accountants and lawyers. thanks so much. appreciate it, jim. there's the bottom line in terms of math and numbers. a flat tax has always had some popular appeal. it is simple and by some accounts, more fair although
that's where the debate comes in. john avalon, senior columnist for the daily beast and ed rollins, former campaign manager for michele bachmann and james carville. what an honor to have you all there here together. >> three musketeers we have here. >> the old man and the kid. i will take it. >> we talk so much about these independents up for grabs in this election. independents, will they go for flat tax? >> the last time they polled, 37% compared to what? the current system only gets 19%. this could make inroads. independents do have an affinity for tax simplification, this is simpler and considered more to the right. this will help perry a lot with the base, the real play. big idea, he's backing this flat tax because his campaign was flat-lining. >> he needs to come out with something. what do you think? >> a smart political move.
his idea will never fly once somebody does the first distribution table. my question is why can't we do 15, 25, 35% tax? you could have a progressive simple tax, if you had to. >> get rid of the loopholes. >> get rid of everything and have 15% on $25, 50,000 and have a progressive tax. forget that for the moment. i think perry did the smart thing for perry to do. the republican base loves it because it clobbers the poor and middle class and nothing that will make you more popular. >> it is possible. to james' point, it gets complicated. if you do exempt people under a certain amount, you do deal with that regressivity. >> it wasn't just republicans that talked about it initially, senator bradley and majority leader senator gephardt who had a bradley-gephardt proposal. in 1984 when i was running reagan's campaign, we would put a line in to study tax reform.
we came back, tried to do a flat tax, couldn't quite do it and came back with what you talked about. the best and most articulate guy to sell this was steve forbes, who is now an advisor for perry, ran for president twice, is a very articulate guy and could never sell it. i think at the end of the day, it would be a tough sell. >> he tried. >> he bet the whole campaign on it. i don't think steve forbes' campaign failed because of the flat tax. i think it's a bold idea and fiscal conservatives will reinforce the support. it originated with the hoover institution. a lot of credibility there. it has a real chance to shift the debate. maybe it's an opening bid to broader tax reform. people want to see tax simplification right now. this is not a crazy idea. >> people want tax reform, they
want simplification. they want action. >> i think the flat tax is the craziest thing -- because state taxes are horrifically regressive. the only regressive tax we have in this country is the federal tax. if you want a regressive -- tax, i'm fine with that. going back to the politics for a moment, only two people have any chance of being a nominee. that's perry and romney. perry was stuck not in neutral, he was stuck in reverse. last night, consensus seems to be that he helped himself a little bit. he has an energy plan. now, he has a contrast at romney. it will be popular with a lot of people in the republican party. i think politically, this is a smart thing for rick perry to do. i think it's a cockamamie idea but smart. >> i agree because it puts 9-9-9 to bed and there was another person on that stage that supports 9-9-9. perry has to get cain's vote back again. he has to pull from the voters
that shifted from him to cain. >> credit to cain for creating the opening bid. he started putting the bid out there, move the debate back to policy and perry is trying to trump it with a flat tax. a good move in the right direction. >> cain was one guy with one idea, no money, went pretty far with it. >> right. obviously appears to be the sales tax issue, one of the big problems with 9-9-9. >> there is another political movement. the fair tax, the backbone of much of mike huckabee's and you gobble it all up, state, everything, all comes out with one number. there's a lot of people out there that have bought into that. >> the flat tax is probably fairer than the fair tax at the end of the day. i'll take that to the mat. >> there's a counterpoint. >> sales tax is really
regressive. >> will it exempt the home mortgage deduction, charitable deduction, state and local finance? >> you're only taking out a few pages of the many thousands of pages. >> right. >> thank you very much. loopholes, i think we can all agree. >> you brought all this political firepower to discuss tax policy. >> i think it's a good point. >> i think there's one thing you all agree on, you all think you pay too much tax. >> absolutely. >> not me. i agree with taxes we buy civilization. we're spending 24% of gdp on government, 18, whatever it is on taxes. >> 18 1/2. >> that's not enough. but i'm not running for anything. >> more money for defense. >> it's a great segue because civilization began in greece, a place where they do not pay their taxes anymore which is a big part of the reason the country is failing. an estimated 70,000 greeks took to the streets today to protest more cuts. what it means for greece and eu. and then virginia governor bob mcdonald talked about as running for vice president. we hope you're in good spirits,
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the number tonight, 437,675. that is how many fewer greeks flew domestically this time last year. and people earn less money because of austerity, part of the big problem in greece. productivity in greece is low because many go on strike. some say it's a national sport, and striking even when times are good. people took to the streets to protest another round of cuts. the government is proposing to prevent default. those are wage cuts, pension cuts, tax increases and layoffs. the sterity measures could be necessary to secure additional aid from the imf and eu. it is necessary. le greek parliament is scheduled to vote on the plan tomorrow.
tyler, you spent a lot of time in greece and covering this issue for europe as well. the world has been led to believe greece is so important to the global economy, important to europe and therefore important to the united states because europe is our biggest trading partner. you look at greece, only 2% of the eu economy. can we afford for greece to fail? >> the key issue is greece is still a powerful brand. no matter how small the contribution, greece is with us for millenia, part of the issue. you have a very strong brand. that's part of the issue. people want greece to succeed because of what it's meant for centuries. >> you think greece can turn it around? >> no. i didn't say that. i'm not convinced greece can turn it around. you only have to look back decades or generation.
this is not a new problem. greece has not been in great shape a long time. this isn't something that's been with us three weeks or three months or three years. part of the reason i'm not convinced, we have to look to paris or berlin for answers. something has to happen within athens, happen within the board rooms and corporate level. that is also a road map or recipe that has also been devised at home. we're not seeing that right now. that sense of what is greece going to become? are you going to become the most important tourist destination in europe? how will you get yourself out of it in a homemade well? >> we know it's an absolutely gorgeous country. they could capitalize on that more if they chose to. do you think if greece fails, it's become a given in the financial markets, we can't afford for that to happen. can we? if greece were to fail, leave the euro, would we be okay? >> i think we would be okay. it is a bigger issue, what does it mean for not just the eu, really talking about brand europe.
that's what's really at the heart of all of this. if this system allows it to fail, where does it leave everybody else? as you talk about the major trading relationship the u.s. has, not to mention many other major players within the g8, that is a key element. there's a lot of discussion right now about potentially what happens at some point after christmas potentially, we get into the new year, a lot of discussion, speak to a lot of people at think tanks in london and berlin and a lot of people saying we might have to cut them adrift. >> we will see what happens and whether we can get through it. thank you, tyler. here in the u.s., the president is not pushing austerity. the economy is his biggest problem. today, he wrapped up the jobs bus tour trying to get the economy going again. the polls are painful. when polled against a generic republican, the president loses
38-46%. what's interesting, you run the president against specific individuals, mitt romney, the two are statistically even, which means the race is tight. the vp choice on the republican side could make the difference. one man to consider, bob mcdonnell from virginia, met with the president on the jobs tour with us now. thanks for taking the time, sir. >> thanks, erin. congratulations on the new show. >> thank you, from your neighboring state of maryland. i wanted to start off by asking you, first of all, rick perry came out today with his flat tax. you know him and met with governor romney as well. what do you think of this flat tax idea? i think it's got some merit. i think everybody's agreed the complexities of the irs code are beyond the reach of the average american citizen and we have to make it more understandable and
simple and more fair. that's one approach. what we need more than that right now is an honest conversation with the american people about cutting spending, living within our means and getting out of debt. that's the issue with the campaign and cutting jobs. -- creating jobs >> you met with the president today and veterans and his jobs bill. your unemployment in virginia is pretty good. the number i saw, 6.3%, nearly 3 percentage points below the national. you benefit from federal jobs and stimulus as well. are you grate to have the president for the stimulus plan so far that has preserved some jobs in virginia? >> for every state, it was short-term help. that money is now gone and we're looking to see what we can do to sustain a healthy economy. even with that short-term infusion of cash, we cut billions of dollars out for education and health care and made tough choices and set priorities.
we had 4 and $500 million surpluses in the last year. we need the same kind of guts and leadership in washington to say, we're broke, we can't afford this anymore and we need to talk about job creation and energy development and more access to the american dream. we have to stop spending. we can't afford it anymore. >> what do you think about the vp ticket. there's a market that handicaps the odds, you're on the list and marco rubio and chris christie, top choices. is there any candidate you would say, i don't want to be on their ticket? >> that's speculation, i'll let you experts talk about it. we have eight great potential candidates. i'm partial to having a governor or businessman, somebody who had to balance a budget and make a bottom line, has to get things done on time, can't make excuses. i think that's what we're lacking. i'm partial to governors but any one will do a great job on two issues to affect america, how do
we get our economy stimulated again and get entrepreneurs doing what they do best and how do we get the greatest country on earth more fiscally responsible and solvent. that's what this whole campaign is about next year and i think a lot of candidates could do that. >> thanks. he's a little partial to governors. he's a governor himself. what do you expect? spirit airlines takes flight. we cannot resist telling you about this one. a disturbing story, you may have heard about the dozens of animals shot and killed in ohio today. it's an incident that some say could have been avoided. and new details about the french baby. i'd race down that hill without a helmet.
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now, a story we can't resist. now, the airline industry is in trouble. american airlines reportedly facing bankruptcy and ryne airlines thought about charging for the use of the toilet. spirit airlines found a creative way to combat their problem. they're selling ad space on and in their plane and put together a menu for potential advertisers. you can get your ad on all these. overhead bins, $196,000. tray tables, $119,000. flight attendants, only the aprons, $19,000. air sickness bags, 18,000, and
styrofoam cups, $16,000. what do you get for that? you get three months of ads on every spirit plane. for a larger amount, you can get your ad wrapped all the way around the plane. no word whether any has done an ad. we couldn't resist this ad of our own. this for levi's 401 jeans. this for victoria's secret. and, of course, this for botox. you're probably wondering if "outfront" will be advertising with spirit since we got into the spirit of things. we won't. that's because we're waiting for another company to offer ad space to us. we just couldn't resist. "outfront" next, dozens of exotic animals were shot and
killed, an avoidable tragedy. we'll tell you why and what needs to be done so it doesn't happen again. and police and the missing baby lisa. a family member comes out front tonight to tell us what he thinks might have happened to the missing 11-month-old baby. and satirist andy borowitz is here to tell us what he thinks about the 15,000 american writers and the republican candidates.
we start the second half of our show with stories we care about, focus on our own reporting and do the work. the out front five. rick perry revealed he will propose a flat tax as part of his economic plan. the texas governor says details will come out next week. jim bianco from our strike team told us if governor perry wanted a flat tax that brings in the same amount of money our current system does, the rate would have to be around 19-20%. and you could exempt anyone who made under $36,000 for a family of four. number two, anti-depressant use in america has skyrocketed. 1 out of every 10 americans is now taking an anti-depressant. it's an incredible spike, according to centers for disease control. but "outfront" asked our team to break down the numbers. the numbers may seem large but only a third of people with severe depression take
antidepressants. more needs to be done so the people who really need those drugs are actually on them. number three, the fed released its beige book report today. it gives us an up-to-the-minute look at the economy across the country. overall, the take away is the economy is growing modestly but still growing, an important thing and outlook weaker and did have an effect on stocks mid-afternoon. all major markets closed lower, dow down 72. number four, new home construction, 15% in september, the highest jump in 17 months. that sounds fantastic, but overall, the housing market recovering slowly and at a much slower pace than expected. we spoke to some analysts who expected housing numbers to drop off this surge we just saw. they say look at new construction permits. that will give you a sense of where we will be in a few months. they're at a five-month low. it has been 75 days since the u.s. lost its top credit rating.
what are we doing to get it back? there are new details on the wild animals set loose in ohio. all but one captured or killed. we have a photo of the dead animals. we warn you the image may be disturbing. it shows at least a dozen dead animals, mostly bears and tigers. a single monkey remains at large after an estimated 56 animals escaped from a game preserve in zanesville, ohio, tuesday night. school children were forced to stay home today as police launched a frantic search for the big game, including wolves, lions and tigers. they escaped after 62-year-old gamekeeper, terry thompson pried open their doors before committing suicide. six were transported to the zoo in columbia, ohio, another 49 were shot and killed. that included two wolves, six black bears, two grizzlies, a mountain bear, baboon and 17 lions and 18 tigers. sheriff, you said the killing of
all these animals was senseless. why did you make the decision to shoot to kill? why not use tranquilizers? >> none of our cruisers are equipped with tranquilizer guns. we have approximately 31 to 32 primary response cars for muskingum county. none of those are equipped with tranquilizer guns. we're not equipped to deal with 300-pound bengal tigers or black bears. if we get a stray out of the woods and can contain it, we can call people to tranquilize that. one of the biggest hurdles was nightfall. we had about an hour to hour and a half until daylight. we made the decision -- i made the decision, public safety was our number one concern. >> terry thompson, the gamekeeper found dead, apparently committed suicide, freed the animals before he did so, was convicted of cruelty to animals back in 2005.
do you know why he was allowed to continue to have these animals, why he had any park at all, never mind one with 56 wild animals? >> i have no idea. >> there were some other animals you had mentioned last time when you were there visiting, giraffes, camels. do you have any sense whether they were there? how sure are you when you say 56, that's really the full count? >> we're pretty sure of ourselves with that. that count was based on the two farm hands that worked there with the animals, fed the animals on a daily basis. went there to assist mr. thompson with the animal care. the list that we developed was made by them. as we recovered the animals, we were making a list to compare to that. >> where did some of your force find the animals? i know you said they didn't have
very much time. where had they all gone? were they all near the park? were they somewhere else? what was the furthest you found one? >> mr. thompson's house and pens are about 500 yards off the road. these animals were down near the road. some of them were outside the livestock fence he has up. some were inside the livestock fence making their way towards the road. we had animals killed approximately 500 yards towards the interstate, trying to get to the interstate, and we also had animals killed, approximately 500 yards southeast of the house. >> it's sad. i understand the position you were in. it's still a distressing story. i wanted to ask you about one animal still unaccounted for, a monkey. jack hanna suggested it may have been eaten by one of the tigers. are you still looking for the monkey? >> we told our public -- we have one unaccounted for and told them to watch for anything they might see. we have no reports coming in to
us, it is possible the monkey was eaten by one of the lions, because we had another monkey killed by one of the lions. >> sheriff lutz, thanks for taking the time. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> so, big game is a big business in the united states. the humane society estimates there are between 5 and 7,000 tigers in private hands in the united states. that's stunning. and 15,000 primates owned by individuals. and yet there are few regulations in place to protect the public or animals from the tragedy in ohio today. adam roberts is executive vice president of born for usa and joining us, a man who knew terry thompson, the man who let the animals loose and owner of tiger ridge exotic. kenny, i want to start with you since you knew terry and dealt with him before. what do you think caused him to do this?
>> i believe it was a number of things. he was under stress because of his marriage. he recently got released from prison, and what his thoughts were before he released these animals, nobody will ever know. it had to be some kind of depression. >> it really is tragic, especially as you just heard from the sheriff saying the animals were all found very close to the preserve, kind of clumped together. i'm curious about terry thompson, apparently was convicted of animal cruelty six years ago. why was he allow after that to own these animals in this first place? >> that's a good question. one thing, he didn't have the usda license. he wasn't a -- he didn't have the usda permit that's usually required. i understand his license was turned in or taken from him in 1999. he spent some time in prison for some kind of gun violation. but he still had all these
animals, plus a petting zoo. he didn't have the license so he more or less -- he wasn't under the control of anybody. >> adam roberts, how could this happen? how common is this? it does seem there's a real lack of clarity about how many sorts of businesses there are. >> it's a tragedy, one of the big problems. we're all scratching our heads thinking how it can happen. i have to be brutal. the ohio legislature or governor and people who make the laws in the state didn't crack down when they had the opportunity to prevent this from happening in the first place. ohio is one of the worst states in the country, both in terms of number of exotic animals escaping or attacking people and one that lacks legislation. clearly, this should have been addressed years ago and hope this will be the trigger that causes action at the state level.
>> how many people -- how many animals. you're talking 5 to 7,000 tigers in private hands. it does seem this has become, for individuals, a lot of these exotic animals are now pets. i would imagine that is not something that's ever safe. >> not at all. at born for usa, we believe wildlife belongs in this wild. a simple mantra. the tiger cub and the monkeys seem cute at first but don't belong with people. the best thing to do is leave the wildlife in the wild and let the experts take care of animals, such as the ones at this person's house and give them a life worth living. born for usa is in texas where we rescue primates, including from the pet trade and we let them live out their lives in as natural a way we can provide. that sort of accredited sanctuary is where they should be. >> can you make the case why you
do this? why you have these animals? why you think it makes sense? >> i did it for a long time. i did it for 38 years. i've had tigers, lions, bears, leopards, jaguars, i had all the big cats. i can say i've never had an escape. nobody's ever been hurt. i always had the usda license and i abide by their rules. on this thing in zanesville, i'd like to clarify one thing. this wasn't an escape. none of these animals escaped. the man unlocked the doors and let them go. it's not -- it's not something that was in violation of any kind of a law. he could have had 10 usda license and it would have still been the same results. this was purposely done. >> thank you very much both for joining us with your perspectives. >> thank you. still "outfront" tonight, president of france, nicolas
sarkozy and his wife welcome a bundle of joy. "outfront" for the lisa baby case, the police searched the family home looking for the 11-month-old infant. what did they find? and andy borowitz "outfront" to talk about silvio berlusconi. he made the cut. executor of efficiency. you can spot an amateur from a mile away... while going shoeless and metal-free in seconds. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above, and still pay the mid-size price. now this...will work. [ male announcer ] just like you, business pro. just like you. go national. go like a pro. is to dig right in. but as his dentist, i know that to do that,
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[will be giving away passafree copieselief. of the alcoholism & addiction cure. to get yours, go to ssagesmalibubook.com. we do this nearly the same time every night or as close as we can, our outer circle, where we reach to sources around the world. we begin in syria where 15 citizens and seven syrian army soldiers were killed today when fighting broke out with suspected army detectors. arwa damon is in syria tonight. arwa, what triggered this? >> reporter: well, erin, in recent weeks, we have been seeing violence concentrated in areas where defections have been taking place like this city. and we met a defector wounded managing to escape from syria to lebanon. he said he was exhausted and sick of so much indiscriminate random killing and said the free syrian army largely made up of
defectors had been carrying out operations against the syrian security forces so much of the crackdown we're seeing is specifically targeted towards hunting down those who have defected and those who may be sheltering them. >> thank you. now, to neighboring turkey where 24 soldiers were killed in an early morning attack by kurdish rebels inside iraq. it was a rocket attack. andrew finkel is live tonight. what can you tell us about this attack? >> reporter: we witnessed a well-planned and certainly brutally effective attack by the pkk, kurdish militants, on the turkish side of the iraqi border. the turkish army has responded in kind. there has been a hot pursuit operation inside the border and know there have been clashes inside turkey. the question is now whether the politicians can contain the situation which the militants have been trying to inflame. now to paris, where french
first lady carla bruni sarkozy just gave birth. erin mclaughlin is in paris. what can you tell us about the first lady's new baby? >> reporter: the first lady in france gave birth to a little girl tonight. both mother and daughter are doing just fine. we don't expect the palace to issue any official photographs of the little girl any time soon. the first lady has said she plans to be very protective of this child. nevertheless, the people in france are extremely excited about the birth, it is the first child to be born to the french president during the fifth republic. erin? >> a lot of people are curious to see.
for the second time in 16 days, police have searched the missouri home where 11-month-old lisa irwin disappeared. there is still no sign of the missing baby. investigators questioned the mother who admits she was drinking the night she disappeared and might have blacked out. she says she was there the night of the disappearance. she was going to join us but her lawyer will not be joining us. jill spellman has been covering the story from missouri, working the case. what can you tell us? they searched the home again today. do you have any idea why? >> reporter: supposedly not based on any new information but a desire to go back and do due diligence. they're about 10 hours in the search. still going in and out of the house. it began last night, issued a search warrant and two police cruisers arrived to stop the family from entering the home, that's part of the conditions of
this search warrant. and this morning, they arrived, at least a dozen people in white csi suits in and out of the house all day and a large team of people in the backyard using shovels and rakes to search an area behind a shed in the backyard. police won't tell us what they're looking for, but it's been a thorough intense search much different than previously. >> jim, was there any sign of the parents and their new attorney obviously intimately involved? >> reporter: the parents have been staying a couple miles away and this new attorney worked on the van der sloot case. he showed up yesterday, made a dramatic press conference in front of the home where they're staying and immediately flew back to new york to do network morning shows yesterday. we're not sure where he is now. it's the 11th day the family has refused to allow themselves to be interviewed by police. very antagonistic relationship there. police would love to interview them and use them as asset in searches.
>> any sense from anyone, the consternation why there is no sign of the child? certainly no body. they have checked everywhere they possibly could have checked. >> reporter: they searched everywhere. just adjacent to here is woods that goes on and on, at least a mile wide. we don't know how deep. we walked for a while. this is vast areas. the more you walk through the neighborhood, you see many ways that somebody could leave with a baby. so they have searched repeatedly. the local police, fbi, national guard over the weekend, still no baby lisa. >> jim, thank you very much. we appreciate it. jurors in the trial of the conrad murray trial watched a video of an actor pretending to be having a heart attack while being given propofol. doctor revived the pretend patient using equipment not available to conrad murray. the anesthesiologist explained to jurors how he safely administers the drug. the witness was crucial to the state's case as they try to prove that jackson's death was
because of dr. murray's gross negligence. new developments in the abuse case in philadelphia. a fourth suspect was arrested today in a case that involved four disabled people. four people, three women and a men were locked in the basement with no food and no toilet, just a bucket. their captors were collecting their social security checks. pat buchanan is out with a book called "superpower." embe on "outfront" tomorrow. who are you talking about because it sure can't be the united states. up next, andy burowitz has a little bit of fun with the gop field. we'll be right back.
this election season, things are so nasty that sometimes you need to smile at the ridiculousness of our candidates, even when they don't want to laugh at themselves. andy borowitz is the author of "the 50 funniest american writers." before we get to the book, skied him to play a free word association game. we begin with mitt romney. >> you'll throw out mitt romney,
as many republican voters seem to be doing as well. mitt romney, i don't think he should be president. i think he should be president in a vin diesel movie. >> where that does leave the man who he is in a dead heat with, mr. herman cain, 9-9-9. >> the 9-9-9 doesn't bother me. that sounds awesome. other numbers concerns me. he wants to be the president of the number one country in the world. he was running the number eight pizza chain in this country. and i think we should be getting someone from a top tier pizza chain, like papa john's pizza. >> what about rick perry? >> i like him. he had this dispute with herman cain. you probably heard herman cain said something about building an electrified fence. rick perry believes that there
are perfectly good people to electrocute right here in this country. so that's a little bit different. >> all right. on the democratic side, here's a pretty interesting thing. a serious stat before we get to the nonserious side. cnn poll, 81% want to renominate the president. 18% want another candidate to run instead. who would you nominate? >> george clooney. he was president of the movie "ides of march." he was excellent. he was sort of a liar but he was such a dreamboat. >> all right. so we have a couple of friends out there. sylvio berlusconi and vladimir putin. >> these are your friends? you have got to get out more, erin. >> what do you think about our sflensd -- our friends? >> well, i love them both. berlusconi is starting this movement called "occupy my
pants," and i think that's really going to take off. >> this book, "the 50 funniest american writers." how did you make the list? it does go back to the 1800s, mark twain. >> it was like putting together a playlist on your ipod. what are the 50 people that really make me laugh? there are some people that you have to have. you have to have mark twain, the onion, that is people that i love, like norah ephron, like bernie mac. >> what do they have in common? it's a best seller. >> what they have in common is they are not dated. mark twain is talking about politicians in a way that we can relate to now. he has a piece in there, he running for president and he says, before i run for president, i'm going to tell you all of the terrible things that i've done so the press doesn't