Ali, Mark and Gayle

It's open mic day at The Oprah Show! Oprah and her panel of opinionated friends are tackling all the hottest topics—from politics and the economic crisis to pop culture and movie premieres!

In May 2008, Ali Wentworth, Mark Consuelos and Gayle King teamed up with Oprah for the first time. Although Oprah says she couldn't get a word in edgewise during that show, she couldn't wait to do it again!

Ali may be an actress by trade, but at her core, she says she's a mom of two who loves to make mac 'n' cheese and watch The Oprah Show. As the wife of ABC News political analyst George Stephanopoulos, Ali keeps up with the latest headlines...and isn't afraid to share her opinion.

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As a star on All My Children, Mark has made women swoon, but make no mistake—he's a man's man. For the past 12 years, he's learned a thing or two about opinionated women from his wife, talk show host Kelly Ripa. Together, these television stars juggle busy careers and three young children, Michael, Lola and Joaquin.

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You may know Gayle as Oprah's best friend, but what you may not know is that she's also an XM Radio host, the editor-at-large of O, The Oprah Magazine, a mother of two and a self-admitted news junkie. "My background is TV news," she says. "That was and still is my passion. I'm really a TV baby—I love all things television."

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Ali, Mark, Gayle and Oprah

The topic dominating the headlines these days is the economic crisis that's driving home prices down, threatening jobs and causing the stock market to fluctuate wildly. Factor in the sudden collapse of Washington Mutual and a proposed government bailout that would cost more than $700 billion, it's no wonder Americans are worried.

"It's scary to see people walking out of their jobs carrying boxes, and people who caused this problem being in charge of fixing it and getting paid in the process," Gayle says. "There's something wrong with that."

Mark says the sticking point seems to be whether the men and women who ran these failing financial giants should receive their compensation packages. "Let them take the stapler and maybe a notepad," Ali says. "But that's it."

Oprah says she read that Alan Fishman, CEO of Washington Mutual, is eligible for his $11.6 million severance package and that he'll get to keep his $7.5 million signing bonus. "Get this," she says. "He's been on the job for less than three weeks."

Gayle says she's all for people being paid well...if their job performance meets expectations. "Whether you're an athlete, entertainer, talk show philanthropist, activist, whoever you are—I'm all for anybody getting paid big bucks as long as you're doing a good job," she says. "When your company is in this much trouble, you are not doing a good job, and you should not be compensated that way."
Suze Orman

On the September 23, 2008 episode of The Oprah Show, financial expert Suze Orman offered tough advice to a couple deep in debt and revealed how you can recession-proof your life. "Suze was a little fired up," Oprah says.

Suze also revealed three ways Americans can protect their hard-earned savings during an economic crisis. She says your cash should be kept in one of three places...and under the mattress is not an option. "Your cash should be in an FDIC-insured bank account," she says. "Your cash should be in treasury bills or bonds. There is no interest rate right now on a treasury bill, but at least it's safe and sound."

Your money is also protected in treasury money market accounts. "[These are] accounts that are backed by the United States Treasury," she says. "Those are the three places, and three places only that cash should be. ... This is no joke."

After hearing Suze's advice, Oprah says she decided to take action. "I went upstairs and I made a phone call," she says. "I called my bank. I called a lot of people, and [it's] treasury bills for me."

Ali says Suze's wake-up call makes her want to use her money to stock the shelves in her pantry. "My impulse is to go to Costco and buy a lot of stuff and store [in] a hurricane," she says. "If it gets really bad and somebody steals the money under my mattress, I want tuna and water, you know what I mean? Is that wrong?"

Oprah wasn't the only person inspired to take a long, hard look at her finances. Cyndy is Skyping™ in from Bend, Oregon, to reveal how Suze's advice prompted big changes in her life.

Like millions of Americans, Cyndy says she and her family are close to losing their home and have been dodging calls from their bank. When she heard Suze lay out the facts to a couple in a similar situation, she says it moved her into action. "We're going to start checking our options," she says. "Suze Orman really kind of cemented some of the things we've been told already."

Since the show, Cyndy says she's talked to her banker. "I hope the tough love helps you and you don't have to lose your home," Oprah says.
Gayle talks about the non-snub of Sarah Palin.

While talking about the upcoming presidential election might seem like an obvious topic for this panel, Oprah says it's not something she wants to talk about. "I declared back in May of last year that I was not going to use my show as a platform," she says. "I chose as a private citizen to speak out for the candidate of my choice, and made the decision that none of the candidates would be coming on the show."

Gayle says she often encounters critics who say Oprah has "snubbed" Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin by refusing to have her as a guest. "It was never a snub," Gayle says. "[Oprah] stated very clearly that once she made her statement [endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama], that no one would be on the show. And when people hear that and say, 'Well, she had Barack Obama on.' I go, 'That was before he declared himself to be a candidate.' People are not making that connection."

"I never snubbed Governor Palin because there never was a discussion about Governor Palin being on the show—there never was a discussion. There was some report on the Internet that said it happened. I said, 'That didn't happen. No, I will not be interviewing her on this show during the election because I'm not interviewing anybody during the election,'" Oprah says. "The week before, I had been asked to interview Michelle Obama ... and I said no for the same reason."

"I don't know, I heard that you were moose hunting in Russia with Sarah Palin and you had a whole conversation about it," Ali jokes.
Ali and Mark

In recent edition of USA Today, a headline grabbed the panel's attention: "Women rule the roost, and that's OK with men." According the article, in 43 percent of couples, women make almost twice as many household decisions as men.

Mark says his marriage with Kelly is an equal partnership...but the rest of the panel have their doubts. Gayle says she thinks women do the heavy lifting in deciding how houses function, and Ali says it has everything to do with who is working outside the home.

"Do you pick the laundry detergent?" Ali asks Mark.

"I don't want to pick the laundry detergent," Mark says.

"Who picks up the kids?" Gayle says.

"I drop off the kids," Mark says. "She picks up the kids."

"Who decides where you're going for the weekend?" Oprah asks.

"That is up for debate, usually," Marks says. "It depends what we're going to do, but I think we usually have the same routine.

"Who wears more makeup?" Ali jokes.

"Right now? Me!" Mark says.
Oprah thanks viewers for helping push the passage of the PROTECT Our Children Act.

On September 15, 2008, Oprah asked for your help in urging Congress to pass the PROTECT Our Children Act, to dramatically increase funding to fight Internet predators. Nearly a half-million people came to to make their voices heard...and it worked!

"Last night, in the midst of this economic crisis, Senate Bill 1738, the PROTECT Our Children Act, passed the Senate," Oprah says. "Thank you to the 60 senators—Republican and Democrat—who co-sponsored the bill. ... All of you proved that the people can really make a difference."
Ali and Mark

When marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman was recently on The Oprah Winfrey to talk about why men cheat, he stirred up such a controversy that he had to come back for a second show to further explain his message.

"The majority [of cheating men] say it's not about the sex," Gary said. "The majority said it was an emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling underappreciated. A lack of thoughtful gestures. ... Men look strong, look powerful and capable, but on the inside they're insecure like everybody else. They're searching and looking for somebody to build them up, to make them feel valued."

Being the only man on the panel, Mark is called on to give his guy's perspective.

"I want to know if it's Darwinistic," Ali asks him. "Is it in your DNA to just spread your seed through the land? And it's in our DNA to incubate for nine months?"

"It takes very little [to please men]," Mark says. "I was jogging with my wife the other day and we came to a stop sign, and she said, 'You know what?' And I go, 'What?' And she said, 'The way you run...' And I figure she was going to say I looked funny. She goes, '...really hot.' And I'm like, 'I'm good for a month!'"

"When you guys jog, are you like, 'You're hot.' 'You're hot.' 'No, you're hot.' 'No, you're hot,'" Ali jokes. "And all the people in the park are going, 'You guys are hot!'"
Gayle did not agree with Gary Neuman's advice

Like many viewers, Gayle did not agree with Gary's take on cheating. "I didn't like how he framed it, and maybe I'm supersensitive because of my history—I know this topic very well," she says. Gary made the point that men want to feel appreciated, but Gayle says women do too. "It's two people in a marriage; it's not just my responsibility," she says. "He has to have some responsibility too."

Gayle says she resents that Gary made it sound as if a man's infidelity is the woman's problem. "What if you do enough and you still get cheated on, which happens a lot?" she says. "You can do everything the right way and still get cheated on."
Mariah Carey isn't pregnant

Another hot topic circulating the news is a rumor about Mariah Carey—is she pregnant? "We called Mariah, she gave us the word—it's not true," Oprah says.
"Natalie" is auctioning off her virginity

A 22-year-old woman going by the name Natalie has been raising more than a few eyebrows because of the way she intends to pay for graduate school—by auctioning off her virginity. Since it is against the law to sell sex in most of the country, Natalie is going through a legal brothel in Nevada and says she is willing to undergo a physical exam to prove that she is a virgin. So far, the bidding is up to $1 million.

Natalie is on the phone to explain why she made this controversial decision. "I was conducting premature research for my upcoming thesis, and I really wanted to delve into a topic that's really been, in a sense, very untouched," she says. "I wanted to study the dichotomous nature between virginity and prostitution." She says the idea came to her after reading about a Peruvian woman who made $1.5 million after putting her virginity up for sale. "I decided not to just theoretically study this, but implement it practically into my own life," she says.

Although Natalie says her experiment started out as research, she does not deny that money plays a major role. "Absolutely, that is only one of my primary factors," she says. "I would love to use all this money to make some great investments, and who wouldn't want financial stability?"

Natalie says she is under no contractual obligations and will have a say in which—if any—person she chooses. "It's not set up like an eBay auction; I have complete control," she says.
Acclaimed director Spike Lee

Spike Lee has been making movies for more than 20 years, and Oprah says he has reached a new level with his latest project, Miracle at St. Anna. Set in 1944, the film follows the story of four black American soldiers who fought in Italy during World War II.

Gayle says she thinks this is Spike's best movie to date—a goal Spike says he is always striving for. "I could not have done this five years ago," he says. "I wasn't mature enough or had the skill level. But I believe things happen when they're supposed to happen, and this was a time to make this film now."

Spike says he grew up watching World War II films, but the story he really wanted to tell was of the black soldiers, like his two uncles. At the film's premiere, Spike says two Tuskegee airman and two Buffalo soldiers were introduced to the crowd and received a standing ovation. "Afterward, they said, 'Spike, thank you for doing this.' For me, that's the validation because these men were fighting for this country at a time when we were still considered second-class citizens. But despite that, they knew that one day things would be better."
Oprah asks viewers to see Miracle at St. Anna

Although Gayle isn't a fan of war movies, she says Miracle at St. Anna moved her because it's about much more than violence. "It's so layered," Gayle says. "You tell the story of war, but you tell many beautiful different stories in the middle of the movie, and I think it's so important for people to understand."

The entire audience got to see a sneak preview of the movie, and one audience member tells Spike that he wants to thank him for making the film. "I was deeply moved by the movie," he says. "Afterward, I called my dad and all my male mentors and thanked them because I realized that where I come from, every man that ever came before me, I stand on his shoulders to this day."

"I was moved to tears, I thought it was so compelling, so profound—go see Miracle at St. Anna," Oprah says.

Watch the conversation—and the laughs—continue after the show. Watch