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AMERICAN MORNING

Gay Adoption Controversy in Boston; Interview with Kenny Rogers

Aired March 22, 2006 - 09:33   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: A Catholic social services agency in Boston says no more adoptions to gay couples. At issue, more than 100 hard-to-place children. Now one couple, successful in adopting through Catholic charities in Boston is speaking out.
AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian has this story that you'll only see on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Jill Poirier and Deb Soly adopted three-year-old Joshua when he was 13 months old. Catholic Charities of Boston helped the same sex couple facilitate their dream.

DEB SOLY, MOTHER: We just felt like we were a couple looking for a child like any other couple and we had no problems.

LOTHIAN: But now the same catholic agency says the practice of placing children with gay couples, like Poirier and Soly, is wrong. And rather than bow to state laws on this issue, the agency is getting out of the adoption business altogether.

BRIAN HEHIR, CATHOLIC CHARITIES: Given the catholic teaching on marriage and family, it is judged to be inappropriate for catholic agencies to be facilitating adoptions to gay couples.

LOTHIAN: Poirier, a kindergarten teacher, and Soly, a cost analyst, are shocked and angered by the sudden reversal.

JILL POIRIER, MOTHER: And now you're saying that, you know, that these kids who are adopted into our family, that now we're not adequate, we're not good enough to raise them? I mean there's more children than they can place right now.

LOTHIAN: They fear this decision will end up hurting children like their son who has special needs and comes from a troubled past.

POIRIER: Pretty much what came out in my mind was, these kids have enough hurdles to overcome.

SOLY: Honestly, I mean, what's better for them, to be in a foster home where they're not -- have that loving relationship that we have with Joshua, or to find two parents, who cares if they're straight, gay or even single. LOTHIAN: The catholic charities program has been around for more than a hundred years. It has placed more than 700 children. Only 13 of those went into same sex homes. But recently there had been pressure from church leaders and a dilemma over gay adoptions which church officials say was in conflict with their faith and could not be resolved.

HEHIR: The religious moral principles of catholic teaching and practice clash with the political and civil regulations of the state.

LOTHIAN: Governor Mitt Romney has proposed a bill that would allow the agency to block gay adoptions while meeting the needs of heterosexual couples.

SOLY: It angers me . . .

LOTHIAN: But these women say that's only another attempt to discriminate against same sex couples who have so much to give.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: We should point out that the agency will cease all adoption cases by the end of June, but officials say that they will clear all placements by that deadline, so no one will be denied.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: Ever feel like it's just you against the IRS? Straight ahead, we'll talk to a woman who's paid by the government to fight for you. Sounds like Al Gore. She'll tell us what to do if you think Uncle Sam is going after you unfairly.

And then in A.M. Pop, Kenny Rogers joins us live in the studio. He's got a new album and new outlook on life. We'll chat with him about that, just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Every year we do our taxes, careful to make sure that we get it right or face the dreaded audit. Did you ever wonder, is anyone out there looking for me? Or looking out for me? Joining us now is Nina Olson. She's the national tax advocate, a position inside the IRS. It's there to hold the agency accountable. And, Nina, I dare say that most of the people in this country don't know that there is a lone voice in the wilderness at the IRS looking out for us, the lowly taxpayers.

NINA OLSON, NATIONAL TAXPAYER ADVOCATE: Well, you know,a lot of people say we're the best kept secret in the IRS. And we're not really alone. There are 2,000 employees that I have around the country whose sole job it is to help taxpayers solve their problems with the IRS.

ROBERTS: Now this job was created back in the '70s, if I'm not mistaken, but it really only got teeth in about 1998. How did it get that added heft at the IRS?

OLSON: Well, in 1998, Congress held a series of hearings looking at how the IRS was actually treating taxpayers, and there was some restructuring and reorganization legislation that came out of those hearings, and my office was strengthened at that time, creating it -- making it independent of the rest of the IRS, although I do report to the commissioner, and really charging us to be the voice of the taxpayer inside the IRS.

ROBERTS: So a lot of people would like to know from the inside perspective, has the IRS gotten better than it was in the past? Because it had gotten a reputation really for beating up on taxpayers.

OLSON: Well, in the years after 1998, the IRS really did focus on customer service. We like to say that it wasn't but 10 years ago that the IRS answered the phone when taxpayers called only 60 percent of the time. And now they're up to about 85 percent of the time, which is pretty much what industry standards are in the private sector. So they've really improved in that way certainly.

ROBERTS: You had quite a victory just this past January when you forced the IRS to change its rules regarding the withholding of tax returns. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

OLSON: Well, the IRS has a program that is looking for fraudulent refund claims. When taxpayers are really trying to scam the government and scam other taxpayers. And it's a legitimate really important program, but it was not operating in the way it should, and it was actually freezing refunds of many taxpayers who were entitled to them. And I tried for several years to get the IRS -- inside the IRS to pay attention to it. And I finally just made it a public -- I just publicized it through my annual report to Congress, and it got a fair amount of attention.

ROBERTS: Right. So this was the IRS was withholding tax refunds from people, but not telling them?

OLSON: Not telling them. They were not giving them notice. So they weren't giving the taxpayers the opportunity to come in and say, look, I'm entitled to my refund.

ROBERTS: Right. This has got to put you at odds with the IRS commissioner Mark Everson from time to time. I mean, he can't fire you by statute, because you are appointed by the treasury secretary.

OLSON: That's correct.

ROBERTS: Does it often kind of get tense between the two of you?

OLSON: Well, I mean, as the commissioner says, there is tension, but it's not undue tension. I mean, my job, as odd as it sounds, is to criticize my boss, or the agency that my boss runs. And so if I'm doing my job right, there's bound to be some tension. But everybody understands that that's part of the job. That's how it was designed in fact.

ROBERTS: Well, isn't it great? I mean, everybody criticizes their boss, but you actually get paid for it, and it's actually your job description.

OLSON: That's right.

ROBERTS: That's terrific. Well, listen, national taxpayer advocate Nina Olson, it's good to talk with you. It's good have somebody looking out for us there.

And by the way, if you feel like you are being mistreated by the IRS, you can call the national taxpayer advocate. Here's the telephone number: It's 877-ASK-TAS1. It's 877-ASK-TAS1, or go online at IRS.gov/advocate.

We got a mole on the inside there.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I had no idea that job even existed.

ROBERTS: Nor did I. Not until this morning.

O'BRIEN: Interesting.

(MARKET REPORT)

O'BRIEN: "CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up next. Daryn's got that. What are you working on, Daryn? Good morning.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: So I guess instead of what's your sign, it will be, what's your group I.D. number will be the pickup line in the bar.

Hey, we have an incredible two hours you're not going to want to miss. We're talking about something so powerful it rotted through his teeth and all but went into his jaw bone. A recovering meth addict shares his story to talk about a drug is taking its toll on people of all ages, not just young people.

Also roaming the streets. Seven months after Katrina hit, we'll check in on the plight of the pets in New Orleans. They still need your help, believe it or not. That's coming up in just a bit.

For now, back to New York.

All right, Daryn, thank you.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, country superstar Kenny Rogers is going to drop by live in our studio. He's got a new album. It's got an interesting message. We'll talk about that just ahead in A.M. Pop.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Oh, this morning's "A.M. Pop." The gambler still has a winning hand. Three-time Grammy winner Kenny Rogers has a new album. It's his 63rd album, the first in three years, and it's called "Water and Bridges." Already, one of the songs is climbing the charts. Kenny Rogers joins us live in the studio.

Nice to see you.

KENNY ROGERS, MUSICIAN: It's good to see you. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Sixty-three albums!

ROGERS: It's scary, isn't it? Something -- I heard 65 yesterday. So I don't know. There's a...

O'BRIEN: Somewhere between 63 and 65.

ROGERS: Let's say 64, and we've got to be close.

O'BRIEN: OK. I'm on that.

ROGERS: I don't know how that happens. You think someone would know the number after that amount. Wouldn't you?

O'BRIEN: Wow, that's pretty amazing.

ROGERS: It is. You know, and the great thing is my wife went out last year at Christmastime and found -- she went on eBay, she went to all of her friends, went to the record companies, and got a copy of everything I've ever done and put it in a leather-bound folder.

O'BRIEN: So we need her here. She'd know if it were 63, 64 or 65.

ROGERS: She would know, of course.

O'BRIEN: People have said that this -- one of the reviewers said, every song is better than the next. That's it's an amazing -- and I know you're not the songwriter, but you have done an amazing job picking them.

ROGERS: You know, I've always said, I've never felt I was a particularly good singer, but I've always thought I had a great knack for picking hit songs. And on this particular album -- I have a friend who's a psychologist, and we were having dinner one night. And I told him that it really bothered me that success was no longer important to me. He said an interesting thing happens to men as they get older, particularly if they've been successful. He said you stop striving for success and you start striving for significance. So when we put this album together, one of the things --- I didn't want to just do a bunch of songs and hope something worked. We wanted to do songs that really had something to say. Because music should either make you laugh, make you cry or make you think. And the proportion of which one of those you do determines the kind of album.

O'BRIEN: Every song has a message through it.

ROGERS: It does.

O'BRIEN: Let's listen to the first one, "Someone is Me." It's really interesting lyrics. Let's listen.

(MUSIC)

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: Well, you know, what that song is -- that song really says, maybe that someone is me. I'm a people watcher and I watch people. And it is a complicated world out there. But when you break it down, it's as simple as the person that lays down by you at night. That's how simple life is.

O'BRIEN: You have a beautiful ballad, "I Can't Unlove You."

ROGERS: Can't unlove you. Now, this is a guy that believed everything he said.

O'BRIEN: And your son is in the video.

ROGERS: Oh, yes. Chris. Yes. He's 24. Everything still thinks he's 14. But he was so funny. He went to L.A. to take acting lessons.

O'BRIEN: Tell me about this song.

ROGERS: Well, the song's called "I Can't Unlove You," and it's about a guy who believed everything he said when he got into this relationship. Pictures were supposed to eventually be memories. And it turns out that he's just not good at unringing the bell. It's an unusual look. I've never heard any of those expressions before, unhear the words, unsay all the things. And that's what I loved about it.

O'BRIEN: You also have a song which I like called "My Petition." And it's really interesting. It's an open letter to the president about all the things that you think need to be addressed at a high level.

ROGERS: It's about the goodness of kids. Here's a little boy who's a little kid, and he's going around with a petition from door to door getting people to sign it. It has ten things he wants the president to address. Make a law where daddies don't work late. Keep Uncle Joe and the soldiers safe. Give all those kids on TV all they need to eat.

O'BRIEN: You have twins -- I was surprised to read this -- the same age as my twins.

ROGERS: Oh, 20 months old?

O'BRIEN: Yes, mine are going to be 20 months old.

ROGERS: Are yours identical?

O'BRIEN: No. Mine are fraternal. Yours are identical, right?

ROGERS: I'm embarrassed to tell you I can't tell them apart. It's scary.

O'BRIEN: Oh, well, you know, I can't even tell mine apart and they're fraternal!

ROGERS: But they go just like that. They skipped walking, they went from crawling to running.

O'BRIEN: Is it crazy or do you just love it?

ROGERS: I'm right at home.

O'BRIEN: I mean, does it help you sort of creatively?

ROGERS: You know, it's like, as they say, it either makes you or breaks you, and I'm leaning toward break right now. It is so much -- it's the greatest gift I've ever been given.

O'BRIEN: Really. Really. Gosh. You do everything. I mean "The Gambler" series, the miniseries, one of the most popular ever. You run your entertainment company. Although you're the chairman, you sort of hand it off to other people to run.

ROGERS: Yes. I have a lot of people. You know, I think the greatest gift in the world is a good employee, you know, or people who can do your work for you and do it well the way you'd like to have it done. And I've always been able to surround myself with really good people. And that way you can get a lot done, because you can say, do this, and you know they will do it the way you want.

O'BRIEN: Do you feel like everything you touch just turns to gold? Or is there just the hard work behind it that people don't see?

ROGERS: Well, I don't think everything necessarily that I touch turns to gold, but I think I get great joy out of it regardless of whether it is successful or not. I feel like I learn something from everything I do.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you come and talk with us.

ROGERS: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We've got your new album. It's really lovely. We've been listening to it all through the show this morning. It's called "Water and Bridges." Number 63 or 64 or 65. Mrs. Rogers will have to fill us in on that.

ROGERS: By Tuesday it may be 66.

O'BRIEN: It could be, could be.

ROGERS: They're not good, but there's a lot of them.

O'BRIEN: Nice to see you.

ROGERS: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And they're all good! You're being ridiculously modest. Thanks.

A short break and we're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING, we're taking a look at the "South Park" controversy. How will the creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone replace the beloved Chef? Seems like they've already done it, actually.

ROBERTS: Yes, and you can you bet that they're going to do it in such a way that will be a little snarky.

O'BRIEN: Getting the answer tonight, in tonight's episode. We'll watch and see if it's interesting and see what the fans think, too. A look at that tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING. Don't forget, we begin at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time.

ROBERTS: Can't forget that, can you?

O'BRIEN: Can't forget that because we don't, each and every day.

ROBERTS: As always, anytime anything ever goes on, blame Canada.

O'BRIEN: That's it for us this morning. Let's get right to Daryn Kagan. She's going to take you through the next few hours. Hey, Daryn.

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