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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Tea Party Tax Protests; Interview With Jack Kevorkian
Aired April 15, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest."
On tax day, the Tea Party Express turns up its volume. They say taxes are too high and government too expensive. Are they right? We will give you the facts, let you decide.
Also tonight, breaking news: President Obama moving to end discrimination against same-sex relationships in hospitals. There's breaking news on that. We will have an exclusive woman who was kept from her dying partner's side and has fought to change the law. The president called her today from Air Force One with the news of his decision.
And, later, the "Big 360 Interview": Jack Kevorkian, Dr. Death. Out of jail and off parole, he talks freely about what he did and what he would still like to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: you in touch with people who want to end their life?
JACK KEVORKIAN, ASSISTED SUICIDE ADVOCATE: Not right now, no. No, they all assume, like the judge says, "You have now been stopped."
Well, she was wrong. I haven't.
COOPER: You haven't been stopped?
KEVORKIAN: No, of course not. I still push for this issue. And when a chance comes, I will do it the way it should be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: First up tonight, "Keeping Them Honest," it's tax day, as you no doubt know.
The Tea Party Express held a big rally in Washington today. Thousands showed up. Two of the reasons, the size of government and the amount of money needed to pay for it.
Now, here's last year tax haul, $2.2 trillion. Take a breath. That is how much the federal government collected. Tonight, a new CNN poll shows about half of Americans think the federal tax system is fair, while half think it's unfair. Tea Party activists, clearly in the unfair camp, they say they are paying too much in taxes. But we wanted to look at how much we now pay in taxes compared to what we used to pay and to other countries.
So, let's go over to the wall here. Now, if you are in the highest tax bracket this year, your marginal tax rate, well, it's over here. It's 35 percent. Now, 50 years ago, this is what it was, 91 percent. Imagine that. That's a huge drop, obviously, for those at the top end of the tax pool.
But, of course, most Americans now are in the middle of the tax pool. So, let's look at their effective tax rate, what they pay after deductions and tax credits. Fifty years ago, over here, a family of four in exact middle of the income spectrum was taxed at rate of just under 7 percent, 7.7 percent. In 1980, what they actually paid in taxes peaked at just under 12 percent.
And, since then, with a couple exceptions, it's been falling. This year, it's estimated that a same family of four will pay only 4.6 percent of its income in federal taxes.
Now, on the low end -- the low end of the scale, let's look at a household earning less than $30,000. You probably don't pay any federal income taxes.
I also want to show you one thing. Remember the 35 percent rate that Americans in the highest tax bracket pay today? I want to show you how that compares to other countries. In Australia, the highest marginal rate is 45 percent, in France, 40 percent, Germany 45, Japan 40 percent. Netherlands has the highest. Look at this, 52 percent over here for the Netherlands.
And, in the U.K., it's 40 percent. Now, keep in mind, most of these countries also have national sales taxes that add another 20 percent on to the tax burden.
Now, we want to point out that many Tea Party activists are concerned about what's also coming in the years ahead, and understandably so. The Obama administration's 10-year budget plan calls for a tax increase of nearly $1 trillion, including more than $630 billion in personal income taxes on people make more than $250,000.
Now, that's a result of the Bush tax cuts ending as scheduled, and well as a hike in capital gains -- $353 billion comes from American businesses.
Let's talk about that now, talk about the "Raw Politics," with Jessica Yellin and John Avlon, CNN contributor and senior political writer at The Daily Beast.
Jessica, we also should point out there were scheduled protests in cities across the country by Tea Party protest groups. It wasn't just in Washington. You spent a lot of time out there today with protesters. What was the mood like out there? JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, what struck me most is how much the anger had dissipated.
This was a very different crowd from even the group I saw a few weeks ago in Nevada and from the kinds of angry protests we saw during the health care debate. They were calm. They were friendly. Their issues were taxes and the government spending, as you mentioned.
They say, we want to throw these bums out. But, most of all, I saw not even one sign that you could interpret as racist. There people up on the podium calling out to the audience saying, we are not a racist movement. And if you see anybody doing anything that strikes you as inappropriate, let us know about them.
So, whether they are getting P.R.-savvy or just concerned, clearly, the tone here has shifted here, Anderson.
COOPER: It was interesting. There was this CBS/"New York Times" poll that was released. The question was, do you think too much is made of the problems facing black people? A majority of Tea Party activists said yes, compared with just 28 percent of all Americans.
But, clearly, you are saying today there was a move to try to just make sure that there weren't any -- nothing that would be objectionable?
YELLIN: So that nobody could at least perceive this as in way racist.
The crowd is still overwhelmingly white. But the message is, racism and attacks on race are not what we are about. We are about a message, about taxes and spending that crosses race lines.
COOPER: There was all this talk by some liberal groups about showing up and kind of disrupting things by holding up other signs and pretending to be Tea Party activists and kind of trying to hurt them from within.
Did you see any of that?
YELLIN: I didn't. There were some clear liberal protests. And it was clearly protests by liberals. But the idea of anybody infiltrating to be misleading and look like Tea Partiers, that, I didn't see any signs of that.
COOPER: All right, it's interesting, John, the Democrats' big push this week has been, we are the party that's going to lower your taxes. But most people don't feel like their taxes have been lowered.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right.
There's a historical reason why the Democrats have a credibility gap on this issue. They have been historically associated with high taxes and high spending, fairly or not. COOPER: And big government, obviously.
AVLON: And big government.
But, now, what's interesting is that, this year, actually, the federal tax burden has fallen on most Americans. So, there's actually -- while taxes are going up next year, this year, more Americans paid less in federal income taxes.
COOPER: People don't feel that.
AVLON: No, they don't.
And that's -- look, we are in an economic recession. There's a lot of economic anxiety. There's a lot, in addition to the political frustration. What is interesting, though, Tea Partiers, number-one issue, spending.
The Citizens Against Government Waste came out with their report yesterday that showed that the number of pork-barrel products and their cost has also gone down over the last year with the Democratic Congress.
So, to some extent, they are competing with a phantom menace here. But the overall issue of deficit and debt is relevant, is important. And taxes are going up next year.
COOPER: Right. And there's a big concern about what's going down the pike.
COOPER: We know taxes are going to be going up, especially on those making more than $250,000.
AVLON: That's exactly right.
And, so, those issues, there's clearly an emotional sense that this is coming that way. Already, we have seen some state legislatures raising taxes, some local governments. We know that there's debt and deficit coming down the pike. And people are angry and animated about that. And they should be.
AVLON: The problem is when it explodes into some of the strangeness we have seen. But this protest, Jessica is there, said it seems to be very orderly. And that to a great credit.
COOPER: Jessica, there was a new Tea Party list today of races where they want to have an impact this year. Where in particular are they targeting?
YELLIN: Well, there's a number of House races. But the big ones they are targeting, Anderson, are Senate races. There's Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, Barbara Boxer, Democratic senator in California, Arlen Specter, who, as you know, in Pennsylvania switched from Republican to Democrat. So, they really want to get them. But their number-one target, above all, is Harry Reid in Nevada, both because he's the face of Democrats in Washington, as the leader in the Senate, but also because they really think that he's gettable.
He's been targeted for a long time. They think it would be sort of taking down one of the three faces of the Democratic Party, with Pelosi and Obama. And they do plan to spend a lot of money there, advertise against him, and try to make their impact felt.
If Reid loses reelection, the Tea Party protesters will take full credit for that -- Anderson.
COOPER: No doubt about that.
John Avlon, Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.
So, where exactly do all our tax dollars go? Remember, last year, the federal government hauled in more than $2 trillion in taxes.
Tom Foreman is here to show us all where it went.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, most of us have our take-home pay spoken for ahead of time, for the mortgage, the car, utilities, insurance, food, all of that. And so does the federal government.
Out of the billions we pour into the federal piggy bank every year, the vast amount is already committed before Congress or the president spends a dime. So, let's break down where all the pennies go out of a single of your tax dollars.
And, right away, you can see what some of the biggest parts are here, defense and security. We have the biggest, most powerful military in the world. And we pay for it, about 20 cents out of every tax dollar. Social Security, we have a lot of older people in this country who are living a long time, 20 cents more to them.
Third, health programs, Medicare, Medicaid and others, they grab around 21 cents. Programs like food stamps, housing and heating assistance, child care assistance collectively take another 14 cents.
We have benefits for veterans and retired federal workers. That's 7 cents. And I should note here you can move some of these numbers around, for example, and say the cost of veterans is a military expense. That's why you might see different charts from time to time. And fractions of pennies means this doesn't add up to exactly a dollar, but it's pretty close.
You ever run up a credit card bill and you have to pay interest? This is ours, 6 cents on every one of your tax dollars. So, look, we have spent 88 cents already. And these are pretty much obligations. We haven't even started on what we might want to buy with our money.
But now let's look at that little piece of the pie that we have left. We spend a few pennies on science and research, like the space program, a few more on transportation, on bridges and highways. We spend some for education and some for international efforts.
And look what we have left, 4 cents for everything else it takes to run a government. But here is something to bear in mind with all of this. If we talk about each dollar we are spending, our taxes are only covering about 60 percent these days. The rest is being borrowed -- Anderson.
COOPER: A lot of borrowing.
Go to AC360.com to see which states are hit hardest by taxes and see how your state ranks.
The live chat is up and running right now at AC360.com. Let us know, do you think taxes are fair or unfair? The country seems about evenly divided, which kind of surprised me.
Just ahead, breaking news that could signal a major change for same-sex couples who are now denied the right to make decisions and to visit their partners in hospitals -- my exclusive interview with a woman kept from her partner's dying side until it was too late.
Plus, the situation in Iceland, this major eruption that is disrupting plane travel.
And this fireball in the sky over the Midwest, what was it? A lot of folks thought it was a UFO. We will explain what it was ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight: President Barack Obama moving to end discrimination in hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples.
Today, he told the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would prevent hospitals from denying visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.
Now, the new rule would allow patients to decide who can visit them and would prevent discrimination based on a number of characteristics, including sexual orientation. The new guidance will affect most hospitals in the country.
The president said that the current relatives-only policy at hospitals mean that gay and lesbians are -- and I quote -- "often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives, unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated." That is exactly what happened to Janice Langbehn. She lost her partner, Lisa, three years ago and was not permitted to see her before she died. They had been together for 17 years, were raising four children together.
Janice's case is what motivated President Obama to act today.
Janice, what does this mean for you today?
JANICE LANGBEHN, DENIED VISITATION RIGHTS: I was really humbled to know that my three years of speaking out against what happened to our family has come to fruition, not just at Jackson Memorial, who changed their policies this week, but now across the U.S.
COOPER: Tell us a little bit about what happened to you. You and your kids were with your partner in Florida. You were there for a cruise, for a trip. Lisa collapsed. And -- and she was taken to the hospital. I mean, how did they say that you weren't allowed to see her?
LANGBEHN: My partner collapsed. And when she got to the hospital, which was about 3:00, 3:30, Florida time, a social worker, Garnett Frederick, came out and told me -- "You are in an anti-gay city and state and won't get to see your partner or know of her condition," and then turned to walk away.
And I said: "But wait a minute. I have a power of attorney." So, he came back and gave me his fax number. And within 20 minutes of him telling me that, they had our legal document. But I continued to wait.
COOPER: So, wait a minute. You had the legal documents needed. You had advanced directives; you had a power of attorney?
LANGBEHN: I did, yes.
COOPER: And yet they still wouldn't let you see her?
LANGBEHN: Because I have -- yes, because I have multiple sclerosis. So, we were planning for anything like this. And it didn't matter to this hospital.
COOPER: They finally did let you see her briefly, but only when they were reading her, her last rites; is that right?
LANGBEHN: Yes. A chaplain came to me. And I said, I need a priest immediately.
And I didn't want the children to see her for the first time that way, because I didn't know what I would see. And, so, just I went back to do the last rites. And she must have had some kind of consciousness, because she was actually restrained to the bed at that point, though not verbal or conscious. And then they, after the five-minute ceremony, brought me back out. And I continued to wait another -- with the kids, another five hours. And it wasn't until her sister showed up from Jacksonville that then I was allowed in to have access to my partner of 17 years.
COOPER: And I understand that, when her sister showed up, they instantly started talking to her sister, saying what room she was in, telling her sister details that they hadn't talked to you about.
LANGBEHN: That's correct. They had actually kept us in the waiting room at the trauma center for a whole hour. And it wasn't until her sister showed up and said, oh, we moved her an hour ago.
And, yet, I had been standing there for the last eight hours. And they didn't have the decency to tell me they had even moved her.
COOPER: What did the president -- the president actually called you today. What did he say?
LANGBEHN: That was pretty shocking.
LANGBEHN: He said that he was -- he apologized for how our family was treated, which is something I have been getting -- asking Jackson Memorial to do. They refuse to apologize to me and our children.
COOPER: That's the hospital in Florida?
LANGBEHN: That's the hospital in Florida. They refuse to apologize to the kids and I.
But the president did, which makes up for a lot, and then said that he had directed HHS to this memorandum that he was signing today, so that patients could decide who their family is, who their circle of intimacy was. And I thanked him, because I believe this will be Lisa's legacy, that she didn't die in vain.
COOPER: What do you think Lisa would think about all this?
LANGBEHN: She was a pretty quiet person. She would be pretty shocked at all the, you know, outpouring of support that we are getting.
Even at the time -- even at the time of her death, her memorial was overflowing, because Lisa touched so many people's lives that now it's another chance to celebrate who she was. She donated her organs. And we know the gentleman who has her heart, I know he is out there smiling for what he has gotten from her.
And I know the kids and I are just amazed of what she's been able to accomplish through her death.
COOPER: I read something you said. And I just want to read it out to our viewers. You had said: "To hold Lisa's hand was not a gay right. It was a human right."
LANGBEHN: Yes, I said that from the minute it happened, yes, that I didn't make it up, that the social worker said it to me. And I truly believe that who you want at the moment of your death, it should not be defined by blood relation.
COOPER: Janice Langbehn, I appreciate you talking to us tonight. Thank you.
LANGBEHN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next on the program: the mysterious explosion over the Midwest skies. The night lit up. People from several states saw it. A lot of people thought it was a UFO, a lot of people scratching their heads. We will tell you what it is coming.
Also tonight, Dr. Jack Kevorkian talking life and death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How many people in total did you help die?
KEVORKIAN: It's around 130.
KEVORKIAN: A little more than 130.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wasn't sure of the exact number. We will explain that ahead.
He also said the first machine he used to help people die was made with parts he found at a flea market. He had a lot more to tell us. The "Big 360 Interview" with Dr. Kevorkian is ahead.
COOPER: A mysterious fireball lit up the sky across the Midwest, so, bright, witnesses say, it turned night into day. Sheriff's departments in at least five states were flooded with calls last night. Some people thought they had seen a UFO. Our question, of course, is, what is it?
Joining me now to explain the phenomenon is meteorologist Chad Myers.
Chad, what do you make of this?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I think it's part of the Gamma Virginids meteor shower. They are not very popular. You know, you've heard of all the other ones. You don't hear of that one very much.
But it's going to go. Yesterday was the peak. It kind of makes sense that we ran through something, the Earth ran through it, and this meteor came down and through. It even showed up on the Doppler radar in parts of southwestern Wisconsin. You know, it is iron, right, kind of the meteorite, iron.
So, as it comes through, it just reflects that radar. And people thought that it was, in fact, rain on the radar, but it just happened too quickly. And there you can see the flashing there. It exploded in the air. And this is very popular and just is a normal thing for it to do.
And when it explodes in the air, then it makes showers. And that's when you get the big bright flash. Also, people reported that there were sonic booms going on last night as well as it came through the atmosphere.
COOPER: And how often does this happen?
MYERS: We go through it every year, once a year at this time.
MYERS: But they are rarely anything like that. Most of the time, we just kind of see some small sparks and showers, not like this. This was almost an explosion.
COOPER: All right, what's going on in Iceland? There's this huge eruption. Flights, I guess, to Europe were stopped for a while. How long could the eruption last?
MYERS: I think this could last a long time. This is a significant event for Europe and for plane travel.
You cannot fly an airplane, especially a jet plane, through ash. Now, I know that looks nice and kind -- you know, all compacted, you could fly around it. But, as it -- as it gets more diffuse, away from the volcano itself, there's ash in the sky and you can't see it.
Ash actually melts in the jet plane itself. In the engine, it melts and becomes obsidian. It becomes like lava glass. And you don't want that lava glass in your jet plane, because, in the jet itself, it will stop running, and the plane will fall out of the sky. This is not just something like, hey, we are cautioning you not to fly.
Literally, Anderson, the airspace...
COOPER: Yes, I mean, thousands of flights have been canceled.
MYERS: Airspace is closed right here, London Heathrow, Gatwick, Charles de Gaulle, all the U.K. airspace, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, all closed because there is ash coming down from this.
And I'm going to draw a line to show you where it's coming from. There's the volcano into Iceland. It should -- the ash should just kind of trail off into Sweden and Norway and go into northern Russia. Not happening because of the way the jet stream is bringing it down across the U.K.
It's then going to swing it back over toward the Canary Islands and then in the Mediterranean. Travelers could be stranded for weeks if this ash doesn't get out of the way very quickly. And I don't see it.
When it does this, it's going to be floating around that atmosphere for a very long time.
COOPER: So, there's no way right now for planes just to kind of go -- go around it?
MYERS: No, absolutely not, because you are in it.
When the ash is over you, you can't fly up and through it. This is what an ash particle looks like under big-time magnification. You wouldn't want that in your lungs. Even if they were flying through it, you would get it in the atmosphere of the airplane. You certainly wouldn't want that in an engine. And that will melt in a jet.
Look at it. It's just so, so very coarse and then just scouring in the jet. And it literally brings the jet engine to a standstill. And then the plane would fall out of the sky with no power.
MYERS: You -- you -- you just can't have that.
COOPER: Unbelievable. Chad, thanks very much.
COOPER: (AUDIO GAP) stories tonight, Joe Johns joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a 360 follow tonight: Charges have been dropped against nine of the 10 American missionaries held in Haiti earlier this year. They were accused of trying to kidnap Haitian children after January's earthquake. The group's leader, Laura Silsby, remains in a Haitian jail.
Rescuers in Northwest China airlifted hundreds of earthquake survivors to hospitals today. The country's state-run news agency says the death toll from Wednesday's 6.9-magnitude quake has hit 760 and more than 11,000 have been injured.
U.S. home foreclosures are at a record high. According to RealtyTrac, bank repossessions spiked in the first three months of 2010, up 16 percent from a year ago. The firm says it's a sign banks are finally getting through their backlog of troubled home loans.
And we got a look at the Obama's 2009 tax returns today. The first couple made $5.5 million last year, mostly from sales of the president's book. They paid nearly $1.8 million in taxes and reported nearly $330,000 in donations to 40 different charities -- Anderson.
All right, Joe, thanks.
Coming up next right now, our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day.
Tonight's picture: German Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Los Angeles today.
The staff winner tonight is Ben -- his caption: "Oh, shut up already, and take me to this In-N-Out Burger I keep hearing about."
COOPER: I should probably -- it should have been more like, "Oh, shut up already, and take me to this In-N-Out Burger I keep hearing about."
The viewer winner is John from Germantown, Tennessee -- his caption: "We have agreed to increase trade to help our economies. Our first exports from Callyfornia to Germany will be Nancy Pelosi and Britney Spears."
That was Governor Schwarzenegger. Don't even do that one.
John, thanks very much. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
Coming up next: fallout from the firestorm set off by a Tennessee family. Russia suspends all adoptions by U.S. citizens -- details on that ahead.
And Dr. Jack Kevorkian out of prison after eight years, off parole, a parole of two years, speaking out freely tonight in a very candid interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVORKIAN: What's a doctor supposed to do, turn his back? If he is -- if he's a coward, he is, but...
COOPER: A lot of doctors do, though.
KEVORKIAN: Well, they are cowards. Doctors are cowards. You know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In tonight's "Big 360 Interview": Jack Kevorkian, known, of course, as Dr. Death. He helped his first patient end her life in 1990. Dr. Kevorkian has participated in at least 130 assisted suicides. After serving eight years and three months in prison and being on parole for two years, he is now a free man. Yet, he's convinced that what he was doing was right.
He's now the subject of a new HBO film called, "You Don't Know Jack." Al Pacino plays him in the movie. Dr. Jack Kevorkian joined me earlier today for a very candid and revealing conversation.
COOPER: How many people, in total, did you help die?
DR. JACK KEVORKIAN, ASSISTED PATIENTS IN SUICIDES: It's around 130.
KEVORKIAN: A little more than 130.
COOPER: You're not sure of the exact number?
KEVORKIAN: Well, I was helped by a colleague, a psychiatrist who joined me near the end. The only doctor who offered to join me. In fact, the only doctor who would do any -- who would cooperate with me.
COOPER: And the first time you did it, who was the first?
KEVORKIAN: Janet Adkins was the first.
COOPER: And that was done in a van?
KEVORKIAN: In a van.
COOPER: Why in a van?
KEVORKIAN: I couldn't find a place. I tried nursing homes, churches.
COOPER: You didn't want to do it at your apartment?
KEVORKIAN: No, because the police would -- would raid the apartment, clean it out. And I didn't want to involve anybody else in it, like the landlord.
COOPER: I mean, what is that like to end somebody's life in a van?
KEVORKIAN: Well, you're only -- you're not ending their life. I didn't do it to end the life. I did it to end the suffering the patient is going through. The patient is obviously suffering. What's a doctor supposed to do, turn his back? If he's a coward he is.
COOPER: But a lot of doctors do that.
KEVORKIAN: Well, they're cowards. Doctors are cowards. You know that. They won't take anything that's going to hurt their income or their reputation. Anything that's going to possible -- any legal thing that's going to possibly be damaging.
COOPER: I mean, do you have nightmares about it? Do you ever feel...
KEVORKIAN: No. I don't think a doctor would have a nightmare about any medical procedure or else he's not a doctor.
COOPER: Did you find it sad?
KEVORKIAN: Well, of course. You don't like to end a life. But a doctor, if somebody has got a cancer of the bone, of the hip, you don't take their leg off at the joint, the hip joint because you want to do it. I says, "I want to take that leg off. I can't wait to take that leg off." No. The leg has to come off to save the patient's life. Unfortunately, it entails the loss of a leg.
COOPER: But a lot of people, as you know, say look, you're playing God.
KEVORKIAN: Isn't the doctor who takes a leg off playing God?
COOPER: You're saying doctors play God all the time?
KEVORKIAN: Of course. Anytime you interfere with a natural process, you're playing God. God determines what happens naturally.
That means that, when a person is ill, he shouldn't go to a doctor, because he's asking for interference with God's will. But of course, patients can't think that way. They want to live as long as possible and not suffer. So, they call a doctor to help them end the suffering.
COOPER: Are you a religious man?
COOPER: Do you believe in God?
KEVORKIAN: I don't know. Is there a God? Look, I'm a scientist. A doctor is always a scientist.
COOPER: Do you fear death?
KEVORKIAN: Well, as much as anyone else. I fear it only because I like living so much, because I feel good.
COOPER: If you were -- if you were ill, if you had a terminal illness or in pain, would you take your own life?
KEVORKIAN: If there was ending pain and there was no cure, of course. I'm doing this for me. See, it's my natural right. That's in the Constitution, the Ninth Amendment, which is ignored. I have a natural right to do whatever I want with my body, anything, as long as it doesn't affect anybody else or any other property and I give permission, myself permission to do it.
That's true of anything. I help a patient only with his permission to do what I think is necessary. And it's all laid out in detail to the patient.
COOPER: Do you think you've had an impact?
KEVORKIAN: I don't know.
COOPER: Do you think you've been successful?
KEVORKIAN: I think this film may have an impact, because it's very emotional and very powerful. But what -- it helps the issue, and that's what counts. Whether it helps me or not is irrelevant. And I like that, because it helps the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL PACINO, ACTOR: I'll tell you again, I'm not going to touch your food. It would be an admission of guilt. You know, I can go for weeks without food. Like Gandhi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look worse than Gandhi, Jack. You look like one of your patients. It's been three days. Come on.
PACINO: I'm not moving. I'm not paying that bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to. I did. Come on. Let's go.
PACINO: You didn't? You paid my bail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I bailed you out. Let's go.
PACINO: What kind of lawyer does that? What's the matter with you? Don't you see I'm denying myself nourishment. I'm starving to death for three days to make a point. This is a protest. They violated my rights. You're not supposed to bail me out. Defeats the purpose. I should fire you, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Al Pacino as Dr. Kevorkian. Up next, more of the big 360 interview with Dr. Kevorkian on how he helped people take their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVORKIAN: I would set up the machines, all the solutions and everything. And then the intravenous line. And then the patient would hit a switch and start everything flowing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: He actually injected the final patient, and he served time in jail for that, eight years, three months, two years on parole. Would he do it again? His answer ahead.
Plus, "Raw Politics" with comedian Lewis Black. Talking taxes, Tea Parties and more. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Before the break you heard Dr. Jack Kevorkian defending his role in helping more than 130 people die. He said he did it to end their suffering. Dr. Kevorkian also insisted that he wanted to be convicted. He served eight years in prison.
He remains an extremely polarizing person and a fascinating one, as well. Later this month, HBO is going to premiere a film on his life. Al Pacino plays Kevorkian. It's called "You Don't Know Jack". Here now is more of the big 360 interview with Dr. Kevorkian.
COOPER: You used different ways of ending people's lives.
COOPER: At first, what did you use?
KEVORKIAN: I had to devise a way to do it. The patient was a quadriplegic, wanted a doctor to come and help him die. I said, "I can help you, but it's illegal. So I've got to find a way to do it legally. And I'll get back in touch with you."
In the meantime, I was working on a way to do it.
COOPER: You basically just came up with an idea in your mind to make a machine?
KEVORKIAN: That would save me from having to do it.
COOPER: So a machine that would allow the person to actually end their own lives.
KEVORKIAN: I would set up the machines, all the solutions and everything. And the intravenous line. And then the patient would hit a switch and start everything flowing.
COOPER: Later on, you started using a gas.
KEVORKIAN: Yes, because they stopped -- they took away my license for the controlled substance.
COOPER: So you couldn't get access to...
KEVORKIAN: So they made it harder for me and harder for the patient. But that didn't bother them. They don't care about the patient suffering. COOPER: So you actually -- so what, you put something over their head and give them a gas?
KEVORKIAN: No. We first tried one case where the thing -- I devised it over the head of a plastic. You could see through transparent. But the patient panicked and said, "Stop it, stop it." So, I stopped it. We stopped it.
And I says, "Why don't we try this another day."
He said, "No, do it now." He was determined to end it. He had severe emphysema. And that helps your panic. When you breathe, and you have trouble breathing, you're breathing carbon monoxide gas. When you have -- when you have carbon monoxide poisoning at night when you're asleep, it doesn't wake you up. You die. In other words, it's not so disturbing that it would wake you up. Therefore, it can't be too disturbing when you take it.
COOPER: And the final patient, Tommy Youk...
COOPER: ... that case was different. You actually injected him yourself.
KEVORKIAN: That's right.
COOPER: You actually injected him, because you wanted to go to court.
KEVORKIAN: I wanted to bring the case so that I get standing. They can't say they didn't get the particularized case they wanted.
COOPER: You thought it would go to the Supreme Court and that basically, this would change the law of the land.
KEVORKIAN: Yes. I had hoped this would -- I doubt it, though, because I knew the court was corrupt.
COOPER: I wanted to show a little video that you made...
COOPER: ... prior to the injection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVORKIAN: We're ready to inject. We're going to inject in your right arm. OK? Tom, you asleep? He's asleep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When you see that, what do you think?
KEVORKIAN: That the law has forced me to do this in a most undignified way. COOPER: You think it's undignified?
KEVORKIAN: Of course it is. There was no family there. We're alone. Two of us. I can't risk anybody else's life.
COOPER: You had told his family that he -- they should leave.
KEVORKIAN: You must not be there, because they'll try to prosecute you as an accomplice or something. You don't know, because they're cruel. The law is cruel. They don't care about the patient. They care about the letter of the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bond is set for $50,000.
You going to pay that today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is beyond egregious, your honor.
PACINO: There's no way I'm going to pay a bond like that, your honor. You can forget it. You can forget it. Because his is the last time you people ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack.
PACINO: ... Unjustly take away from me my liberties. And I will not -- hear me now -- I will not eat. Guaranteed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize for my client, your honor.
PACINO: You're assisting my suicide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack, Jack, Jack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You're off parole now, right?
KEVORKIAN: Yes. I had only two years after I got out of prison.
COOPER: So you're a free man?
COOPER: Would you do it, again? Would you help somebody...
KEVORKIAN: Under certain circumstances, yes. As long as I know they're not going to throw me in jail again, and prison, yes, I would do it again.
COOPER: And you've had people approach you for help?
KEVORKIAN: They've approached me. I got letters from them when I was in prison. They wanted help. They wanted advice how to do it. I couldn't do that in prison. COOPER: Can you give advice to people now?
KEVORKIAN: Not in parole. It stopped it. With parole ending, I can give any advice I want.
COOPER: So now you could give advice?
KEVORKIAN: Absolutely. Notice I'm talking very freely about it.
COOPER: And are you in touch with people who want to end their lives?
KEVORKIAN: Not right now. No. They all assume, like the judge says, you have now been stopped. But she was wrong. I haven't.
COOPER: You haven't been stopped?
KEVORKIAN: No. Of course not. I still push for this issue. And when the chance comes, I'll do it the way it should be done.
COOPER: What do you mean? You will help someone else end their life?
KEVORKIAN: Because you have it in three states so far.
COOPER: Oregon, Washington.
KEVORKIAN: It's not done right. That's not a medical service. A doctor can't be involved. Illegal. AMA says, "You will lose your license." Scares the hell out of them.
COOPER: So will you build another machine?
KEVORKIAN: I don't need a machine. A doctor can do the injecting. The machine was just to avoid being charged with having committed the crime.
COOPER: But you don't have access to the pharmaceuticals anymore, do you?
KEVORKIAN: Not yet. But if it were legal, in other words, if the law stepped out of the picture, if religion stopped pushing this opposition, then we could do it like a regular medical procedure, which it should be.
COOPER: Tomorrow night, we're going to have more with Dr. Kevorkian and talk with the stars of the film, the director of the film about Dr. Kevorkian. Susan Sarandon, John Goodman and director Barry Levinson join me tomorrow night.
Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: This kind of thing doesn't happen without a conversation with your family members. I mean, it's not something -- it's usually, I mean, from what I understand -- correct me if I'm wrong -- it's something that people have been discussing for a long time, sometimes for years. You know, it's a very difficult, complicated.
Because you want to give your loved ones the opportunity to take care of you. That's something that sometimes is very important for them, too. At a certain point, they want to give you the gift of not suffering in whatever way, the fear of not being able to swallow. I mean, there are very specific things. And people are educated about what's in store for them. And they want to be dignified in their end.
And again, you know, it's something that, if you have money, is it really as much of a question? Because it happens all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll have more of the conversation with them tomorrow. A reminder, the HBO film, "You Don't Know Jack," which I've seen, by the way. And it's a remarkable film no matter which side of the argument you -- you happen to believe in. It is a remarkable film. "You Don't Know Jack" premiers Saturday, April 24 at 9 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up next on 360, Lewis Black takes on taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So tax day. Have you done your taxes?
LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: No. I -- well, I mean, I've done them, but somebody else does them. Somebody else now lies for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And the punch lines kept on coming. We'll talk to Lewis Black after the break.
Also, the pope addresses the growing sex scandal. What he said today about the allegations of abuse, coming up.
COOPER: Right now, the raw humor of Lewis Black, comedian, author, playwright. He speaks his mind and always makes us laugh. With it being April 15, we thought why not bring Lewis Black in to talk about taxes?
COOPER: So tax day. Have you done your taxes?
BLACK: No. I -- well, I mean I've done them, but somebody else does them. Somebody else now lies for me. I didn't really lie, ever. I mean, not consciously lie. I just never understood. COOPER: It's very confusing.
BLACK: Have you ever tried?
COOPER: I tried, like, early on, when I first got out of college. And I found it incredibly...
BLACK: I believe it's easier to learn a foreign language than it is to learn the English as it is written in a tax form.
I mean, first off, I think it's important, if you're going to ask someone a question about what they've earned, that there should be a verb somewhere. You know, it just seemed to be -- you're reading these things. You're like what did that mean? What is your non-farm income?
BLACK: Like, really? I have to say, the first time I read it, I had to pause and think, "How drunk was I when I bought a farm."
COOPER: Do you put -- I mean, what do you put? What do you put on your taxes? How do you describe yourself?
COOPER: Did they ever question that? Or...
BLACK: No. You know, no. The thing about taxes that I was thinking about, Anderson, is the fact that I believe -- I don't know why people don't see it as somewhat patriotic to pay them.
COOPER: Do you see that?
BLACK: Yes. I mean, I spent so long -- I was broke for so long that when -- I felt really great that I could finally pay a share. I just have never understood that thing of, "Oh, boy, you're going to take my money." Well, who's going to pay the fireman, you idiot?
COOPER: Do you feel you pay too much taxes?
BLACK: No. I'm doing really well. They don't take enough from me. That whole myth of the rich. I mean, I've actually started talking about it on stage as a comic. You know, we're protected. There's like a wall. You know, I'm a CEO of my own company, which anybody who knows me knows is wrong, if you've seen my act. I shouldn't be running a company.
But I have these people who run -- help me, you know. They do all the, you know, the stuff with the books. And then occasionally they show me the books, and I go, "Are you sure we're not going to jail for doing this?"
COOPER: Lewis Black, thanks so much.
BLACK: It was great. Thanks, Anderson. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Coming up next, an update on the air travel chaos in Europe. Volcanic ash grounding thousands of flights. The U.K. just issuing new details on the airport closures for tomorrow. We'll tell you about it.
Plus, Russia's suspending all adoptions by Americans, all of them, after a Tennessee family sent their adopted boy back to Moscow, alone on a plane.
COOPER: We're following several other stories. Joe Johns has a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, an update on that volcanic ash situation that's grounded flights all over Europe. The situation is not improving, the U.K. announcing that airports will remain closed throughout the day tomorrow until at least until 7 p.m. local time at the earliest.
During mass today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict appeared to talk about the sex-abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church. The pontiff spoke of the need to, quote, "open ourselves to forgiveness" and, quote, "let ourselves be transformed." In recent weeks, Pope Benedict and the Vatican have come under fire for how they've handled some abuse cases in Europe and the U.S.
The Russian government has suspended all adoptions by Americans after that Tennessee family sent that 7-year-old adopted boy back to Moscow alone with a letter claiming he's violent and psychotic. Russian authorities say the freeze will not be lifted until new rules covering adoptions can be negotiated with U.S. officials.
At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, President Obama pledging 100 percent commitment to NASA and its future. Mr. Obama wants to add $6 billion to the agency's budget over the next five years while halting a return to the moon. Instead, the goal is a mission to Mars within 25 years.
And scientists believe they've come up with a way to prevent serious genetic disorders among children. Give them three -- that's right -- three parents. Researchers at U.K.'s Newcastle University say the three-way in vitro fertilization they've come up with can create embryos that hold the DNA of two women and one man. This allows them, they say, to swap damaged DNA from one woman for healthy genetic material, Anderson.
COOPER: That sort of blows my mind.
JOHNS: Yes. That's amazing. Isn't it?
COOPER: All right, Joe, thanks.
For tonight's "Shot," in the green -- in the green room with Lewis Black, our producer Dave Falcon took a Flip cam to see what was on Black's mind about things like Twitter, reality shows. And I think he started by asking him about his strangest encounter with a fan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK: Wow. Tattoo of me on a woman's arm. Spectacular. Not only on a beautiful girl and -- who had a boyfriend, which made me wonder what he was thinking when he would have to look at this tattoo. And the tattoo is better than any picture ever taken of me.
It's such a ridiculous waste of time and energy. I would -- it would scare me if people were actually interested in what I'm doing. I'm not that interested in what I'm doing.
My problem with reality shows is I went to a school of -- drama. I went to a drama school. Like, that's what I'm supposed to be doing. I kind of think it's more interesting to try to heighten reality so that you watch it and another world is supposed to enter the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) world that I live in.
I like Wolf Blitzer. I do. Wolf Blitzer, anybody who will have me on a national news show in the afternoon is a great man. I mean, really, that takes courage. But I like him. I like him because I think he was once a werewolf and then became (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He was once a werewolf. How cool is the Flip cam. The quality of it is amazing.
All right. Ahead at the top of the hour, the Tea Party Express comes to Washington and demonstrations around the country. Details on that ahead. We'll be right back.