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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Inside Madonna's Adoption Controversy; Interview with Rose Rock and Al Sharpton

Aired October 18, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, inside Madonna's baby controversy, outcry from human rights groups about celebrity privilege and the legality of adopting a boy from Africa. She says she's just trying to save a child's life and she did it legally. Now, is she planning to adopt a girl too? We've got the latest.

And then, a Cracker Barrel customer says the restaurant discriminated against her. It turns out she's comedian Chris Rock's mom. And now, Reverend Al Sharpton is also involved. They'll tell us why they're so angry.

Meanwhile, disgraced ex-Congressman Mark Foley's attorney canceled his scheduled appearance not long before tonight's show, why?

Plus, is there a pink (INAUDIBLE) of high-ranking gay Republicans in the works?

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Good evening.

One program note, tomorrow night's special guest for the full hour, arguably the hottest politician in America, the junior senator from the State of Illinois Senator Barack Obama; Barack Obama tomorrow night.

We start tonight with the story of media queen Madonna's efforts to adopt a 13-month-old Malawian boy. His name is David Banda and his adoption has attracted international attention and front page controversy.

A coalition of human rights organizations is challenging the handling of the adoption saying Madonna has been allowed to bend or break the rules because of her celebrity. By they way, the little boy's father still alive, he placed David in an orphanage after the child's mother died due to childbirth complications.

Our guest tonight in Indianapolis, Cheryl Carter-Shotts, founder and managing director of Americans for African Adoptions, she's the adoptive mother of two African children. One of her adoptive sons works with AFAA. In Eugene, Oregon is Vickie Peterson, executive director of external affairs, Wide Horizons for Children. That organization is one of the largest non-profit adoption and child welfare agencies in the United States. Angelina Jolie adopted her daughter Zahara through Wide Horizons in Ethiopia.

In New York is Katrina Szish, contributing editor of "US Weekly." The current edition of that magazine has an article called "Mamma Drama, Madonna Brings Home Baby."

And, in London, is Paula Hancocks, CNN Correspondent, who has been covering this Madonna adoption story for us from the get-go. Paula, what is the latest?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well at this point, Larry, we know that Baby David is trying to acclimatize in the arms of Madonna here in London in her central London luxurious house, obviously a very big change for him coming from an orphanage in poverty-stricken Malawi and then coming to the wealth and the help and the luxury of one of the world's biggest superstars.

Now we have heard from Madonna herself as well. She wrote an open letter hitting back at the critics, saying she has gone through the proper channels. She has abided by the laws, both here and in Malawi, and she says that this had been going on for months before her and her film director husband Guy Ritchie went to Malawi last week.

But, inevitably there is a lot of controversy that always surrounds Madonna. There are photographers outside her house day and night at the moment. And you know what the British press is like. They are ferocious. When they get their teeth into a story they're not going to let go easily -- Larry.

KING: Cheryl Shots of Americans for African Adoptions what's your feelings on this?

CHERYL CARTER-SHOTTS, FOUNDER, AMERICANS FOR AFRICAN ADOPTIONS: It depends on what rules were followed and not followed. I pulled the adoption laws from the Library of Congress for Malawi three or four years ago and, at that time, you had to be a resident of Malawi for 18 months before you could do an adoption and remove the child out of Malawi.

I spoke with the Malawian Embassy yesterday and they confirmed for me that everything she did was very legal. When I asked if we could do adoptions in Malawi the subject really wasn't fully answered. And, when I asked about this 18-month rule they said that she had followed all rules and regulations.

KING: Vickie, if the father is happy with it and he's in a poverty situation and his wife is dead, what's the argument?

VICKY PETERSON, WIDE HORIZONS FOR CHILDREN: There really is no argument, Larry. The reality is that most children who are given up for adoption, whether it's in the United States or other countries, do have at least one living parent. In many African countries many of the children have lost both of their parents but in this particular case he has a father, a biological father and that's not unusual and it's wonderful that this child is going to get a chance at a real future that he might not have in Malawi where he's living in a very impoverished situation.

So, I really can't find any problem with Madonna adopting a child. And, in fact, it's terrific that the spotlight is on international adoptions because there are so many children in the world that need a family. And, if this is a way of drawing attention to that need it's terrific.

KING: Katrina of "US Weekly," do you understand the uproar?

KATRINA SZISH, US WEEKLY: I understand the uproar and I think it's only because it's surrounding Madonna. And, as it was mentioned earlier, everything that is related to Madonna always has something controversial connected to it.

However, I do think that the uproar is absolutely ridiculous. This is an act of benevolence. This is an act of kindness. This is an act that should inspire all of us to do good. It shouldn't inspire anybody to attack Madonna.

Even David's father himself told "US Weekly" that he is ecstatic with the adoption. David's father told the AP today that he wishes all of these human rights groups would back off. Where were they when David was in this orphanage? And now they come out when something wonderful is happening. So, I really don't think there is a controversy here.

KING: What's the feeling, Paula, in London?

HANCOCKS: Well, the feeling is split at the moment. Right at the beginning when this story first emerged there were many people saying there shouldn't be one rule for celebrity and another rule for the rest of humankind.

But then, of course, after Madonna came out with her open letter and explained that she had followed the letter of the law, there have been more and more people saying "Maybe we should just leave Madonna alone. Maybe she is trying to do a good thing."

She already has two children, so she's proved that she is a good mother. And, certainly she should be able to do something like this. She is in a position to be able to do that.

But the one thing that the human rights organizations are more concerned with, which many people in the British press who have been quoted of agreeing with as well, is that this shouldn't set a precedent to be able to fast track one particular person in adopting a child. Then that could open the door for further fast tracks, some of them maybe not so benevolent.

KING: Cheryl, what if we were to say it's not our business? It's the father's business and Madonna's business not ours. CARTER-SHOTTS: That's not quite true, Larry. There are rules and regulations that have to be followed by the British government if that child is brought into the United States by the United States government, by U.S. immigration, by U.S. embassies, by the country of Malawi.

One of the things that I would love to see is if Madonna is going to adopt a second child, a female child, I'd love for her to adopt a five or older child because when the news media reports all of these millions of orphans in Africa, the majority of those children that I've seen over the 20 years I've worked in Africa is that they're five years of age and older and frequently they are siblings.

So, I hope she does adopt a little girl and I hope it's a five or older. And, all we can do is assume that she's followed all the rules and regulations. But, as Vickie said, having one living parent who is living below the poverty standards for their country is legal.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. We'll also include your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: During this segment of the program as well, we'll be showing you pictures, exclusive photos of Madonna and Baby David. They are from the October 20th edition of "People" magazine, there you see its cover, and "US" magazine and their current edition has an article called "Mamma Drama, Madonna Brings Home Baby."

Vickie, any problems with the fact that she is an American citizen and her husband is a citizen of the U.K.? Are there different adoptive regulations?

PETERSON: Well, certainly the U.K. has different regulations from the United States. And, as Cheryl said, depending on where she's bringing that child, she'll need to meet the regulations of that country and I don't know the specifics of the Madonna situation since our agency has not been involved in that adoption.

But, I have no doubt that she will meet the requirements of whichever country she brings her child to and she may end up needing to meet requirements of both countries if she's traveling to both countries.

KING: Katrina, would you open it wide? Would you say that any citizen who has the means should be able to adopt impoverished children from countries that have poverty problems?

SZISH: Sure, any citizen should be allowed to adopt a child from countries with poverty problems. However, in this situation everybody is saying that because Madonna is a celebrity she fast-tracked and it is customary for a celebrity to be able to sidestep a few situations. And, even though it might not seem fair that is something that does happen. In some ways it did happen with this situation in that Madonna was allowed to take custody of David without being a resident of Malawi. But, at this point, we have to remember Madonna is not suddenly David's mother. Right now she's still a foster parent. The adoption will not go through for another 18 months.

But, any other citizen, just like Madonna, should be able to adopt and over 20,000 Americans a year do adopt children from outside of the United States, so it does happen.

KING: Paula, will agencies come to the United States to look at how this kid is being treated and being brought up?

HANCOCKS: Well that is what we're expecting, Larry, yes. We're expecting that there will be some agencies actually coming to the U.K. Now we don't know the exact situation whether it will be a social worker walking up to the multimillion dollar apartment that Madonna has in central London, knocking on the door.

But there are going to be rigorous checks we are hearing both from the Malawian side and also from the British side because as it has been said before there does have to be checks on both sides and they are quite rigorous checks.

And she is just having custodial rights at this point. It doesn't necessarily give it a guarantee that at the end of the 18 months she will be David Banda's adoptive mother but certainly the checks are going to be in place on both sides and both countries.

KING: Cheryl, why would anyone question the motive other than she wants to raise a child from an impoverished situation? What could possibly be bad about that?

CARTER-SHOTTS: I think possibly it was questioned because it seemed to be fast-tracked but I don't know...

KING: So what? All right, let's say it was, so what?

CARTER-SHOTTS: Well, I can tell you our phone is ringing off the wall, Larry, all week about our families saying "Why can't you speed up our process? Why can't you (INAUDIBLE)?"

KING: But I mean you're not -- that's true but you're not questioning her motives are you?

CARTER-SHOTTS: No, I'm not questioning her motives at all. I want to clarify something that was said by one of your guests a few minutes ago, which is when you say that anyone can adopt it's not really anyone.

It's someone that passes all of the clearances with a home study, with an FBI clearance for the United States, with local police clearances. There are complete dossiers reviewed in the foreign country to see if the feeling is that this is a family that can do a good job parenting a child.

KING: Vicky...

CARTER-SHOTTS: It's more rigorous to do an international adoption than it is to have your own child. I have two adopted African kids.

KING: Vicky, wouldn't you say that any couple or person wanting to adopt, if they had the ability to fast-track, would fast-track?

PETERSON: Yes, actually I think that's an accurate statement, Larry. All of us would like when we want, when we're really highly motivated to do something, usually want it to happen quickly and adoptive parents certainly fall into that category.

And so, sure, every parent would like to -- prospective parent would like to have a child come home into their family as quickly as possible but just like everyone else, celebrities do have to fulfill the requirements.

And, I don't know the specifics of Madonna's situation but I can believe that she spent many months involved in this process, as the average family does. In the United States it takes anywhere generally from eight to 15 or 16 months to do an adoption and you know and that's pretty typical.

KING: So do you think...

PETERSON: There is a lot of paperwork involved.

KING: Do you think, Katrina, that people -- Katrina, do you think people are therefore angry at the clout?

SZISH: Absolutely. I think the biggest issue here is the fact that, hey, if Madonna can do it, why can't I do it? As it was mentioned, every family now wants to say, "Well, why can't I push the fast button and make that happen?"

KING: OK and isn't that fair?

SZISH: You know...

KING: To say that?

SZISH: Of course it's fair. Again, you know, everyone does want to do something quickly, make it happen fast, that instant gratification when they want something. And, is it kind of unfair that Madonna got to do this a little bit faster than everybody else, absolutely. Are her motives wrong, are her intentions wrong, absolutely not.

What she is doing is wonderful. So, you can criticize her or you can criticize the system for allowing her to do this faster but you certainly cannot criticize the act itself.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We have a call for our panel. It's from Chicago, hello, Chicago, hello.

CALLER FROM CHICAGO: Yes hello, Larry.

KING: Hi, go ahead.

CALLER FROM CHICAGO: Yes. I want to know why are these celebrities, why don't they concentrate on adopting children in the United States? Why is it always overseas or in some exotic country when there's children here in the United States in need?

KING: Well, Vicky, you handled Angelina Jolie's adoption in Ethiopia, how do you respond to that?

PETERSON: Right. Well, actually there are a relatively small number of celebrities who adopt from other countries. It's just that there's a tremendous amount of attention that's focused on them when they do these adoptions. But most celebrities, just like the average American, does adopt, do adopt children from the United States and not from abroad.

It's wonderful for celebrities to put the spotlight of attention on the fact that there are millions of children who need families abroad. And, in other countries, there are children dying.

They don't have an education. They don't have good medical care and they don't have the attention of parents who have -- who are no longer with them. So, it's a wonderful thing when attention is brought on the fact that children need families all over the world.

KING: Paula, what's the British press reaction to all this? They go wild don't they?

HANCOCKS: They do, yes. They certainly can be ferocious on stories like this. But they do seem to be softening a little towards Madonna since we have heard that she has written that open letter saying she believes that she's followed the law itself.

And, it is interesting that there are so many sidebars in the British press now actually focusing on the problems in Malawi, focusing on the fact that there's almost one million AIDS orphans in Malawi itself. So, it has really brought that to the forefront, something that most people know.

There are a lot of AIDS orphans in Sub-Sahara and Africa itself but as many of your guests have been saying this has brought it to the forefront once again. And the British press is focusing on that.

KING: Cheryl, isn't it therefore pretty good that we now can look at conditions in a country like Malawi and see what children are being -- how they're being raised and what it's like?

CARATER-SHOTTS: I'm all for all the focus that can be brought as far as the needs in Africa. The needs are phenomenal. They're both for adoption, for humanitarian needs. We are working on an HIV/AIDS education program. Our little adoption agency sponsors orphanages for some children that are there.

There aren't enough families to adopt the children but the majority of children are not babies and toddlers. And, I'm sure Vicky agrees with me. The majority of children who have been abandoned or orphaned and have lost their relatives to HIV/AIDS are predominantly about five years of age and up. I adopted two older kids. My kids are older.

KING: Vicky, you would agree?

PETERSON: I would agree. I would say perhaps I would only go a little bit younger. I think there are children as young as three and older. There are babies but the -- I agree with Cheryl, the majority of children are three years old and older and many sibling groups need families. We need to find families who can take more than one child because we try very hard as agencies not to separate biological siblings. We also need homes -- we also need homes...

KING: Katrina, Madonna doesn't need the publicity. I'm sorry, go ahead Vicky.

PETERSON: No, I was just going to say the other group of children that we really need to find families for are children that have special needs because there are so many children who are born with even sometimes very minor problems that can't be treated in the country of their birth and brought to this country they will have a bright future and good medical care and good treatment.

CARTER-SHOTTS: Both of -- yes, both of my two (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Katrina -- Katrina, Madonna hardly needs the publicity does she?

SZISH: I think that's an excellent point, Larry. I'm glad you said that. So many people are saying, "She's just doing this as a publicity stunt. She just wants to do what Angelina Jolie did. She's just trying to get news."

Madonna is the last person probably on the planet who needs publicity. Madonna is Madonna. She is doing this simply, as we mentioned earlier, out of the goodness of her heart because she really did want a third child.

She and her husband Guy Ritchie have stated that they wanted a third child. About a year ago, Madonna learned that she couldn't have anymore children. After lots of thought, after actually consulting with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie about their adoptions, Madonna and Guy started to initiate the process to adopt a child.

And, speaking of orphaned children who are toddlers, three and above, today we learned that Madonna is thinking of adopting a second baby and she's thinking of a 3-year-old girl who she did meet when in Malawi, so she definitely is doing the right thing here.

KING: Cheryl, is it difficult dealing with an interracial adoption?

CARTER-SHOTTS: Not at all. My children are from Ethiopia and Mali, West Africa. My son is an Arab. And, it's been a joy. It's been easy and they were both special needs kids. My daughter is now in the U.S. Air Force. She's an air traffic controller because she felt she owed America.

KING: Wow.

CARTER-SHOTTS: My son just flew in this morning with bringing three children in from Ethiopia for two new families, so he works with me.

KING: Great. Thank you all, Cheryl Carter-Shotts, Vicky Peterson, Katrina Szish, and Paula Hancocks of CNN on staying on top of this intriguing story out of Malawi, Great Britain, and the United States.

We'll take a break.

And when we come back the Reverend Al Sharpton and Rose Rock, the mother of Chris Rock, and the difficulties that Ms. Rock seems to have faced at a Cracker Barrel restaurant; all that ahead, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now from Charleston, South Carolina, is Rose Rock, the mother of comedian Chris Rock, who alleges that she and her daughter were racially discriminated against at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in South Carolina, plans to sue. Reverend Al Sharpton also with her is civil rights activist, of course. And he says his action network will finance the lawsuit against the CBRL Group, which owns Cracker Barrel. Rose, when did this happen?

ROSE ROCK, MOTHER OF CHRIS ROCK: It happened on May 16th. It was two days after Mother's Day.

KING: And Cracker Barrel located where?

ROCK: In Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

KING: And what time of day? What, were you going in for lunch or what?

ROCK: No, it was like a late lunch, early dinner. We went in at approximately 4:26.

KING: What happened?

ROCK: Well, nothing happened. We went in. We were seated. We sat there. We were talking, catching up because my daughter is away at school. And the time was slipping away and all of a sudden we looked around and we realized that we hadn't -- no one had taken a drink order or had come to our table at all.

KING: Did you beckon for service, wave your hand, ask for somebody to come over?

ROCK: No, I didn't. I looked around the room to just see what was going on. And I realized that people that came in after us were actually eating and the people that came in with us had been served. And I, you know, I couldn't believe it for a minute. So I did -- I sat there. I didn't wave or anything. And we sat for about two or three more minutes and then we left. Well, we didn't leave. I mean, I got up and I went to find a manager.

KING: And what did he say?

ROCK: Well, the manager said that -- well, he really didn't say anything had happened. He just said, well, I'm sorry. I don't know what happened. And he asked us to go back and be seated and have a meal.

At that time, I thought what he should have done was find out who was working our area and bring that person over to find out just what had happened. How could two people be missed, you know, in a full restaurant.

KING: Did you notice if other black patrons were in the restaurant?

ROCK: That's the reason. There were no other black people so they couldn't miss us. I mean, we kind of stick out a little bit.

KING: Well since the manager said though, he was sorry and would serve you a meal, why didn't you just accept that?

ROCK: We had been sitting there over half an hour. Why weren't we served? Why should I go back and get a free meal when we were obviously overlooked?

KING: Al, how did you get involved?

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, I was called by Mrs. Rock. She called us at National Action Network. She had made a complaint. What really got us sort of interested about this, she made a complaint immediately after it happened to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.

And for four months heard nothing from them, has heard nothing from Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel had to go into an agreement on solving a discrimination lawsuit just two years ago with the Justice Department. So this, when she called me, was along the same patterns that we had monitored just a couple years ago.

KING: Just to set it straight, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, Jesse Washington of that commission, says, "Mrs. Rock's complaint on the matter was finalized on August 7th, and is now being investigated." He said, "We get thousands of...

SHARPTON: She has not heard from them.

KING: I'm quoting here. SHARPTON: But Larry, she has not heard from them.

KING: Let me quote what he said.

SHARPTON: I understand that. But what I'm saying is -- OK.

KING: Let me quote. "We get thousands...

ROCK: But I never heard anything.

KING: I'm trying to tell you what he said. "We get thousands of charges coming through here in the course of a year. It's not out of line. The time frame on this is being investigated and we'll be in touch with her when we have a report."

You don't accept that?

SHARPTON: Well, obviously not. When she called me and she is here speaking for herself, she could not even get a return phone call from them. She could not get a return phone call from anyone.

So we said that clearly in four months you should have a number to your investigation and your complaint, clearly someone should have come out and done some preliminary interview. Cracker Barrel has not sent someone out.

Now all of a sudden we came into this matter and announced it yesterday, we're getting all kind of press releases and no one talking to her. And again, against a company who has already had to settle several lawsuits.

KING: Concerning that, we have a statement. "Cracker Barrel has in the past faced numerous lawsuits." This is from them. "And a federal inquiry, all the complaints refusing to serve black customers, discriminating against minority workers and firing gay employees. The company has taken steps to rebuild its folksy image and reach out to minorities."

Do you accept that, Al?

SHARPTON: I think that, again, when Mrs. Rock went public on her radio show down here and then went on my syndicated show on Syndication One, we've gotten scores of calls from people saying they suffered the similar problem.

We would not be talking about a lawsuit if we didn't think the pattern continued. And I think that Cracker Barrel should have released this information or at least had a conversation with her way before now. This happened in May. She never reached out to us until a week ago. I think that they're trying to do spin rather than really live up to the agreements they have made with the Justice Department.

KING: We have a statement from Cracker Barrel from Diana Wynne, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. It's a little empty, but let me get into it. Here are some key excerpts. "Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is committed to treating all people with courtesy and respect and our policies and procedures clearly outline that discrimination has no place in our company. Mrs. Rose Rock has been a regular visitor to our store over the years. We still consider her a valued guest. She herself said at her press conference this morning that she was surprised by this incident because she has always had good experiences at Cracker Barrel.

In regard to Mrs. Rock's recent visit, please know this was not a case of discrimination. Our preliminary investigation shows that she was simply an honest mistake in operations as we were getting ready for the dinner hour and shifting personnel. Her table was simply not reassigned.

We regret this mistake and have repeatedly tried to make amends. When the store manager realized there was a problem, he apologized, offered to personally expedite her order. She refused. Store management followed up within a week sending a formal letter of apology, a gift basket and passes for complimentary meals. We believe this demonstrates our deep commitment to good customer service."

Why can't that put it away, Al?

SHARPTON: Larry, how do you do a preliminary investigation when Cracker Barrel nor the state has interviewed Ms. Rock or her daughter and neither of them have even requested this? The preliminary investigation they did was having a PR meeting to decide how to handle our press conference. Has anyone interviewed you, Ms. Rock?

ROCK: No.

SHARPTON: So how do you investigate if you don't talk to the people that were involved. They talked to the people that did it and that's an investigation?

ROCK: No one interviewed me.

KING: Rose, are you a regular customer at Cracker Barrel?

ROCK: Yes. What I would do would go there and have breakfast after the gym.

KING: Isn't it possible...

ROCK: ... So I was a regular customer.

KING: Isn't it possible at 4:30 in the afternoon they are changing service, waitresses coming in and out, different people going, that a goof occurred? Isn't that possible?

ROCK: Well, you know what, it seems to so strange that if they were changing tables -- I mean, changing people that only one table got overlooked? Only one table was overlooked.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll be right back with Rose Rock and Reverend Al Sharpton on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Al Sharpton, what are you seeking in the lawsuit?

SHARPTON: I think what -- we are certainly not seeking money. We'll be seeking for them to show how they will enforce the agreed pattern of fairness, how they will make sure their employee do not engage in discrimination, and examine, have they abided by the agreement they made just two years ago with the Justice Department.

That is our concern more than a meal or an incident, the fact that this went for months without my redress. The fact that it has gone and no one has said, this is the policy, this is how it will be enforced. This is what has led for our becoming involved from our National Action Network point of view, and other allied civil rights groups, and I think that's our concern, that we have a policy of fairness by the private sector, particularly those that are repeat offenders, as Cracker Barrel admittedly is.

KING: Rose, what does your son Chris think of this?

ROCK: Yes, that's the question everyone has asked me. And this is not about Chris. This is about me. I have not spoken to him about this at all.

KING: Why not?

ROCK: This is about something that happened to me and my daughter. And the only reason I did it, my daughter used one word to me, that she was hurt. If she had not said that her feelings were hurt, I would have probably walked away yet again, like I've been doing over a lot of things since I moved to South Carolina.

KING: Why not talk to him, though, as a member of the family? Wouldn't you want just input? Wouldn't he be interested?

ROCK: Well, right now he's so busy and, like I said, I just did not talk to any of any of my boys other than the ones that are close to me, you know, in proximity. I did not call him.

KING: Rose, do you believe Cracker Barrel is racist?

ROCK: Yes, I do.

KING: As an organization?

ROCK: Yes, I certainly do.

KING: Do blacks work there?

ROCK: Excuse me?

KING: Do blacks work for them?

ROCK: There are a few there. They're not that many, but there are a few there.

That does not have anything to do with it. I've worked places -- I grew up in the South. So I know what it's like to have to work in a very racist environment.

KING: I thought this went out, Al, years ago? I thought it went out with Denny's.

ROCK: Oh, please.

SHARPTON: I thought it did, too. And I think, again, what we must examine here is whether procedures are in place, if someone like Mrs. Rock can four months later, not even be interviewed, not even be questioned, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission not question her -- Our position is even if there had been an investigation or discussion, and they came back and said they didn't agree there was merit, or even if Cracker Barrel had done the same, there was not merit. One can see that. But just to kind of ignore people, and then when people start calling in, saying the same happened to me, this sounds like more of the same. And we're not talking about the '60s. We're talking about this agreement was just two years ago.

ROCK: Yes.

KING: Thank you. Rose Rock and Reverend Al Sharpton.

Thank you very much. Hope everything works out.

ROCK: Thank you.

KING: Still coming up, we'll be talking about the aftermath of the Foley situation, as it affects the total gay picture in this country.

But right now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper, who will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour.

Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Larry, tonight after a day that brought news of 11 more American fatalities in Iraq, a sober assessment at where things go from here, and a shocking look at the reality of what U.S. troops are up against.

Exclusive video that is tough to watch, but we think vital to see of American forces being hunted and killed by enemy snipers. It is a growing threat. We will talk to an American sniper about what U.S. troops are doing to protect themselves.

And today President Bush said Iraq may be at a turning point. He compared it to Vietnam in some ways. We'll look at what happens if Iraq slips into a full blown civil war, and what role our U.S. forces should play if it does.

Larry, that's at the top of the hour.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper, "AC 360" at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The civil attorney for Congressman Foley was due to be our guest tonight. He had to cancel, and he explained to me on the phone late this afternoon that he has filed papers with the state's attorney's office, and he did not want to come on and discuss something before the state's attorney had had the chance to read it, that that would not be quite in concept with good practices of law. He will be rescheduled.

Andrew Sullivan is in Washington, columnist and commentator, he blogs on the Internet at andrewsullivan.com. He's author of "The Conservative Soul: How we lost it, How to Get it Back". And he's openly gay.

Patrick Sammon is executive vice president of Log Cabin Republicans. He's in Washington, too. The Log Cabin Republicans is a national grassroots organization of gay and lesbian Republicans.

Here in Los Angeles, John MacArthur, a evangelical Christian, Pastor-Teacher of the Grace Community Church, author and host of "Grace to You" and president of the Master's College, founder of the Master's Seminary.

And Reverend Louis P. Sheldon, good to see him again, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition and author of "The Agenda: the Homosexual Plan to Change America".

Has this Foley scandal, Andrew Sullivan, in your opinion extended into a pink purge, a potential effort to get rid of gay Republicans on Capitol Hill?

ANDREW SULLIVAN, AUTHOR, "THE CONSERVATIVE SOUL": Well, I hope not. I think conservatism, as a political philosophy, can attract all sorts of people, black and white, gay and straight, male and female, as long as you stick to principles of small government and balanced budgets, a "leave us alone" coalition.

It's when it starts being intolerant that these cracks begin to appear. I don't think this issue will dent the presence of gay people in the Republican party or the Democratic party.

KING: Patrick Sammon, as a member -- and longstanding -- of Republicans, the Log Cabin Republicans, do you think there's a pink purge?

PATRICK SAMMON, EXEC. V.P., LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: No, absolutely not. There are hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Americans who are good, loyal Republicans, and they have a place in this party. The party, in the future, is going to continue becoming more inclusive on gay and lesbian issues, and this situation won't change that. Mark Foley's behavior was shameful and despicable, but it had nothing to do with sexual orientation. KING: Patrick, why would a gay be a Republican?

SAMMON: Well, Larry, because I don't believe government is the solution to every problem. I believe in maximizing personal freedom and I think you do that best when government is most limited. I believe in low taxes and less regulation, and a strong national defense and aggressive war on terror.

So the values in the Republican party fit my political ideology, but at the same time, I understand the party isn't where it needs to be on gay and lesbian issues. And I think it's important to have people working from inside the party to make it better.

KING: John MacArthur, as an evangelical Christian, how do you look at all this?

JOHN MACARTHUR, PASTOR, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Well, I think Jesus put it simply when he said, "My kingdom is not of this world." And I think what happens in the Republican party or the Democratic party or the United States Congress, the United States government is really irrelevant to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

The message of Jesus is to go unto under all the world to make disciples, not make Republicans. and I think our message is a message that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins and death Hell. And that is the message. And evangelicals have convoluted message, sublimated that message to a political agenda, they have missed the point.

And in many ways we have turned the mission field into the enemy. Homosexuals are not our enemy. They are our mission field, like any other or all other sinners are.

KING: Reverend Sheldon, I gather you differ?

REV. LOUIS P. SHELDON, CHAIRMAN, TRADITIONAL VALUES COALITION: Well, it's very clear that when America was founded, the Pilgrims had the Mayflower Compact. And the Mayflower Compact, Larry, closes with four major points, and the last major point, the fourth one, says, "We now the undersigned declare that we are the body politic." So from the very beginning of America, in 1620, when they set sail, they talked about -- they needed to have a government that was of the people, by the people and for the people.

KING: So?

SHELDON: Now, that -- so when Washington gave his Farewell Address in 1796, he clearly stated, of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, there's two indispensable supports for political prosperity. He said religion and morality. And it's clearly what even John Adams said.

KING: That's their opinion as individuals, right?

SHELDON: No. It was more than their opinion. That was the consensus in the founding of America. KING: Are you saying that gay is immoral?

MACARTHUR: Well, there's no question that you can't enter the Kingdom of God, as my dear friend here just said, you can't enter the Kingdom of God if you have -- if you're practicing homosexuality. Now, remember, homosexuality is not genetic. God didn't give it to you. It was caused by something else.

KING: But you don't know what caused it, do you?

SHELDON: Well we do know this?

KING: You do?

SHELDON: That molestation is a major contribution.

KING: Andrew?

SHELDON: And Mark Foley already said that he was molested and that's why -- my heart goes out to Mark. He needs help. He can be delivered.

KING: Andrew, how do you respond to that?

SULLIVAN: Well, I was never molested, and I'm a gay person and I think I'm a perfectly grown-up adult human being, able to deal with other people on a rational basis. And I think politics, I agree with the reverend, the former reverend, that politics is not about the Kingdom of God. Politics is about government, restraining government, limiting it, keeping taxes low and keeping defense strong.

And so gay people and straight people can all unite in both Democratic party and the Republican party around different principles. I don't see what the issue is here. I don't see how why...

KING: Hold on. Lou first.

SHELDON: There is a definite issue. The issue is this big tent. There is a dark corner in this big tent, Andrew. And in that dark corner, young children are not really safe and secure. And we have to...

KING: From homosexuals, is that what you're saying?

SHELDON: Clearly, because homosexuality is a...

KING: You mean there are no heterosexuals who bother young children?

SAMMON: You know what, Reverend Sheldon...

SHELDON: Let me finish my point. The point is this, that not all homosexuals go after children.

KING: Of course.

SHELDON: But definitely a certain degree of them do.

KING: A certain degree of heterosexuals.

SAMMON: That's simply...

SHELDON: That is correct. We'll arrest them, too, and through them out of Congress like the...

KING: OK.

SAMMON: Reverend Sheldon is trying to distort facts and spread false stereotypes and he should be ashamed. The unfortunate thing...

SHELDON: I'm not ashamed of what I said.

SAMMON: You should be because...

SHELDON: I am not. I spoke the truth.

SAMMON: You're preaching a divisive agenda that will divide the party. I'm a miraculous creation of God and I know God loves me and accepts me for who I am.

SHELDON: What's the Bible say about your lifestyle?

SAMMON: He loves me.

SHELDON: What does the Bible say about your lifestyle?

SAMMON: God created me the way I am. I didn't choose to be gay.

SHELDON: No, no.

SAMMON: I know he loves me.

SHELDON: He created male and female.

SULLIVAN: Reverend, the Bible is not about -- the politics is not about the Bible. We have to live in a country where there are believers and unbelievers, atheists and Christians, Jews and Muslims. We have to have something in common apart from the Bible and religion.

KING: Should this be a political -- should the Bible be involved in a political dispute?

MACARTHUR: Well, we're talking about two things here. On the one hand, we're talking about who can be or not be in the Republican party. So just exactly which sinners are we going to exclude? Which ones? Are we going to throw out all the people who have been unfaithful to their wife? All the people who have cheated on their income tax? All the people who have falsified their reports, their expense reports? Are we going to take out all the people who watch pornography, broken any other kind of law? Just exactly where do we go with this morality thing? We're not going to have anybody in any party because we're all sinners. That's one issue. We're talking about party politics, and you can pick your party in America. You pay your taxes and you're an American citizen.

SULLIVAN: That's the Christian view, it seems to me. That's the authentic Christian view, that politics and religion are different. And if you keep them apart, it's best for both of them. And the next generation, Larry, is going to treat this as a nonissue. This is -- gays and lesbians...

KING: I got to get a break guys, we'll come right back.

This deserves full show. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Again, we promise to focus a lot more on this in limited time. We have an e-mail question from Jenny in Chicago. "Why do so many Republicans seem repulsed by the gay lifestyle?"

MACARTHUR: And the answer to that is because the Bible clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.

KING: But it says thievery is a sin.

MACARTHUR: Well, sure. Thievery's a sin. A lot of sin. Fornication is a sin. Adultery is a sin.

KING: So why pick that one out?

MACARTHUR: I think there's an element of it that is so apparently abnormal, that is so perverse. The Bible always presents it as the end of the perversion line. You go from there to bestiality. Look at Romans Chapter 1, you start out with sexual immorality, then a society declines to...

(CROSSTALK)

SAMMON: Reverend, as a Catholic, I'm really offended listening to you. You're so busy looking for specific words in the Bible that you actually miss the message of the Gospel. We're supposed to love each other and love ourselves and love each other. And you're really missing the core mission of the Gospel.

MACARTHUR: Well, let me tell you this, that I have no problem loving you. I have no problem expressing that love to you, and my message of love to you as a friend who cares about you, is that, if you are a homosexual, Jesus Christ can forgive that sin just like he forgave all my sins, and he can forgive you and give you eternal life in heaven through his death and resurrection. And that's the message of the Gospel.

SULLIVAN: There are many things that Jesus needs to forgive me for, but being gay isn't one of them. It's the way he created me.

MACARTHUR: Well, it is according to the Bible.

SULLIVAN: Now I'm a sinner in many ways, but I know what I chose and what I didn't choose. KING: Lou Sheldon, we're running out of time.

Wouldn't a loving God take anyone in?

SHELDON: A loving God will take anyone in who will confess their sin and repent of their sin and allow themself to be converted by the power of his Holy Spirit. That exactly, Larry. In other words, it isn't just a kind of a deal where you can be at our standard and at our level. We have to come to God...

KING: And you are the judge?

SHELDON: No. No. I'm a messenger of it, not the judge.

SULLIVAN: We actually want to live up to that standard and we want to actually have the right to marry each other, to commit to each in fidelity and responsibility. And when we actually ask to ask all of your values, you say no.

KING: We're out of time, we're out of time. I promise we're going to do more.

We thank you all for coming.

MACARTHUR: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Good to be with you, too.

SAMMON: Bye-bye, Andrew.

KING: We're out of time.

Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, maybe the hottest politician in America is our special guest tomorrow night for the full hour.

Right now, for more than an hour, we go to Anderson Cooper in New York with "AC 360" -- Anderson.

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