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CNN NEWSROOM

Floods Sweep Across Midwest; Snowed Under: Storm Hits Upper Midwest; Doing the Primary Math; Hidden Airline Fees; Sex for Green Card?; Eight-Year-Old Shares Pointers for Getting a Girl

Aired March 22, 2008 - 10:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sex or citizenship? Shocking allegations of an immigration agent abusing his authority and demanding sex in exchange for a green card.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Things are coming down this morning. You know you love it. Well, OK, we love it, and we hope you do, too. But we'll tell you about this implosion in Cincinnati.

Also, got this coming up...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Talk about a happy reunion. How precious.

We're going to tell you about the lengths that this soldier had to go through just to surprise his little birthday girl. A great story.

Good morning, everybody. From the CNN Center, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It is Saturday, March 22nd.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes.

We want to get started this morning with some weather, severe weather hitting the Midwest. Here's what we're watching right now.

Dangerous flooding in the Midwest. The worst of it in Missouri. Thousands have been forced from their homes. Towns under water and now a major highway could be next.

NGUYEN: All right. But a little farther north, snow is the story there. Milwaukee, Chicago, both battered by severe weather. Thousands of flights were canceled in both cities.

HOLMES: But again, like we said, Missouri probably the hardest hit by the floods. Rivers there overflowing their banks, some reaching as high as 20 feet over flood stage.

CNN Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras joins us now from Pacific, Missouri, where there's been a mix of good news and bad news.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, exactly, T.J.

You know, the good news -- we'll start there -- is that the river crested overnight, so it reached its highest point, and it's starting to recede. But the bad news is, you can see there's still water everywhere, and the effort isn't over yet.

You can see these guys behind me still pumping water out of the Osage (ph) Realty building, trying to prevent it from getting in the house. So far, it hasn't gotten a drop inside, but they're working on pumping it from outside.

Now, just to give you an idea here where I'm standing, as I walk up the roadway here, this was not drivable yesterday. This part of the street used to look like that, and I was in a boat right here yesterday. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERAS (voice over): Boating is the only mode of transportation here in downtown Pacific. We caught a ride with the Coast Guard patrolling the flood zone, encouraging residents to get out. The Merrimack River is filling the streets and engulfing homes.

JOSH LAKER, U.S. COAST GUARD: Besides Katrina, this is the biggest one I've seen around here.

JERAS (on camera): Most of the people have left this area. About 500 have voluntarily evacuated, though there is one man that's holding out.

(voice over): Above the murky water comes the smell of barbecue.

(on camera): What are you cooking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barbecued ribs.

JERAS: James Nance's (ph) home is the only one in the area built after the record floods of 1982. He's confident he'll stay dry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life goes on flood or not, I guess.

JERAS: While rescue workers want them out, legally they can't make them leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're out there trying to help people, and if they want to stay, that's their right, they can stay.

JERAS: Down the street, around the corner in the business district, Dave McCue (ph) is pumping water out of the sub floor of his Great Pacific Coffee Company. The historic building was constructed by his great grandfather 100 years ago. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got people just coming in from all over to help out. It's awe-inspiring, when you see that kind of township come together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JERAS: And speaking of awe-inspiring, another tale just like that. Here's Osage (ph) Realty building. More than 100 people helped these guys pack 10,000 sandbags. Yes, there's 10,000 sandbags surrounding this building, and they say they feel just overwhelmed with the kind of help that they've been receiving.

Now, this is not an isolated incident, what's going on here in Pacific. We've got flooding also downstream, Eureka. That town was threatened as well. It looks like most of the downtown area there has been spared, but we're also watching a levee in Valley Park downstream.

That river there is about to crest in the next upcoming hours, and there had been a few leaks in the levee. So the Coast Guard has been very concerned about a potential breach.

Interstate 44, a huge thoroughfare. Thousands of people drive along that. Of course, the holiday weekend with Easter upcoming tomorrow. Several lanes have been closed on I-44, and they've been threatening to close it down altogether. We'll have to wait and see as the waters get closer and closer.

But officials are just warning people to stay out of the area, if they can. Don't come out and assess the damage, don't come and take your pictures. Just wait until those waters go in their banks, and that will gradually happen over the next couple of days -- T.J.

HOLMES: And Jacqui, we will see if people follow that advice. As we know, and I'm sure you've seen, people not always following that advice.

JERAS: Not so much.

HOLMES: Jacqui Jeras for us there.

We appreciate you this morning, Jacqui.

NGUYEN: Well, from those floodwaters to snow in the upper Midwest, it is causing trouble for travelers today. Chicago's O'Hare airport, well, it is back open this morning, but the airport in Milwaukee is scheduled to reopen at 10:00 a.m. local time.

The spring snowstorm, though, that rolled across the upper Midwest, it caused more than 450 flight cancellations at O'Hare. More than a foot of snow in parts of southern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota, that caused dangerous driving conditions, as you see there. Dozens of Wisconsin churches just canceled Good Friday services because of all the bad weather.

(WEATHER REPORT) HOLMES: We'll get more on the snow there now. Heather Shannon with our affiliate WTMJ, she joins us now from Milwaukee.

How are you guys doing, Heather?

HEATHER SHANNON, REPORTER, WTMJ: Well, we were wishing it felt a little bit more like Easter up here. Instead, it definitely feels like the Christmas season. I'm going to show you what I'm talking about.

I am standing in the middle of a road right now, and look at how much snow is still here. Yesterday, some areas of southeastern Wisconsin, the suburbs of Milwaukee, got over 15 inches of snow. That's obviously a record for this time of the year. And this is putting us at the second snowiest winter in Wisconsin history.

And although, you know, you live here, you do expect it to snow, you do not expect it to snow this much, this late in the season. So the airport is delayed. Roads here, main roads are looking fine, but the side roads haven't even been plowed yet.

Holiday travelers are stuck. They can't get out of Wisconsin. Most people here try to leave here this time of year, and they just -- they can't get out.

And that's the problems facing southeastern Wisconsin right now up here. Back to you guys in the studio.

HOLMES: All right. We're looking at some of that video. It looks like you will have a mess on your hands there. We hope everybody makes it all right for Easter.

Heather Shannon with WTMJ.

We appreciate you this morning.

NGUYEN: Let's talk about this now -- snooping into passport files. A congressional committee is gearing up to investigate, especially since it turns out the records of all three presidential candidates were improperly viewed, not just Senator Barack Obama's. The State Department says a trainee got into Senator Hillary Clinton's file last summer, and a contractor disciplined for viewing Obama's passport records also viewed Senator John McCain's, too.

Now, two contractors have been fired, while a third has been disciplined. And the trainee? Well, that person still on the job.

HOLMES: And would you believe we got a bit of a lull on the campaign trail today with the Pennsylvania primary still about a month away. Republican John McCain wrapping up his overseas tour. He returns tomorrow from his trip to Europe and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton at home in New York. She has no public events planned today.

Barack Obama, meantime, out campaigning. He holds a rally in Oregon. The Oregon primary is May 20th.

NGUYEN: Well, the race between Clinton and Obama a duel for delegates and a fight for the popular vote.

Senior Political Correspondent Bill Schneider is part of the best political team on television. He's with the CNN Election Express in Philadelphia this morning.

Coming down to those delegates. How's this going to shake out? Any idea, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let's take a look at the road ahead in the Democratic race. And for that, we need a roadmap.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice over): Right now, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in both pledged delegates and popular votes. Can Clinton overtake Obama's lead in pledged delegates? She would need to win about two-thirds of the pledged delegates in the remaining contests to do that. That will be tough.

Can she overtake Obama's lead in popular votes? In the primaries and caucuses to date, Obama has gotten about 700,000 more popular votes than Clinton. We estimate that about six million more people are likely to vote. To overcome Obama's lead, Clinton would have to get 56 percent of those votes. How tough will that be?

In the 28 primaries in February and March, when the Democratic contest became a two-candidate race, Clinton has averaged 46 percent. She's gotten 56 percent or more in only four states -- Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and her current and former home states, New York and Arkansas. The next state to vote is Pennsylvania, where our poll of polls shows Clinton leading Obama by 13 points. If you just look at decided voters, Clinton gets just over 56 percent.

West Virginia and Kentucky are heavily rural states with a lot of lower-income voters, also good for Clinton. Indiana looks like more of a battleground. Many Indiana voters are in the Chicago media market.

North Carolina, with its large African-American population and a lot of upscale voters, is Obama's most promising state. Obama also ought to do well in Oregon, which has a lot of affluent Democrats. Obama has generally done well in western states where the traditional Democratic base is small, like Montana and South Dakota.

The outlook is for Clinton and Obama to split the remaining states. Can Clinton get 56 percent of the vote? That's a tall order.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Now, if Michigan and Florida were somehow to redo their primaries, she would still need to carry 53 percent of the remaining voters, and even that won't be easy, because she's gotten at least 53 percent in only eight out of 28 primaries since Super Tuesday. The ultimate decision, of course, rests with the superdelegates, but they're going to pay a lot of attention to which candidate is ahead in the popular vote and in pledged delegates -- Betty.

NGUYEN: But even if they do that, though, Bill, they still can vote any way they want, right? There's no rule about it.

SCHNEIDER: There is no rule for the superdelegates. They are not bound by any commitment. Many of them said they're going to vote the way their state or district voted. But in the end, the expectation is that they are not going to reverse the will of the people, assuming the will of the people is clear. So far, Barack Obama's ahead, but it could be very close.

NGUYEN: It is very close. So that's where we're trying to find some clarity here.

Bill Schneider joining us live.

As always, we do appreciate it, Bill.

And as many people know -- and if you don't -- he is a member of the best political team on television, and you can catch them all afternoon. CNN's "Ballot Bowl" brings you live coverage of the presidential candidates' events.

"Ballot Bowl," today, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

HOLMES: Also coming up, does age matter in the Democratic presidential campaign? What do the candidates say? Our Josh Levs, Mr. Realty himself, has a reality check coming your way in about 25 minutes.

NGUYEN: That and much more ahead, including a bold break-in, yes, caught on tape. But this isn't a convenient store. It is a gun store. What did the robbers get away with? We'll tell you.

Also, the hidden costs of flying. Airlines looking to make up for higher fuel costs, and you are paying the price.

Also...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of girls don't really like boys, you know, because they think boys are silly and obnoxious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Yes, they do, so...

HOLMES: There's that.

NGUYEN: Yes, then there's that. And that's why a lot of relationships just simply don't work. So, do you want to improve your love life? We have got expert advice, folks -- yes -- and it's from an 8-year-old.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

NGUYEN: Let's talk about the high price of oil. It's also hitting airlines where it hurts, and, of course, they are passing on the pain to their customers. That being you.

CNN's Veronica de la Cruz gets the 411 on what fees to watch out for when you're on the go.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Airlines are making passengers pay the price for the high cost of jet fuel.

STEPHANIE OSWALD, EDITOR, "TRAVELGIRL": This is all in response to the fact that it's costing them more money to operate. They're trying to pass that on to the traveler, and this is everything from charging for seat options to charging for excess baggage.

DE LA CRUZ: Jacking on fees lets the airlines make more money, while their advertise fares can still look low.

OSWALD: Some airlines have announced that you are only going to be allowed one bag to check on the plane. You'll be charged for that second bag.

DE LA CRUZ: And don't be surprised if you have to pay for curbside baggage check-in. Also, have that credit card handy if you plan to make changes to your frequent flier ticket.

OSWALD: If you decide not to take the trip, now it's $50 to $100 for you to redeposit those miles.

DE LA CRUZ: Oswald says the best way to avoid these fees is look before you book. Reading the fine print could save you money.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Well, the slumping economy is affecting you in more ways than you know. Check out cnnmoney.com's special report, "ISSUE #1," from protecting your money to finding a job that is right for you. There is a ton of information that could save you some money.

It's "ISSUE #1." It's at noon Eastern all next week.

Plus, we have interactive tools and a lot more for you. All you have to do is go to cnnmoney.com.

HOLMES: Well, coming up here, offering a second chance to those who need it most. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT SILVERMAN, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: We go into the jails, introduce ourselves to inmates, and then when they transition out, we like to actually pick them up and bring them into our program and put them in our housing.

NGUYEN: And here's the thing -- it's working. This CNN hero will inspire you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, today's CNN hero is a man who hit rock bottom, almost killing himself, but managed not only to turn his life around, but also the lives of thousands of others.

NGUYEN: Two out of three of California's released inmates are back behind bars within three years, but not on Scott Silverman's watch. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SILVERMAN: When you are ready to say good-bye to the world, that is a clear bottom. I didn't think of myself as depressed. My drinking at the end got so bad, I felt my life was over.

The window's open, it's the 44th floor. I'm thinking, you know what, if I could just push myself back, the pain would be over.

And this guy walks in his office and says, "Scott, what are you doing?" And I started to cry. And the next day I checked into a treatment center. And everything after that was sobriety.

I got into volunteerism quickly and I hung out with people who were now in shelters, had lost their homes, had come out of jail, and they couldn't find a job. I had to find a way to help people get back on track.

My name is Scott Silverman. Every day I offer anyone who wants one a second chance.

Second Chance was started to provide jobs and housing for the chronically unemployed. We help get them placed and we follow them up for two years, because we know what they're trying to do takes time. We go into the jails, introduce ourselves to inmates, and then when they transition out, we like to actually pick them up and bring them into our program and put them in our housing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been in prison four times, my longest time was five years. I was inside and I found a flyer. I waved to my home boys and went to sleep to read it.

I didn't know what was going to be different, but I got there and I was, like, wow, I almost feel like I know these people, because they were there. They were just like me. And that's what kept me there. Thanks to Second Chance, I know I'm going to make it in life because I believe in myself more than ever.

(APPLAUSE)

SILVERMAN: We think we have a model to stop recivitism as we know it. Tell me no, I dare you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: That's a way to approach a problem -- "Tell me no, I dare you." And then you find a solution.

HOLMES: And we've got another hero -- we're doing a series of heroes again.

NGUYEN: I love these.

HOLMES: We're getting the stories now, and then we'll see them at the end of the year, but that's another one of the fine heroes we have.

Well, another story here we're keeping an eye on, sex for citizenship. Yes, shocking allegations of an immigration agent abusing his authority and demanding, yes, sex for a green card. We'll have that story straight ahead.

Sorry to have to head in to you with that, Josh, but good morning to you, sir.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you guys, too.

What role does age play in the Democratic race, and what role should it play? Bill Richardson brought up the idea of generations in his endorsement yesterday of Barack Obama. Your chance to weigh in on this idea, coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: Well we do have to turn to this story now, unfortunately, a story about sex for a green card.

NGUYEN: A federal immigration agent, mind you, faces felony charges for allegedly demanding and receiving sex from a Colombian woman in exchange for a green card.

HOLMES: And our Jim Acosta has the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how hundreds of thousands of immigrants entering the United States normally get their green cards. They take a number. But investigators say this man, Isaac Baichu, a federal immigration official who interviews green card applicants, had other ideas. Last December, authorities say Baichu met with a woman from Colombia and her new American husband to go over her application at this Long Island immigration office. That's when Baichu allegedly asked for her cell phone number.

According to local prosecutors, Baichu later called the woman and asked her to meet him here in the parking lot of this diner. What Baichu did not know is she was recording the conversation on her cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. Just tell me we're going to be friends, or...?

ISAAC BAICHU, FEDERAL IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL: Be friends. I want sex. One or two times. That's all. You get your green card. You won't have to see me anymore.

ACOSTA: What prosecutors allege happen next is detailed in the criminal complaint. The woman told prosecutors she attempted to leave the car, but that Baichu grabbed her by the arm and told her he expected her to perform oral sex upon him then and there.

She says she gave into his demands, prosecutors say, due to his position of authority.

BAICHU: I'm a nice guy. I'm a honest guy. I'll do it for you. I'll order my green cards. You're nice to me, I'll be nice to you. All right? Don't worry. Just lean over. I'm going to be one second.

ACOSTA: At that moment, the recording, obtained by "The New York Times," goes silent.

SALLY ATTIA, BAICHU'S LAWYER: We have pled not guilty, and we deny any wrongdoing.

ACOSTA: Baichu's lawyer, Sally Attia, claims her client was entrapped and that the woman wanted something called a U-visa, which offers temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who are the victims of a crime.

ATTIA: My understanding now is the alleged victim in this case is eligible to apply for this visa.

ACOSTA: Baichu is not the first official accused of taking advantage of the undocumented. This ICE agent in Miami is scheduled to stand trial on charges he raped a woman in his custody.

In 2006, this former high-level immigration official testified before Congress on what he described as rampant description in the agency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charges including soliciting sex for citizenship. ACOSTA: The Department of Homeland Security released this statement: "U.S. citizenship and immigration services has absolutely no tolerance for employee misconduct."

Isaac Baichu himself, an immigrant from Guyana, knows a green card is gold.

BAICHU: I got my green card just like you. I became citizen just like you. I know how hard it is for you, OK?

ACOSTA (on camera): Earlier this month, prosecutors say Baichu was arrested after he once again allegedly propositioned that Colombian woman for sex. That time, prosecutors say, they were listening in, too.

Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: I'm just floored.

HOLMES: Wow.

NGUYEN: I am floored by that story. And it's outrageous!

HOLMES: Just hearing that recording certainly puts another level of ickiness to that story. But again, supposed to be two sides there. He's claiming entrapment. We will see how that works out.

NGUYEN: Well, you do have to, I guess, to an extent, agree with the woman in the piece who said the person who reported that was very brave in the fact that, you know, she went to those lengths, but that's really what's going to be key evidence, I imagine, in this case.

HOLMES: A vulnerable group, like you said. They're at the mercy of these folks trying to get a green card.

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: So we'll see how that one works out.

NGUYEN: Yes. We'll keep you posted on that.

HOLMES: We will turn to some politics now.

And Bill Richardson not the only governor -- not only is he the governor of New Mexico, he's also a former presidential candidate and he's also a Democratic superdelegate. He's got the cape and everything.

NGUYEN: Which means -- minus the cape -- that his endorsement of Barack Obama could prove extremely important.

Josh Levs joins us now to look at an issue about this endorsement that was really brought into the spotlight because all eyes right now are on those superdelegates, because the race is just so tight.

LEVS: Right, yes, exactly. And it was really interesting to watch that endorsement yesterday. And there's a lot that it brought up.

And one thing I'm going to look at right now is one thing that really struck me during the endorsement yesterday, is that after praising Hillary Clinton and the Clinton administration, Richardson said this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: It is now time for a new generation of leadership to lead America forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: A new generation. I found that very striking. That involves age.

There is no way to interpret your way around that. That does involve age. Clinton is 60. Obama is 46.

You know, we hear a lot about race in this campaign. We hear some about gender. We really don't hear much about age on the Democratic side.

Now, that line is something Ted Kennedy said, too, but it's particularly striking from Richardson, because he's the same age as Clinton. He's three weeks younger. And he was running for president on his experience.

We pulled up this one example here of his campaign calling him, "... the only candidate with the foreign policy experience and vision to restore America's standing around the world." And on the stump he talked about his experience all the time. Here's one example...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARDSON: All I'm saying, with Bill Richardson, you get both. You get change and you get experience.

Thank you! God bless you!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: So that's one example there.

Now, you know, there's been talk about the possibility of Richardson maybe as a vice presidential candidate, but now he has said it's time for a new generation of leadership. So how could he possibly now become somebody's VP?

So his remarks highlights this issue, and we want to hear what you all think. It's your opportunity to weigh in here. Does age matter in the Democratic race? You do hear it mentioned when it comes to McCain in the general election, but what about on the Democratic side? Is it a relevant factor?

Write us, weekends@cnn.com. We're going to share some of your responses tomorrow on the air. And, of course, keep them respectful and thoughtful and brief.

And guys, I really look forward to seeing what our viewers have to say about this. If on the Democratic side, if that matters to them as a relevant factor.

HOLMES: I want to hear what Bill Richardson has to say.

LEVS: Sure. I mean, he -- you know, he's not the first person to talk about generations, but he is, because he was running himself...

HOLMES: Well, now generation, that's a big deal now, generation.

NGUYEN: Right.

LEVS: Yes, it is. Yes. Yes.

HOLMES: OK.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Josh.

HOLMES: Josh, we appreciate you.

NGUYEN: And CNN is your campaign 2008 headquarters. Coming up this afternoon, "Ballot Bowl." It is back. And it's your chance to hear the candidates unfiltered.

"Ballot Bowl" kicks off today, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

HOLMES: All right. He's too young to vote...

NGUYEN: OK.

HOLMES: ...too young to drive.

NGUYEN: Got it.

HOLMES: Can't even go to a movie by himself. Certainly can't see a rated R movie, and a PG-13, for that matter.

NGUYEN: Really? OK.

HOLMES: But he's not too young to offer some helpful advice with the ladies.

NGUYEN: Uh-oh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEC GREVEN, AUTHOR, HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS: How to talk to a girl is not actually how to talk to a girl, but it's how to get a girl to like you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: See, there's a difference.

HOLMES: There is a big difference.

What are his tips? He's going to tell you when he joins us live, straight ahead.

NGUYEN: Looking forward to that.

And you want to check this out. The walls, they come tumbling down. Implosion always a blast in the NEWSROOM. We have the details behind this latest one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

HOLMES: Well, this is what -- this is what everybody's been waiting to hear this morning. All right.

Guys out there, you know how difficult it can be to talk to girls sometimes, and you just can't find the right words to say.

NGUYEN: Yes. You still have that problem, don't you?

HOLMES: Every now and then. I'm getting better.

NGUYEN: Well, that's where our guest comes in. Alec Greven is the author of this book right here, "How to Talk to Girls."

Now, Alec is an expert at the ripe old age of 8, and he joins us this morning from Denver.

Good morning, Alec.

GREVEN: Good morning.

NGUYEN: OK, you're just 8 years old. How did you learn to talk to girls?

GREVEN: Well, around the playground, there is a small handful of kids that go around, and they learn all about the playground. And during -- like when I studied around the playground with my friends, we found out a lot about girls.

NGUYEN: Really? What did you find out? What is it about girls that you learned?

GREVEN: Almost everything in the book.

NGUYEN: No way.

HOLMES: Just hanging out at the playground.

NGUYEN: Wow. Who knew?

HOLMES: Almost everything. You say everything in the book. You put some of your stuff in your book. We've got a few chapters we're going to go through with some people here, with our folks.

Chapter two is entitled "Reaction."

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: And it says, "Sometimes you get a girl to like you, then she ditches you. Tip: about 73 percent of regular girls ditch boys, 98 percent of pretty girls ditch boys."

Alec, explain to me what's the difference between a regular girl and a pretty girl.

GREVEN: A pretty girl are like all with the fancy earrings, fancy dresses, all those shoes, you know?

HOLMES: All that -- OK. I don't know if you can see, but my co- anchor Betty here, would she be a regular girl?

NGUYEN: No, don't put me on the spot, T.J.

HOLMES: Or would she be a pretty girl?

NGUYEN: Alec, tread very carefully here.

GREVEN: I'm not really sure.

(LAUGHTER)

NGUYEN: You know what? I still like you. It's OK, Alec.

But why is it that pretty girls ditch boys more often than the "regular girls," and where did you get your statistics?

GREVEN: Oh, the statistics are just around the playground. They're not around the world or -- like it's just around the playground.

NGUYEN: But it applies to most. I got you. I got you.

GREVEN: Yes, but it gives you a pretty good idea that you'd rather go for a regular girl than a pretty girl. And usually, don't let a pretty girl trap (ph) you in, because they most likely will ditch you, and if they ditch you, really, life is hard to move on is probably my greatest tip. They can't really get over it.

And it sometimes drives them mad. Like they don't do well in school, they have nightmares...

NGUYEN: Oh, my goodness.

HOLMES: Exactly!

NGUYEN: Over a girl on the playground?

GREVEN: Yes.

HOLMES: That goes through adulthood, man. Let me tell you.

NGUYEN: These are life lessons.

HOLMES: Yes.

NGUYEN: All right. Well, let's move on to chapter three, because you talk about crushes here, and you say, "Many boys get crushes on pretty girls, but some class clowns get a girl to like them, then they ditch them. It's very hard to get a girl to like you."

So how do you get a girl to like you?

GREVEN: First of all, you have to get their phone number, just so you, like, can start getting in touch, you know?

NGUYEN: OK.

GREVEN: And talk about some stuff.

NGUYEN: Like what?

GREVEN: Then -- anything, really. Just try to keep her entertained.

NGUYEN: Just talk.

GREVEN: Yes. Also, try not to keep her on to the phone for like two hours, because your mom is going to yell like, "Dinner time!"

NGUYEN: Yes, that could be a problem, right?

GREVEN: And -- yes. And then, like, "I have to go," and then, like, she'll think you're being all rude to her. So don't, like, take her on a two-hour talk.

NGUYEN: But you also say you need to show off your skills, I don't know, like playing soccer, or something like that. So you need to impress her?

GREVEN: Yes. Like, impress her, but don't, like, impress her too much -- like, "Hey, do you want to go see me play soccer?" And like, "I'm one of the best on the team."

Yes, that's -- like, it's kind of showing off. Don't show off in front of her.

NGUYEN: You're just setting yourself up for failure. Yes. GREVEN: Yes. Don't be a big showoff in front of her, but just, like, be calm with her.

NGUYEN: Yes, T.J. Don't be a showoff.

GREVEN: And try -- yes.

HOLMES: It's tough for me.

GREVEN: And you know like when her birthday's coming or something? Try to find out what she likes without making it look like you're trying to get her a birthday present.

HOLMES: OK.

NGUYEN: Oh, you're a little sly.

HOLMES: Alec, with all of this advice, Alec, then surely, you must have a girlfriend.

NGUYEN: A girlfriend.

HOLMES: They must be lined up.

GREVEN: Nope. I actually don't have a girlfriend.

HOLMES: No. Wait a minute now.

NGUYEN: So why is that? I mean, you've written a book on how people can talk to girls.

GREVEN: I don't really know.

NGUYEN: Are you not taking your tips to heart? Are you not utilizing your tips?

GREVEN: Well, no -- I'm just going to like wait a little while, because, like, you start at such a young age...

NGUYEN: Oh, that makes girls like you even more, Alec, and you know this.

HOLMES: Make them wait. Make them wait.

GREVEN: Well, no. Actually, you have to hold on to her for so long, you know?

NGUYEN: Oh.

GREVEN: And it's actually pretty hard to hold on to her for a long time. So, like, when you get into middle school, that's when you should try, because if you're like in third grade, like you have to hold on to her for like four or five -- six years. It's going to be really hard.

NGUYEN: That's forever. HOLMES: That's a long time.

GREVEN: Yes. It's going to be...

NGUYEN: It is.

GREVEN: ... it's going to be super hard just to hold on to her...

HOLMES: That's a good point, Alec.

GREVEN: ... and make her like you for such a long time.

NGUYEN: So you need to spread it out to make sure you can make it happen.

GREVEN: Yes, you have to spread it out. This is a good time just to make them, like, get attention to yourself.

NGUYEN: Oh.

GREVEN: But I wouldn't say go straight for the money and try like to start digging for gold right now.

NGUYEN: Yes, don't go straight for the money, T.J. Don't go for the money, because that may not always work. You need to hold on to her.

HOLMES: That might be the only bad advice I've heard this morning.

No, I'm kidding, Alec.

We know you're going to be writing another book, possibly. What's part two going to be?

GREVEN: What?

HOLMES: You've got another book coming, don't you?

NGUYEN: Right.

GREVEN: Yes, "How to Talk to Girls 2."

HOLMES: "How to Talk to Girls 2," all right.

NGUYEN: Can you give us a quick little preview of what's going to be in there?

GREVEN: It's going to have all sorts of stuff, like how to start a conversation, to attention, to stats. And stats are like 73 percent of pretty girls...

NGUYEN: Right, around the playground.

(CROSSTALK) NGUYEN: They're not scientific. They're just around the playground.

GREVEN: But now -- right, just stats. But some of it might be on the playground, some of it might be real stats.

NGUYEN: Ooh.

HOLMES: All right.

NGUYEN: All right.

You are an expert, no doubt.

Alec Greven, author of "How to Talk to Girls."

I think T.J. has learned a lot of lessons today, Alec.

HOLMES: I have this morning.

NGUYEN: And I've learned that I'm just an OK girl.

So thank you for that.

HOLMES: Alec, we appreciate you. You've made our morning.

GREVEN: Well, it's actually pretty fine to be an OK girl, because...

NGUYEN: He's trying to make me feel better about it.

GREVEN: ... most -- yes. It's better to go for like a regular girl than a pretty girl.

NGUYEN: There you go.

HOLMES: Now, that is true.

GREVEN: You don't want to go mad. Yes, you don't want to go mad and go crazy and everything like that.

HOLMES: Alec...

GREVEN: Go for a regular girl.

NGUYEN: Go for a regular girl, T.J.

HOLMES: Alec, we appreciate you.

GREVEN: And grownups like to call them high-maintenance girls.

HOLMES: Yes, we've got to let you go now, Alec.

NGUYEN: Oh, my goodness. Alec, it was great talking to you my friend. And you know what? Hopefully, we'll have you back again when you have your next book out. Take care.

GREVEN: OK. Bye.

NGUYEN: Good luck with the girls.

But the regular ones, of course.

HOLMES: Yes. Like the song goes, "Beautiful Girls."

Oh, my goodness.

Much more still ahead, folks. Don't know how in the world we're going to top that one, but we're going to have a special surprise for one little girl, at least.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: A very special delivery, making a birthday a dream come true.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: All right, so it looked like every birthday girl's dream gift, a great big box, all wrapped up in pink.

HOLMES: Yes, but it was what was inside that made Amber Birdsall's dream come true.

And Randy Wimbley of our affiliate WNEM explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDY WIMBLEY, REPORTER, WNEM (voice over): Amber thought she had a new bike waiting for her inside this huge box, buts instead, there was something -- well, someone, rather, a tad bit more valuable inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

WIMBLEY: Glen Johnson has been serving in Guantanamo Bay since last May, and when he heard Amber's only birthday wish was for him to make it home, there was just one thing on his mind.

SPEC. GLENN JOHNSON, SURPRISED DAUGHTERS: How can I get there?

WIMBLEY: That question threw him into a load of paperwork to get a leave of absence. Meanwhile, mom had the separate job of keeping mum around Amber. TRISHA JOHNSON, SPEC. JOHNSON'S WIFE: I had to do the hush-hush phone calls and the, "Hold on, there's kids in the room. I've got to leave."

WIMBLEY: While the secret never got out and while little Amber was surprised, she says there was a lot riding on this birthday wish.

AMBER JOHNSON, DAUGHTER: It would be the first birthday he would ever miss if he didn't be here.

WIMBLEY (on camera): So he had a big reason to get back, huh?

A. JOHNSON: Yes.

WIMBLEY (voice over): And while normally a picture is worth a thousand words, in this case, just one will do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: What a great story. And happy birthday.

HOLMES: Happy birthday. And the party continues, because Specialist Johnson's daughters not the only one partying this week.

NGUYEN: He and his wife plan on celebrating a belated Valentine's Day. Johnson telling his wife to get a new dress and he would take care of the rest. We'll let you know how that goes.

CNN NEWSROOM continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Oh yes, it is Saturday morning, but some folks at CNN are getting ready for Monday already.

NGUYEN: So, let's check in with Kiran Chetry in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Betty and T.J.

Coming up next week on "AMERICAN MORNING," politics and the pulpit. We're heading to church this Easter weekend. Senator Barack Obama is calling for a national conversation on race, so how will preachers answer that call? Our Lola Ogunnaike takes us to her church for an inside look.

Plus, it's issue No. 1, the economy. And we've been talking a lot about the credit crunch and a crisis in consumer confidence. We found some businesses that are actually booming in these tough times. So, how are they doing it? Also, the Easter bunny meets the tooth fairy? Well, can this actually be good for your health? It's a sugar-free lollipop, has an incredible sales pitch, supposedly it can help prevent cavities. Now, it has parents and kids in one city already smiling, but is it for real? We'll take a closer look.

It all begins on "AMERICAN MORNING" 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Betty and T.J., have a great weekend. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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