April 1st, 2010
08:20 PM ET
4 years ago

Congressman clarifies island tipping comment

Rep. Hank Johnson was joking when he suggested that the island of Guam might capsize, his office said Thursday.
Rep. Hank Johnson was joking when he suggested that the island of Guam might capsize, his office said Thursday.

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, is clarifying comments he made during a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing in which he suggested that the island of Guam, a U.S. territory, might "tip over and capsize."

While hearing testimony from Navy Admiral Robert F. Willard on March 25, Johnson expressed fear that the Pacific island of Guam might capsize if additional U.S. troops are deployed to a military base on the small island as planned.

"My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize," Johnson said.

Admiral Willard replied that the military did not expect the island to tip over.

"We don't anticipate that. The Guam population is currently about 175,000 and, again, with 8,000 Marines and their families, that is an addition of about 25,000 more into the population," Willard deadpanned.

After video of the exchange went viral on the Web, the two-term Democrat released a statement Thursday explaining that he was "obviously" joking.

"The subtle humor of this obviously metaphorical reference to a ship capsizing illustrated my concern about the impact of the planned military buildup on this small tropical island," Johnson said in the statement.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that Johnson has battled Hepatitis C for more than a decade, an ailment that causes him to get "lost in thought in the middle of a discussion."


Filed under: Extra • Guam • Hank Johnson • Popular Posts
soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. Victim of GOP Taliban

    To defend against whom? Last time Japan tried to invade the Pacific was 1942.

    April 1, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  2. FL

    Was no joke. Watch the video. He had a very hard time even finding the correct words to described the size of the island. Very disturbing to watch. He might have suffered something medical.

    April 1, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. Voice of Reason

    Ridiculous. Islands tip over all the time. But the CIA and their black helicoptors with mind control rays keep people from seeing it. It's all part of the conspiracy to keep the masses from finding out that the Earth is hollow, that Elvis lives, and that Barack Obama is a time-traveller who has come back in time to Father himself and save the world!!!

    Thanks Rep. Johnson, and happy April Fools to you, too!

    April 1, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  4. Steve in VA

    Man, that guy is stupid.

    April 1, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. FRANK, LAS VEGAS

    I'm glad to hear that he clarified that. I somewhat suspected that was the case as I watched the video as the congressman had a surprised look on his face when he got a straight answer to the question. That's what happens from time to time when you use subtle jokes. Besides just think how much money it would cost us to right the island after it capsized.

    April 1, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. obamarroids

    If a Republican did this CNN and other Obamist outlets would be ripping the Republican to shreds.

    April 1, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. jam

    why would anyone think he actually meant the island would tip over? I cannot believe this needed clarification at all. Why is this considered newsworthy? CNN come on. It is not news! News of the stupid constituency!

    April 1, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  8. jwcoopusa

    Watch the whole video and judge for yourself if Johnson was "joking." He was almost unintelligible. This is an example of our "leadership" in Congress?

    April 1, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. Randy D

    The man is an idiot, and doesn't deserve to keep his job if he can't think straight, no matter the reason.

    April 1, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. chris l

    Actually Dems are far from intelligent so I do not think he was kidding at all. People like this also believe in such utter nonsense as trickle up economics. Its kind of like all the people who took the "small bus" to school everyday now run Congress while OBOZO drives the country to crap. Thank God (sorry Libs, everyone knows you hate God) these filthy Libs in Congress will be unemployed come Nov. while the Radical and Chief will be lucky to make it to 2012 without being impeached or just physically tossed out of office due to revolution. LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER

    April 1, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  11. Ha!!!

    And the liberal morons that post here call Republicans the idiots!

    "We have to pass healthcare to see what is in it" =Pelosi.
    "When healthcare is passed we will have a chance to know what is in it." =Obama.

    Guess what people? They pass a bill w/o reading or understanding what was in it. Wait till we really see what is in it now!

    April 1, 2010 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. Flipper

    He was obviously joking? This guy is suffering from hepatitis C which severely affects his cognitive abilities. So why the heck is this guy still in a position of power where he can make decisions that affect everyone? This instance should be a clarion call to all, especially the power-hungry Dems, that this guy is not fit to hold office & needs to resign immediately.

    April 1, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. James

    When there is a "D" after the name expect ignorance.

    The Party of Know – We KNOW what is best for you whether you like it or not.

    April 1, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  14. Our Congressmen are so Smart they Believe Guam Floats

    If the congressman was "joking", then he is the most talented person ever at deadpan humor. Because the video shows he was not kidding with his intelligent comment.
    Mr. Johnson is obviously using the US House of Representatives as his own personal nursing home at taxpayer expense, depending on legislative aides to do everything.
    This is a very embarrassing moment, and yet very revealing about the quality of our representation in Congress. My dog is smarter than that.

    April 1, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Tony in Largo

    How did this become such an important subject for us to comment on?

    April 1, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  16. GK

    I just can't believe he dignified this with a response.
    Really? Someone really believed he thought an island would tip over? Come on people, it's an obvious exageration to make a point.
    Now can we get to some real issues?

    April 1, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Andy

    This is the party that brings us health care-says Guam might tip over with too much population.I feel better now-RIGHT

    April 1, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. M manibusan

    Biggest "fool" in the month of April -ever.

    April 1, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  19. MCD

    Nothing to clarify here... I think his choice of phrasing was wonderful.

    April 1, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. proud conservative

    Time to retire Congressman Willard. Don't forget to take the rest of the Dems. With you.

    April 1, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Will

    Sorry....I (and millions of others) have seen the video. The only joke was the one on Americans that have this guy as their Representative.

    April 1, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  22. Jake

    Another of the dems finest hour-says Guam will tip over with too many people on it and still people believe in this party-what else aliens from mars-guess we will give them entitlements too .

    April 1, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. Hammerer

    Now he is trying to say that he miss spoke. The standard response from the Dems when they show their IQ.

    April 1, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  24. Carol

    lol, sure. Yeah that's the ticket. Never mind the hand motions, the body leaning over illustrating the tipping. The whole 1:20 minute dialog talking about the small island and the tipping over. Do you people really think we are st upid enough to buy this lame excuse? It's not the first time he's put his big foot in his mouth.

    April 1, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  25. Jeff

    Yet another example that the general population is becoming less intelligent. Is everyone too serious to know what a joke is? I think so.

    April 1, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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