April 1st, 2010
08:20 PM ET
5 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. Mike in NYC

    There's no way that the halfwit on display in the video composed that explanatory statement.

    He didn't lose his thoughts in the middle of the discussion. They weren't there to begin with.

    April 1, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  2. Russ

    If the media has to denote that this man was joking when he quipped about an island capsizing due to over-population, then society has truly lost it's ability to 1) reason, and 2) to sense humor. Who in their right mind would have taken this comment seriously, or taken offense to it?

    April 1, 2010 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    He didn't laugh. The Admiral didn't laugh. Know why? It wasn't a joke!

    April 1, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  4. southern cousin

    Another highly intelligent liberal democrat. The kind of leader the dope smokers will keep electing.

    April 1, 2010 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I clearly understand what he meant and I agree. Look at the history of America.

    April 1, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  6. Travis Thornton

    He was not joking, and it's obvious in the video. Yes, he's got a disease and needs help, but he was not joking.

    April 1, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  7. Travis Thornton

    He was not joking, and it's obvious in the video. Yes, he's got a disease and needs help, but he was not joking.

    I'm watching you, CNN...

    April 1, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  8. No Incumbents 2010

    The video speaks for itself. This was no attempt at deadpan humor although I am surprised the Admiral did not fall out of his chair laughing. The question was entirely serious. Just watch the video clip there is no way to spin it. Hank is under the delusional belief that Guam is a floating island. Hank's aides are always having to cover up and spin his gaffes but you can only hide it for so long.
    Time to term-limit this incompetent career politician and give someone else a chance.

    April 1, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  9. Tony

    It was not a joke. Just watch the video. The way it was stated, and the reactions from the audience and officer make that obvious. "Clarifying his remarks". Bah. As a Democrat, I beg the DNC: ditch this guy next go round.

    April 1, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  10. John Bacon

    And liberals call Palin stupid?

    April 1, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  11. Don

    Hey, I have an idea…let put these guys in charge of our medical system. Man O Man, poor Thomas Jefferson must be doing back flips in his grave based on what we have in office today

    April 1, 2010 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. WeThePeopleofVirginia

    Perhaps the good Congressman should consider changing his name to Peter Principle?

    April 1, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. Keith in Austin

    Classic liberal idiot and one of Pelosi's YES votes for Obozocare!

    April 1, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Off CNN can't tell this idiot ment what he said I question their ability to do their job!

    April 1, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  15. dave

    This has got to be the stupidest story I have read in a long while and I just had to comment. What is wrong with you!? CNN, thanks for wasting my time... again.

    April 1, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Tammy

    Hey, folks, a joke is a joke. The better ones are subtle.

    April 1, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. Georgia ?

    Maybe he thinks Altanta will sink into the mud if everyone started jumping up and down, Goes to show you, intelligence is not required to be a member of Congress.

    April 1, 2010 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. James Black

    I am a Republican, and I think this is a stupid story. Seriously, making a mountain our of nothing. I don't know why the representative from Georgia would care about Guam at all. Other than that, this is a non-story.

    April 1, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. Jai-ho

    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........."

    ......Might wanna have Pelosi, Reid and Especially Biden checked out for this as well.

    April 1, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  20. William Hahn

    If CNN can't tell this guy is a complete moron. I question their ability to do there job! Please don't give this idiot a "Pass" on this!

    April 1, 2010 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  21. malclave

    Nice try at an excuse, but I'm not buying it.

    The so-called joke didn't exhibit hatred, and that's the only type of humor liberals understand.

    April 1, 2010 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. Tim

    As Joe Wilson once rightly said, you lie!

    April 1, 2010 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. eric gillette

    CNN are you kidding? I watched the whole thing. Congressman Johnson was not joking at all. And it was very obvious by the look on the faces of all in the hearing that he was not joking either.
    Look at his track record of "bizarre" statements like this.
    How did this guy get into office! Are we Americans THAT stupid,

    April 1, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  24. Sam in KY

    The joke was obvious to anyone with a sense of humor. Guess that lets CNN out.

    April 1, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  25. Sam in KY

    The joke was obvious to anyone with a sense of humor. Guess that explains why CNN didn't get it.

    April 1, 2010 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
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