April 2nd, 2010
10:10 AM ET
5 years ago

Congressman clarifies island tipping comment

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: Guam • Hank Johnson
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. frank in valparaiso indiana

    Hey if people believe in cow tipping, how about island flipping?

    No you can't tip a cow. Think about it.

    April 2, 2010 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  2. bill

    Have people gotten so stupid that they take everything literally? jeesh, people, use your energy for something more important.....

    April 2, 2010 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  3. kas

    Just another idiot who wil be gone come November.

    April 2, 2010 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  4. Steve in Ithaca, NY

    And this guy is making decisions about YOUR healthcare.

    April 2, 2010 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  5. Jason

    If you saw the video, or heard the audio, you would "obviously" know he WASNT joking. Just CNN trying to cover for Dems as usual. Can you imagine the headline and story if a Republican said this?

    April 2, 2010 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  6. Rpd1028

    I watched the video, this guy was as serious as could be. Shows the I.Q. level of some of our elected officials.

    April 2, 2010 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  7. Dee G - CT Voter

    OMG! There are some pretty stupid people out there. The part that scares me is that this guy is a Navy Admiral and he couldn't figure out that it was a joke?!? Get a clue people! You might want to use your brain for something other than a weight to keep your head from falling off your shoulders! And I actually come from a naval family. Common sense=not so common

    April 2, 2010 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  8. Saxo Grammaticus

    So help me here. How was this not obviously a joke? Is the military so literal minded now that simple figures of speech are off limits?

    April 2, 2010 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  9. Pa-Pilot

    Um. No. He was not joking. It appeared he was under the influence of medication or something. He was out of it. There is no way that was a joke. He was rambling on like an idiot for 3 minutes in the video that I saw, and there was no sign it was even remotely intended to be a joke.

    I watched some other videos featuring Mr. Johnson, and the difference in his personality is striking. No, I do not believe he is really that dumb, but he really needs to take a sick day if his Hep C is giving him a hard time, or if he is under the influence of medication.

    April 2, 2010 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  10. Robert B.

    Look at his color, then look at what voted for it, thats mentallity of the race!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 2, 2010 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  11. Patrick

    Sorry Hank – there's no weaseling out of the statement you made.
    You were either under the influence or you are an idiot.
    You're probably not an idiot, so that leaves one other option.............

    April 2, 2010 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  12. BJ

    Nice try!

    April 2, 2010 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  13. runner305

    I am really sick of this "politically correct" crap! This joke was so benign, was NOT racial, or anti-Guam, or whatever. Let's please turn the page on this one and move on. Jeez!

    April 2, 2010 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  14. Rick

    LOL! my goodness people. Obviously that was a joke unless you still believe that the earth is flat and you can fall off the edge. Geeezzz!

    April 2, 2010 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  15. dale trent

    it appears he didn't "...get lost in thought..." in this instance; he just had no thought.....typical politician....

    April 2, 2010 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  16. J Cox

    Not only is this person pathetically ignorant, make that stupid, but now he is a liar. Shame.

    April 2, 2010 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  17. Gene from Georgia

    It's called a metaphor, folks.

    April 2, 2010 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  18. Jonathan

    I hope he gets the help he needs to be funnier or less stupid, whichever is more necessary.

    April 2, 2010 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  19. Angus McDugan

    Congressman Johnson graduated from the Joe Biden finishing school.

    April 2, 2010 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  20. Conan

    Ok, CNN just passed Fox News as the dumbest news channel on the planet for "reporting" this. Congrats.

    April 2, 2010 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  21. alan

    This is what Cynthia McKinney's district sent to Washington as her replacement? A mind is a terrible thing to waste....

    April 2, 2010 07:40 am at 7:40 am |