September 14th, 2007
08:35 AM ET
8 years ago

Gravel to America: You're 'fatter and dumber'

Gravel had some frank words for the American people Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Trying to be a "friend" to the American people, Democratic White House hopeful Mike Gravel gave his honest assessment to potential voters during an online Democratic candidate forum Thursday.

"I'm prepared to tell you that Americans are getting fatter and dumber," the former Alaska senator told comedian Bill Maher, one of the debate's moderators. "I have no problem saying that."

Maher asked a question to each of the eight Democratic candidates during the forum, which was sponsored by Slate, Yahoo! and the Huffington Post.

Maher told Gravel that obesity rates are up and reading levels are down and added that the "definition of a friend is someone who tells you the truth." Gravel replied that he was willing to be honest with the American people.

"I've also said that Americans are going to get the government they deserve," Gravel said. "And so if things are going bad, just remember who put these people in power."

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: Mike Gravel
soundoff (308 Responses)
  1. Brenda, Annapolis

    Gravel is 100% right. He is a no-nonsense candidate. While I haven't decided yet who I'm voting for, he is in the top tier. Our country is in dyer need of a wake-up call, and Gravel is the guy to do it. Forget the rhetoric of such front-runners as Obama and Clinton–they want to stay at the top in the polls so they'll say anything. Gravel has nothing to lose. If either he or Biden are elected, either would truly do a phenomenal job–especially in restoring faith, dignity, and integrity back in the U.S. Government.

    Anyone who's offended are obviously afraid of the truth/prefer to live out the "ignorance is bliss" saying. We see that the obesity is increasing and literacy is decreasing, yet we deny there's a problem. Worse, we don't do anything about it. Thank you Gravel for being honest with the American people, and telling us like it is–it's a welcomed change. TELL US MORE!

    September 14, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Rocco New York, NY

    His comment brings to mind a quote by the great H.L. Mencken
    The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.

    September 14, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. CL, Washington, DC

    I couldn't agree more. American's are fatter and dumber. Something needs to be done to improve the education system and we know "No Child Left Behind" isn't cutting it!!! I'm looking for the presidental hopeful who can actually present a plan. A plan for Education, Iraq, Healthcare, etc. I didn't vote in the last election because I was appalled by both candidates. Can't we just get one good Democrat and Republican to run?

    September 14, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. M Windisch Indianapolis, IN

    From the looks of him and the comments that he makes I say that he is ALL AMERICAN

    September 14, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Dave

    Maybe America needs to hear this. We have lost our competative edge, we have thrown the Bill of Rights to the dogs.

    We are acting more and more like the former Soviet Union (i.e. secret prisons, holding people without due process, etc etc)

    We are the fattest nation on earth. Rome fell... Look whats happening to us. We need to get it together

    September 14, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. JK

    To those who think this man has said something wonderful or great, contemplate this: Do you really want a politician who thinks himself better than the citizens he represents?Do you really respect a man who openly insults the people he wants to serve?

    September 14, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. Brenda, Annapolis

    Nancy in KY, Steve in CO, and all you other anti-truth people:

    Quit playing the blame game and making excuses for why America is fat and stupid. WAKE UP. If you indulge in such things as McDonalds and T.V. instead of a book, then that is YOUR CHOICE as an American. It's no one's fault but your own. America makes it easy to commit murder, but are you partaking in that? No. Because you CHOSE not to. Both have repercussions, yet you choose to ignore the ones for being fat and stupid. If the whole basis of your argument is shifting blame, then you really are stupid.

    Why don't you read some legislation while you're at it. Members of Congress have been trying to pass legislation to address these problems for years now, but it's getting shoved on the back-burner because of I-R-A-Q. You should thank Mike Gravel for bringing it back into the spotlight so that it can get the attention it deserves.

    September 14, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Chris

    If you love and care for someone or something, you have to be harsh to improve that person. He could of picked better words, but the overall message is there.

    Yes, we can and should tell our friends and family the truth, even if it hurts. They will never grow and prosper if we allow them to wallow in their own self worth.

    The bible clearly states that we are to discipline our friends and family to better them down the road. One of the reasons we are all "fatter and dumber" is such as this. If we become so PC and self centered, we'll all be vain and destroy ourselves. Which we are already doing.

    September 14, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. jfr, Long Island NY

    Right and Wrong are a matter of perspective. However his comments do have the potential to be more constructive than destructive.

    the "definition of a friend is someone who tells you what their thinking without fearing of your reaction".

    September 14, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Griffin, Atlanta, GA

    Unfortunately, he's too logical and makes too much sense to ever be considered for president.

    September 14, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. JK

    Right and wrong are not "a matter of perspective." Like it or not, there are absolutes in civil society. One of the absolutes I value dearly is that man has free will. While people have a choice in what they do–if they choose to do something wrong, there are consequences. If people choose to over-eat, then they must accept responsibility for being overweight. If someone decides to believe that an activity that is illegal, then that does not negate the fact that what they do is "wrong." Ask most criminals: they'll tell you that they didn't think what they were doing was wrong.

    September 14, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. Ozzie, Lincoln, NE

    Wow, though I don't care for Gravel, at least I can appreciate his honesty. It is all by design that there is a dumbing down of the school system as well as false teachings.

    September 14, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Peter. Easton, PA

    Steve, Denver CO:

    Yes we live in a country where we have the freedom to be fat and dumb but how far does that freedom go? With the numerous health problems associated with obesity I should have a say in our overall health. After all I should not have to pay higher health premiums because of the lousy eating habits of others! I also shouldn't have to pay more in property taxes to arm police officers to keep my neighborhood safe from all the crime due to dumb Americans who cant hold jobs. Yes you have the freedom and right to be fat and dumb but like all other rights, it only goes so far.
    I also love how everyone points the finger at the FDA for allowing preservatives etc.. whatever happened to proper exercise and diet? Home cooked meals and not fast food or preprocessed foods? The food companies will push what they want to sell. Its up to YOU to practice self control and discipline and not buy it.

    September 14, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Steve from Denver:

    Thanks. I am not going to repeat what you said so well.

    I have lived among you for some years now, always "for a while" waiting to be recalled. I espouse your culture, and your freedoms. I am also happy with my 170 lbs 6 feet body. I have had it for a few decades now.

    I don't cook, and yes...I exercise ligthtly. The last time I entered a restaurant that the commenters above seem to despise most it was to use the washroom. So, what do I eat? Everything that has no fat–mixed vegetable crunches without the quintessential dip, unsalted corn chips, yougurt and kafir, eggs which we boil, an occasional adequate portion of AAA grade meat, fresh fruits of all sorts, fresh not cured cheeses, roasted mixed vegetables,...and the list goes on ferever. The cost: about $18.00/day between myself and my daughter. Is it a difficult eating habit to maintain? How could it possible be, with such great variety of foods! How long does it take to prepare it? Not one single moment because everything we buy is pre-cut, pre-washed, and pre-packaged, often in front of me according to my instructions, at the fresh vegetables and cheeses islands while I wait.

    September 14, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. K.D., Cleveland, Ohio

    Well, Veronica, not only do most Americans prefer there news in 30 second sound-bites, but most news is watered down to just "human interest" and features. This is due to things like, well, for lack of a better example, CNN and other twenty-four hour "news" networks.

    September 14, 2007 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Theresa, Denver CO

    I am horrified beyond words that people think HONESTY is a negative trait in a politician! Isn't it time for a friend who tells you the truth, rather than stabbing you in the back and laughing at you?
    I for one am very proud to be backing Gravel!

    September 14, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. Mike, Oakland Township, Michigan

    This guy just proved his ignorance with his comment about teachers. Politicians work MUCH less per year than teachers, and have better benefits and make significantly more. They spend more time making appearances and fund-raising than actually working. A teacher's job is one of the most difficult and stressful careers and I'm tired of clueless politicians pontificating about educators not doing enough. If you want year round school, then fund it instead of a made up war.

    September 14, 2007 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. Jack, Columbia MD

    The man's right. You don't have to be a genius to see the truth, but you have to be stupid not to do anything about it.

    September 14, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Truth, from the Dying Soul of America

    Unfortunately, the "dumber" part is actually a piece of the master plan (the "fatter" part is just an unfortunate side-effect of our corporate-guided, convenience-driven economy). American public school systems have been intentionally and forcibly deteriorated over the last quarter-century because the ability of critical thought makes you a poor consumer. Once you're no longer learning to think for yourself, you need someone to do the thinking for you, and they happily step in. Who are "they", you might ask?

    Religion and capitalism – each a good enough idea in and of itself, but unfortunately, each has been perverted to evil ends. Religion is now how they train you to think what they want you to think, and do what you're told to do. It's not about "faith", it's about "blind acceptance" – since you never learned to think for yourself, hey, someone's gotta tell you what to think, right? Hey, I love God, but I'm skeptical of anyone who thinks they can get rich just talking about Him. But even they who have perverted religion to their own ends are only tools of the real beast. The corporatocracy has plenty of goods to sell, it just needs to convince you that you need them. Thank God you've already been shaped into a good susceptible drone! Do what you're told now, give all your money to them, you're too stupid to know what to do with it anyway, remember? Besides, without debt, how would you whine about how poor you are? They're doing you a favor – they're giving you something to talk about in your hair salons and nail places. You should be thankful.
    Can't handle the truth? THINK FOR YOURSELF!! Your money is yours, not theirs. Your mind is yours, not theirs. They steal both every single day. DO something about it.

    September 14, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. RA Las Vegas, NV

    Mike Gravel; Please go finish your twelve step program for anger management and leave the all fatter and dumber people of Americana with deciding who serves the US.

    September 14, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Jim Topeka, KS

    Could not agree more after 8 years of peace and economic growth we put G W Bush in place. So long growth, surplus, and the rest speaks for it self. Not only did we allow him 4 years, but then we turned right around and gave him 4 more.

    September 14, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Sean, Henderson NV

    Oh there are so many differnt ways to interprate his saying. Yup people are getting fatter and dumber and so are the corporations and politicians. Multinational corporations are getting fatter and our politicians are getting dumber and we the "fat stupid" Americans are the ones to blame for voting these dumb politicians in.

    Instead of insulting the American people why doesn't this guy do something about it!!!! You can't make a policy to make people skinny but fix the damn school systems instead of calling us dumb!

    September 14, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. Jeff, Belleville, NJ

    I agree 100 percent with him, but the problem is that he will get blasted for saying this even though its the truth. Thats the problem, everyone says we want an honest politician but when one speaks the truth he gets his political head kicked in.

    September 14, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. Steve, New York

    I agree 110% with him!

    September 14, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Tedi, Evansville, IN

    First of all...

    It's about time you all did an article (even if it is small) on Gravel. The man is a genius and would make a great President. I'd like to see more about him in the news PLEASE. Fair and equal reporting.


    You totally set him up on this...

    'Maher told Gravel that obesity rates are up and reading levels are down and added that the "definition of a friend is someone who tells you the truth." '

    So Gravel does absolutely nothing but rephrase what Maher said, and CNN writes it up as though Gravel woke up this morning, eager to insult us all.


    Gravel is 100% correct. Educate yourself on Mike Gravel everybody. This man knows what he's talking about.

    September 14, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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