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. Gioia, Sacramento, CA

    The guy's 100% right by the way. We need a new movement in this country that is neither Democrat nor Republican. The politicians have become corrupted by power and greed. Our educational system has rendered our kids into mindless robots. America needs to wake up. Fat, indolent, questioning nothing, accepting everything that makes the masses FEEL GOOD. Log on to There just may be some hope yet for this country. Fire everyone in Washington and let's start over before our children & grandkids find themselves paying homage and being subservient to those who wish to conquer us. Read history.

    September 13, 2007 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  2. Chris S., Jacksonville, FL

    Hey, the truth hurts. His assesment is correct.

    We do get the govt. we deserve. If you like being lied to ripped-off and treated like children or fools keep voting for Republicans and Democrats.

    Both parties have sold us (especially our children)down the river.

    Shame on us for having such low standards.

    September 14, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  3. David B - Houston, TX

    Wow. What a non-issue. The guy responds in the only honest way possible and he makes the front of the CNN web page with a misleading headline.

    What a shame. Mr. Gravel dishes out some honest, "tough love" commentary and it is purposefully misconstrued and made headline news because Britney or Paris didn't do anything stupid today that required all of CNN's resources to cover.

    Shame on you, CNN.

    September 14, 2007 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  4. Andrew, Jakarta, Indonesia

    To Bruce from Palo Alto – I thought scientists were supposed to make rational rather than emotional decisions. I guess no bonus for you this year. What's your third career choice?
    To Manuel Hung from Lubbock, thanks I might steal that pseudonym for Fox.

    September 14, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  5. Robert F., Rochester, MN

    Sadly, this sort of honesty and straight-forwardness can only come from an individual who has no chance of being elected. Whoever is elected, it will be, much to our detriment, a polished, practiced sophist.

    September 14, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  6. Jeff Old Bridge,NJ

    It's all that Alaskan "pork" that we've been fed a steady diet of.We sure are dumb if we let them spend millions of dollars for a bridge to an island of 600 people and to build a highway in Florida!

    September 14, 2007 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  7. Jody, Champaign, Illinois

    You Go Mike!
    As I am not, personally either fat or dumb, I'm not in the least offended by this comment...just sorry that I missed seeing the whole forum! I (almost) completely agree with the senator...except for the fact that things are a bit more complex than his statement would imply. Yes, we do, technically, "put these people in power". However the system we are given to work with is responsible for at least some of the problems in Washington. Until (if ever) the candidate with the most $$$$ is not the one who becomes the nominee, we only have certain people to vote for in the first place. And finally Senator, since it appears that my tax dollars will be paying for all the "pork"-(you know, like your bridge?) you've added to legislations, how about giving us some "honest" conversation on that particular subject? Whadda-ya-say, Mike? Oh, and with all due respect, this "dumb" American would say, "going bad-LY, not "going bad".

    September 14, 2007 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  8. r.e. long island, ny

    heehee– someone did a study proving that if gas goes to $5.00 / gal. the obesity rate will go down by 50 % . Personally I don't see fat people ever being motivated to walk or bike more, but the author of the study swears by it.

    September 14, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  9. Coolidge

    Now this guy knows whats going on.

    Its the truth America. We're going to sit here asleep at the wheel while we lose our way of life.

    September 14, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  10. peter j. , new albany , in.

    Gravel said something that many people think but are afraid to say .There is absolutely no doubt that America is FAT FAT FAT. Look around you. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the number of obese people has skyrocketed. The dumb comment Im not so sure about. Teenagers and young adults who are not educated well always seem dumb to me. A certain number of older adults have always seemed dumb to me, not just lately.

    Don't worry folks, Mike Gravel will not be in the running come spring.

    September 14, 2007 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  11. Glen Morgan, Catonsville, MD

    FINALLY someone who is not afraid to speak the truth about the american public and it's pestilence.

    September 14, 2007 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  12. Ryan McCullough, Iraq

    The only thing I have to disagree with Gravel on is the statement about "remember who put these people in power". The average American might not be able to read at a higher level as in the past, but they still can read between the lines. Our government is no longer a government for the people by the people. It is more like a government for big business by big business. Our country really needs to clean house and get rid of all the lawyers and professional politicians currently in office. This country was built on the common man, yet the people in power are so far from the common man.

    September 14, 2007 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  13. R. Li, Wash. DC

    >What do you want, government-funded liposuction every five years?

    Well, he IS a Democrat, right????

    He's right about fatter, but that has nothing to do with education, about which he is an idiot.

    The reading rate has been static for the past 15 years or so. Pathetically low, but static. The kids in our schools have VERY high reading levels on an international level (please check out the TIMSS report on literacy at 4th and 8th grade), but they dislike reading more than just about any other country int he study and are less likely to do it in their spare time. Our relatively low rates of *adult* literacy, therefore, are not a function of poor initial instruction in the classroom but a result of the fact that our manner of instruction, while successful in getting kids while in school to make big gains, makes kids hate reading. It's largely due to the fact that Americans avoid reading outside of school that makes that apparently excellent instruction far worse than mediocre instruction in the real world.

    In addition, claims about declining literacy rates are nonsensical. As literacy rises, it is being redefined in stricter and stricter terms. Once, "literacy" was reading one's name. Now, it's often reading at the 6th grade level.

    Year-round education isn't a help, either. The problem in mathematics, particular, won't be helped if you spent three times as many hours in the classroom. The methodology is flawed. Ditto for science. We're actually doing quite well with literacy, overall–we just need to figure out a way to keep kids from HATING reading when we're through!

    September 14, 2007 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  14. Michael, STL MO

    Oh my god. I have pretty much stayed out of political discussions for one main reason. And this guy hit that right on!!!

    America IS becoming fat and dumb. And worse by the second. Roughly compared to cattle, eat your food and follow those who seem big and powerful and talk a lot.

    Here's an article for those of you who wish to object. In 2000, people elected a president who lost the popular vote but got the electorial vote. Why? Because the margin was so slim. This means 50% of this nation's voters voted for an idiot KNOWING what he was gonna do! Here's another article. HE WON AGAIN! And by a larger majority. Meaning that the MAJORITY of american voters voted for the same dude AGAIN AFTER he pulled this war out. There's your first piece of evidence of American stupidity.

    Let's go over some other dumb things. Unions all over America pushing for higher wages and lower costing health insurance. Hmmmmm I wonder why American jobs are going overseas?????

    I guess if our society wasn't so focused on luxury vehicles, 500-700 video game systems, and fancy cell phones that check your email then maybe just maybe the unions (whose leaders are paid by the members every check) wont have to push this crap.

    Now how about more evidence? Gas prices. Everyone complains of gas prices. Too high? TAKE THE BUS!!! WALK!!! STOP THE MIDNIGHT DRIVE TO MC DONALDS!!! I pay 65 bucks a full tank of gas, and I dont complain. Here's a lesson for you: Supply and Demand, the less you use, the less you buy, the less the price will be.

    Here's something else for you. Forbes list of largest companies in the world.
    Citigroup is #1.
    Wal-Mart is #17.
    McDonald's is #200.
    So basically American's spend quite a bit of money borrowig the hell out of their credit, buying dumb stuff, and stuffing their faces. How can FAST FOOD even be on this list if not for the land of the free?

    I tell ya this guy probably said the best thing over american air possible. I'd vote for him but it would be pointless. You see what good will my vote do if others vote with stupidity. Vote for someone who will do something. But I say this even more. Stop thinking other people will fix your problems. Figure it out yourself!!

    Thomas Jefferson once said, "The purpose of government should only be to keep people from killing each other." Heh, yea thats why we have more laws than any other nation in the world. Wake up people!!!

    If your offended, put down the twinkie, get educated the right way and fix this!!!

    September 14, 2007 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  15. Antoine, Schicklegruber

    Mein Gott, an honest man? We haven't had one in the political arena since Abe!He could never be elected President in plastic America. C'est dommage!

    September 14, 2007 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  16. Britney, Lewisville,TX

    I do agree with his first statement, that we are getting fatter and dumber due to the quality of education in public schools and as parents you do need to be diligent and go the extra mile with your kids and their education. However, I do not like his comment about how we deserve this government since we are the ones that put them there.I could go on and on with many different reasons about why I do not like this statement but to put it quite simply often times a politician will vote the way they want to no matter what despite knowing what their constituents from their area wants.

    September 14, 2007 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  17. Brian Tesar, Billings, MT

    Just from this short article...Gravel gets my vote!

    September 14, 2007 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  18. Mark, Philadelphia, PA

    Do this meen I have to go to skool an stop eatin' donutz?

    September 14, 2007 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  19. ron petronella,lighthouse point,fl.

    Fatter and dumber? Just keep watching CNN News.. They will make you alot fatter and much dumber...Just the way they want you.

    September 14, 2007 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  20. ron petronella,lighthouse point,fl.

    Didnt Bill Clinton LOVE McDonalds???
    Who's Dumb??

    September 14, 2007 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  21. Susan, Big Lake, MN

    Here we have an example of the pot calling the kettle black. In his sentence: "And so if things are going bad, just remember who put these people in power." The word bad is an adverb (describes the verb 'are going'), which in the American language requires an "ly" ending.

    September 14, 2007 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  22. Frank Sandbeans, Taylor MI

    Glad to hear a politician finally say it. We have one of the dumbest one's running the White House right now with his supporting cast of morons!

    September 14, 2007 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  23. Kristina, Grand Forks, ND

    Good Luck winning. You're going to need it.

    September 14, 2007 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  24. peter donegan MI Hort

    Honesty is the best policy? They should make it law!
    This guy rules – make a clone and post him to Ireland.

    September 14, 2007 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  25. Mary, Beaver, PA

    I can't argue with him.

    September 14, 2007 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
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