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

Congressman clarifies island tipping comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/01/art.johnson.gi.file.jpg caption="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. Fred in Houston

    Lost in thought? LOL. Doesn't sound like the people of the great state of Georgia were thinking when they sent this clown to represent them.

    April 2, 2010 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  2. Michael

    It's unlikely to happen but as a member of congress it’s congressman Johnson’s job to explore every possibility. What if there was a massive party on one side of the island that everyone on the island wanted to go too. Then the majority of the population could theoretically overload one side of the island. Causing what is known as the lily pad effect, i.e. an obese host such as a frog overloads one side of a lily pad causing it to tip over. He’s only trying to protect the people of Guam, United States Marines, and their families.

    April 2, 2010 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  3. Michael M

    What is the big deal? His joke was not subtle. It was obvious. The relationship to the conversation was obvious. He did not get lost in thought or distracted in anyway. What is wrong with people? Has everyone lost the ability to commuicate or to recognize critical thinking expressed as humor? Any Navy personnel or other individuals who have been to Guam would have recognized and even agreed with the humor presented by the esteemed legislator.

    April 2, 2010 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  4. jules sand-perkins

    The anti-excellence movement, which has been growing like a malignant tumor in America since the 1960s, has produced so many uneducated citizens that it is now difficult to be certain who may or may not comprehend the concept of a capsizing island.

    April 2, 2010 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
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