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. Goldenmom

    America has no humor. No really, humor is about as rampant today as a Focus on The Family member joining PFLAG.

    April 1, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. Jerry - Florida

    Well, well! If it had been a Republican who made this idiotic comment, the Democrats, the main stream media and most unpatriotic comedians would be asking for the Republican's head on a platter. Where is the outrage here?

    "Lost in thought in the middle of a discussion", my eye!

    In case anyone is wondering, YES, I am a life-long Democrat.

    Stay tuned.

    April 1, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  3. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    He's not lost in thought, he's just lost.

    April 1, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. obamarroids

    If a Republican did the Obamistas would be flexing their rectums in unison and squeeling like a pack of wild pigs. And CNN would be stoking them.

    April 1, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Jin

    It is sad commentary when a public speaker uses a figure of speech (hyperbole) and partisan dorks CHOOSE to take the comment literally. It is time to do the nation's business and quit wasting valuable time with such crap. If these people worked a real job they would be fired for spending company time on such foolishness.

    April 1, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. Simon Cabron

    CNN, this is ridiculous.

    April 1, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. marcus (seattle)

    it just goes to show you that there are completel idiots on both sides of the aisle.. how on earth do these people get elected.. in a nation of 300 million people, this is what we've picked to run the country ?? it's no wonder the american empire is coming to a screeching halt !!

    April 1, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  8. Tim from NC

    Wonder where the liberals are????? I wonder if a Republican had said this how many of you would call him or her a racist??? I wonder how many of you liberals would call ths person an idiot..... I love your double standard.......

    April 1, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. lwj

    I agree, this dude is an obvious joke, but, in his defense, I'm sure he fits in well with the poor excuse for a legislative / deliberative body that we are currently subjected to.

    April 1, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  10. NoCongress

    Imagine the IQ of the morons that elected this moron. If Johnson made a statement containing the words "obviously metaphorical" someone wrote it for him.

    April 1, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. Tripp Litton

    I felt bad for him since he has Hep C and is on medication, but now that he has so blatantly lied by claiming his statement was a joke, I have lost all respect for him. In no way was he joking when he made that ridiculous comment. However, claiming that he was joking is even more ridiculous. What a dishonest man!

    April 1, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. roger

    So I definitely feel sorry for the guy – but if you watch the video, he is DEFINITELY not joking. Not one bit.

    April 1, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  13. Todd

    What kind of abject moron mouth breeding twit would not recognize that for hyperbole?

    April 1, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  14. Bob True American

    I watched the video, and he does come across as a little loony, he spent so much time on the length and width of the country, why would that matter?

    April 1, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. DA

    uh, i saw the vid and he was not joking unless his humor is like watching paint dry!!

    April 1, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  16. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    In elementary school, one of my wife's absolutely stellar teachers taught her class, in all seriousness, that islands float. Maybe this guy had the same teacher?

    April 1, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  17. Stuman

    No doubt he was joking but he needs to be put under the bright light like the Demos do whenever a Republican says something stupid.

    April 1, 2010 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  18. TonyInLargo

    .....And this is newsworthy because............???!!!

    April 1, 2010 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  19. Dr. Bombay

    I can vouch for Rep. Johnson's mental status.

    April 1, 2010 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  20. ohio u student

    people, sit back and think about this before you REALLY think that he thought guam would capsize...

    April 1, 2010 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  21. Joseph

    I guess trying to pass it off as a joke is the only way to cover for it...
    Anyone out there still wondering why congress keeps messing the country up?

    April 1, 2010 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  22. mike

    haha, I bet his constituents re-elect him anyway, and keep the 'uneducated' stereotype alive and well...

    April 1, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  23. ron

    This is the CNN Ticker's attempt to look balanced in their negative reporting. Scroll down for negative stories on Palin or the GOP. Looking for something on Frank, Rangel or Pelosi? CNN doesn't allow that. Sorry.

    April 1, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  24. Dan Davenport

    When Johnson made those statements, he was as serious as any moron could be. This guy is a joke to the African-American community, the district he serves, the state of Georgia and the United States Congress. Where is Cynthia McKinney when we need you? I would rather have a communist for a representative than a moron.

    April 1, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. Tony in Maine

    Good grief, have we devolved that far down the scale that an obvious joke that isn't even offensive becomes ammunition for an attack?

    The man should not have had to explain himself. Those who assumed he was serious have a brain cell deficiency.

    April 1, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
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