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. Karl

    People needed clarification, that an island would not actually tip and capsize into the ocean? So goes our "Military Intelligence". "Admiral Willard replied that the military did not expect the island to tip over." Next time say it right. "An island cannot "tip over" you nincompoop.

    April 1, 2010 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  2. Karen in Charlotte

    Seriously ... somebody actually thought he wasn't joking?

    April 1, 2010 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. Jon from Glenview, Il

    Really? Is our military/media THAT lacking in the sense of humor department? Help us all...

    April 1, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  4. Tell the Truth

    He can say whatever he wants, but if you watch the video it is clear he was not joking. The guy is just plain dumb.

    April 1, 2010 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. Randi L.

    This comment does sound like an obvious attempt at a joke. There's no story here.

    April 1, 2010 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. ALGU

    You have to listen to the exchange to really clarify his actions! He must have taken three minutes trying to describe the size of this island,Guam, to the admiral and clearly got "lost in thought in the middle of a discuusion". The Admiral must have been holding back histarical laughter at how ignorant the whole line of questioning was. Why can't the press figure this out, and believe this CYA excuse after!!!!!!! You gotta watch this and judge for yourself!!!!!!

    April 1, 2010 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. Steve

    I am about as far from being a supporter of this guy as anyone can be, but I can't believe this is a story. The guy was so clearly making a joke. Maybe you just have to know Southerners, and the slow, deadpan humor some Southerners have.

    April 1, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  8. S.Hayes

    You, at CNN, of course thought he was kidding! You're kidding me!

    April 1, 2010 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  9. IG = Independent Gary

    People are too sensitive...he was kidding...give him a break.

    April 1, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. JX

    Seriously.. is this really a story? Did ANYONE actually think he was serious... and this one paragraph shows how ridiculous our political atmosphere is, AND the media choice to cover such NOTHING issues,

    "Admiral Willard replied that the military did not expect the island to tip over"

    I can't believe he actually felt compelled to have to say that...
    I can't believe I actually read about it on CNN...
    What would be even worse would be if someone NEEDED him to say that to clarify...

    We've all gotten a little STUPIDER after today....

    Oh wait, I get it... April Fools...

    April 1, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  11. Ridgeway

    He believes it. I can tell.

    April 1, 2010 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. Debbie1964

    After watching the video, he was not joking. I can't believe he is in Congress and people actually voted for him. How Stupid can 1 person be. Maybe someone should write him a speech before he opens his mouth!

    April 1, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. Typical Democratic 8th Grade Intellect.....

    this is the type of Democratic leadership we are getting....

    April 1, 2010 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  14. Iben Hakenluggis

    What a tool ...

    April 1, 2010 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  15. jmcguirefh

    I lived in Guam for four years in the Nineties and it was way too crowded then. I can't imagine how overcrowded the island is now! The basic infrastrcuture of the island is so rundown and overused, I can't imagine the military moving anyone there. Obviously the decision is being made by persons that will never have to endure the overcrowding. What is it about America that is dead set on overcrowding everything?

    April 1, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  16. GFD

    Yes, 3,000% of a joke; it was spoken in the Austrian language, that's why some didn't get it, but from all 57 States at least seven got it.

    April 1, 2010 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  17. Colorado

    I'm a registered Independant. I voted for Obama. I watched Hank Johnson make this statement to the Admiral a few times and don't believe for a second he was joking. My first thought? ->what an idiot. After reading about his medical ailment, now I think -> he's clearly not fit to serve.

    April 1, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  18. A. Smith, Oregon

    Leaving the nonsense of tipping over the island of Guam. Why not ask, WHY does America continue to pour Hundreds of Billions of American taxpayer dollars into WW2 and Cold War era useless and unused military bases in some 700 locations around the world?

    The Cold War era Pentagon propeller heads should retire and America should retire 90% of ALL overseas military bases.

    Take those Hundreds of Billions of America's taxpayer dollars and either pay down the National Debt. or reinvest that enormous amount of treasure keeping those bases open and running BACK into America's domestic spending.

    April 1, 2010 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  19. "Tea Party Texan"

    Just no way for some not to show their ignorance. But this is the way OBAMA feels. Impeach this man before he totally ruings America.

    April 1, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    That did not sound like a joke in the video.

    April 1, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  21. paul peabody

    sorry is it just me,,or is this a serious article,,,I am very impressionable and gullible,,but of course this guy didnt think Guam would tip over right??? I was there one overnight on my way to Osaka,,,a freaky place,,,however. Kind of a no mans land it seemed

    April 1, 2010 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. Arlen

    Was this democrat serious? April fools joke or what? what kind of constituency keeps a lunatic like this in office?

    April 1, 2010 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  23. Gop

    I'm never shocked by the things these stupid liberal Democrats say any more!

    April 1, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  24. Joel H

    The man, clearly, is a fool.

    April 1, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  25. CC

    My district used to be represented by a raging communist.
    Now it is represented by an idiotic socialist.
    We just can't win.

    April 1, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
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