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. VirginiaJeff

    This is a non-story.

    April 1, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  2. U.S. Common Sense

    "Obvious joke" my butt. If anyone has seen the video, the man was obviously confused and impaired while addressing the Admiral.

    April 1, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. Obamalism

    riiiight. I heard the audio, that was no joke and it happened well before April 1st.

    This guy is writing laws...

    April 1, 2010 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  4. chad

    lol! Keep it classy Georgia.

    April 1, 2010 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  5. oh please

    soooo...which is it? was it a joke, or did he lose track of what he was trying to say? either way...pulleeeze.

    April 1, 2010 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  6. Eli

    This is news? How about covering how Ron Paul predicted our economic collapse and knows how to fix it, but nobody wants to listen? Now thats a story!

    April 1, 2010 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  7. Mohammed Chawla

    The man typifies what is wrong with America. He is as dumb as a fence post and got elected by welfare recipients.

    Does anyone recall that he was the "upgrade" from Cynthia McKinney?One of those districts whose slogan is 'Vote for the Democrat of your choice'

    He voted for health care. Read the whole bill, and understood it, at least at it's uh… smallest level… uh smallest location… You know, where the page numbers are uh… at the widest part.

    I am sure he and Obama are also soul-mates. Like minded people, birds of same feather etc.

    April 1, 2010 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  8. Dave C

    I heard the audio, the man may be delusional, but he wasn't joking.

    I see his pic, does he bleach his face?? Maybe he's sniffing too much chlorine...

    April 1, 2010 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  9. Walker

    How is this news? This is ridiculous that it is even reported.

    April 1, 2010 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  10. JJ

    So who exactly was it that didn't get the joke? Limpbaugh?

    April 1, 2010 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  11. adam

    ummm...That was not an obvious joke BUT, you are obviously an idiot.

    April 1, 2010 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. benny

    if it be a republican he would of have to resigned no?

    April 1, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. Matt

    "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."

    How is this relevant CNN?

    April 2, 2010 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  14. Fed Up

    How cute!

    April 2, 2010 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  15. Michael

    Why is this a story?

    April 2, 2010 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  16. zlain

    This is silly, at best. Of course he was joking. Who would be offended about an island "capsizing"?

    April 2, 2010 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  17. Robrob

    Sounds like a pretty obvious metaphor. What's the issue?

    April 2, 2010 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  18. Chris

    humorless republicants, at it again. Jeez. (Oh, by the way, I don't mean Jesus, so don't call me a liberal atheist commie rat...it's just a saying)

    April 2, 2010 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  19. Larry Kraus

    what kind of brain is it that can take a comment about a island tipping over as a serious fact filled statement. there are people out there that have no clue about anything and i mean anything. the people that need that explained are the same ones that believe the universe is 6,000 years old. they also believe that people would ride dinosaurs. i wouldn't even give them the time of day for fear that they would want the term noon explained to them.

    April 2, 2010 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  20. Rick

    A compelling reason for term limits. Oh. I was obviously joking – NOT

    April 2, 2010 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  21. Aaron

    It was obvious that he was joking, not even a harmful joke.

    April 2, 2010 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  22. yurkidding

    Anybody who took him literally should surrender their right to vote, drive and drink as obviously they are not mature enough to recognize hyperbole when served up to them on a silver platter. I cannot fathom why he felt obligated to "clarify" his joking statement. Unfortunately, there is a large segment of the population that takes everything literally.

    April 2, 2010 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  23. Tom

    Yeah, that's it. It was a joke. Yeah......that's it.
    Honestly, I don't know anything about this guy, but I've come to the realization that these buffoons in Congress have one, and only one, talent. They're able to lie convincingly enough so that people contribute to their campaigns and vote for them. Aside from that they're a bunch of cretins.

    April 2, 2010 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  24. Joel

    Um... This is the sort of thing that needs to be clarified? Really?

    April 2, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  25. Al

    Today in 4/1 you know. Maybe this gentleman's humor was a bit too subtle for some.

    April 2, 2010 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
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