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Congressman’s Island-Capsizing Query Goes Viral

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Declan McCullagh
C Net News
Saturday, April 3, 2010

Only a few years ago, a member of Congress serving up an inane comment in a congressional hearing would have merited a brief gossip column mention, or more likely gone unnoticed.

Unfortunately for Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, his bizarre question about the island of Guam possibly tipping over–he used the word “capsize”–if additional troops were stationed there became a YouTube sensation on Thursday.

It’s no April Fools’ Day joke: the 55-year-old congressman and member of the House Democratic leadership told a naval officer who was testifying on March 25 that: “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”

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For emphasis, Johnson leaned to his left and added hand motions suggesting a large vessel tipping into the sea.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Admiral Robert Willard, the head of U.S. Pacific Command who was testifying, paused briefly and offered a deadpan response: “We don’t anticipate that. The Guam population, I think, currently about 175,000 and, again, with 8,000 Marines and their families, it’s an addition of about 25,000 more into the population.” Williard did add, helpfully, a moment later that Guam is part of the United States.

It took a few days for the video to surface, but once it did on Thursday, it did with a vengeance. National Review quipped: “Presumably, when you’re the head guy of a major fleet for a big-time navy, you’ve got plenty of other ways of filling your time other than reassuring congressmen on whether miscellaneous land masses are likely to tip over and sink.” Conservative bloggers Michelle Malkin and at RedState.com chimed in, as did The Hill newspaper and the Los Angeles Times.

Full story here.

This article was posted: Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm





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