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Johnson hammered over Guam comment

Hank Johnson

Hank Johnson

CONYERS -- Rep. Hank Johnson should perhaps leave the jokes to the professionals.

Johnson, D-Decatur, became the latest Internet object of curiosity with a video on YouTube showing him suggesting to a United States Navy admiral Thursday that the Pacific island of Guam could "tip over and capsize" if too many U.S. Marines are stationed there.

Johnson expressed his worries during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget last Thursday. Adm. Robert Willard was addressing the committee on impacts associated with relocating 8,000 Marines to Guam.

In the video, which has been viewed more than 160,000 times as of Thursday, Johnson is heard telling Willard, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize."

Willard paused for a moment and responded, "We don't anticipate that."

Johnson issued a statement Thursday afternoon that stated that he was kidding when he said that he believed the island of Guam would literally tip over, but was trying to make a point during the committee hearing.

He said in the prepared statement that with the additional 8,000 Marines, and the additional 80,000 people during peak construction on the island, that it could be "a tipping point which could adversely affect the island's fragile ecosystem and could overburden its stressed infrastructure.

"Having traveled to Guam last year, I saw firsthand how this beautiful -- but vulnerable island -- could easily become overburdened, and I was simply voicing my concerns -- albeit with a dry sense of humor," Johnson said in the statement, "that the addition of that many people could tip the delicate balance and do permanent harm to Guam."

Comments left by viewers on the YouTube Web site were hard on Johnson.

"Are you smarter than a 5th grader? How embarrassing. I'm glad I'm not from his district," wrote one poster. "... the people who elected this man should lose their right to vote .. Kudos to the Admiral for not losing it," wrote another poster.

Others came to Johnson's defense. "Get over it already. The man was using a metaphor. Clearly, you are such a 'Democrat hater' that all you want to do is tear them down at any opportunity," said another poster.