Americans are getting fatter and dumber

Ouch. Those are fighting words in some circles and just plain rude in others but they didn't stop Democratic White House hopeful Mike Gravel from making that assessment of the folks who might consider electing him their next leader.

The verbal evaluation gushed from an online debate mashup yesterday that featured all of the Democratic presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, and former Alaska senator Gravel. Slate, Yahoo! and the Huffington Post sponsored the debate.

According to an Associated Press report the mashers took questions from readers online and moderator Charlie Rose on a variety of topics from education and health care to the Iraq War. Comedian Bill Maher served up "wild card" questions on issues such as whether marijuana should be legalized.

It was on one of Maher's questions that Gavel unloaded. Maher told Gravel that obesity rates are up and reading levels are down and added that the "definition of a friend is someone who tells you the truth." Gravel replied that he was willing to be honest with the American people. "I'm prepared to tell you that Americans are getting fatter and dumber," the former Alaska senator said. "I have no problem saying that."

No truth to the rumor that Julie Brown's song "I like em big and stupid" was playing in the background.

It will be interesting to see if the general populace thinks Gravel is that honest friend giving and honest assessment or merely a dolt.

He certainly is entertaining and has made some stinging points in the past. This from a presidential debate in August:"Well, the first thing that you would do is to realize that terrorism is not a war. Our war on terrorism makes no sense. We've had ... terrorism since the beginning of civilization, and we'll have it to the end of civilization. It must be treated as a criminal act for what it is. The United States of America should now interface with Interpol and with other countries to bring these people to justice, but our government has done just the opposite."

And the dumb and fat notion wasn't the only poke he took at voters: "I've also said that Americans are going to get the government they deserve," Gravel said. "And so if things are going bad, just remember who put these people in power."

Maher, with his offbeat questions, provoked some interesting responses from the other candidates as well, the AP reported:

* Dodd told Maher he would not legalize marijuana, but would favor decriminalizing the drug in part to prevent prison overcrowding.

* Biden, asked to rank the relative dangers of high fructose corn syrup, coal soot or a terrorist strike, chose air with too much coal in it, followed by corn syrup. "But that is not in any way to diminish the fact that a terrorist attack is real," he added.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors (and yourself)