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Critic's Notebook: So sad to see you go, Joe (the Plumber)

November 4, 2008 |  1:24 pm

Joe the Plumber played out what may have been the final seconds of his 15 minutes of fame in an increasingly angry exchange with CNN’s Rick Sanchez, who wanted to know exactly why a man clearing way less than $250,000 was so worried about Barack Obama’s proposed tax plan. "Principles," Joe (a.k.a. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, unlicensed plumber) answered, explaining that he didn’t like the idea of someone’s "hard-earned money" being taken away and given to those who "maybe didn’t get the breaks, maybe didn’t work so hard."

Sanchez, who is nothing if not zealous, wanted to know more. Why such touching concern for some unnamed rich folk? Did Joe think poorer Americans should be taxed more and rich Americans taxed less? Where did he think roads came from anyway? How would we fund firefighters or police forces without taxes?

Wurzelbacher spluttered and fumed almost as furiously as the candidate he supports and wanted to know why Sanchez was asking all these questions, why he wasn’t "vetting Obama," the way he was vetting him, Joe the Plumber. "I just asked a candidate a question," Wurzelbacher said, as he has said 1,000 times before. "Why don't you ask me a good question, like what I'm going to do next?"

"No, Joe," Sanchez informed him. "You endorsed a political candidate. You held press conferences. You thrust yourself into this campaign so you need to answer the tough questions."

Wurzelbacher once again referred to principles, suggesting that Sanchez look the word up in the dictionary since he seemed to be having so much trouble understanding. In fact, Wurzelbacher seemed about one indignant snort away from hanging up when Sanchez, perhaps sensing that this wouldn’t play so well on election day, began his polished pull back. "Well, good conversation," he said with his best wide and crazy smile as Wurzelbacher continued to makes sounds of outrage into the phone. "Thanks for taking the time."

Indeed.

-- Mary McNamara

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