Sometimes Fame Isn't Fleeting Enough

By Mike Marsh


Joe. The. Plumber. If seeing these three words doesn’t curl your lips into a brief sneer... well then you may lack a pulse.


Mr. Joe-The-Plumber, aka Sammy Wurzelbacher, is certainly one of the strangest “political” figures I have been treated to in my lifetime (I would say THE silliest, but of course there is always the inestimable Sarah of the North). To some extent, I guess, Joe was a victim of the McCain campaign’s death throws, as they cast about for something, anything, to make them appear relevant.


On the morning after the great Joe-the-Plumber debate, Joe claimed that he was as surprised as anyone to see his name up in lights, darn it. Who knows, it could be even be true. But I suspect not. And the reason I think this is because of how Joe has handled his subsequent 15 minutes of fame.


Most of us would have been thrilled by all the media attention and then gone back to our day jobs. Not Sam Wurzelbacher. He understands that this is the best thing that has happened to him. In fact, it’s the best thing that will EVER happen to him. But fame, as they say, is fleeting, and he needs to strike while the iron is hot.


So Joe-The-Plumber lawyered-up and got himself an agent. Well, haven’t we all done that at some point in our lives? And this hardworking agent has now arranged for Joe to get a music recording deal. (Move over, Sanjaya. You have met your match.) And he got Joe a book deal. (Watch out, Danielle Steele!) Joe’s mulling a run for Congress or even the US Senate, for gawd’s sake. And now Joe’s got a website. Who knew that Joe would prove such a 21st century Renaissance man?


You can see Joe’s website yourself, if you have a few idle minutes and the stomach for it. The address is . What is the website for, exactly? Joe is very clear on this: “It’s about WE THE PEOPLE, not we the Government”. Call me cynical. Maybe I am. But I think the website is really about helping Joe secure a few $100 bills, so he can buy that plumbing business he is hankering for.


You want to join Joe’s private on-line club so you can track his career and receive his latest insights? Great, just fork over $19.95. You want Joe’s book, Joe The Plumber - Fighting for the American Dream,so you can ponder his thoughts? No problem, but you gotta fork over another $24.95. Hardcover only, but a bargain, because one of the great questions of our time is “How-the-heck has Sam Wurzelbacher been fighting for us?” and this book promises to explain all. If the price seems steep, wait a few weeks and you can pick it up in your local book emporium’s remainder bin for $3, or 2-for-$5.


Now most of us understand Mr. Joe-The Plumber for what he is- an opportunist in the best sense of the word. There’s nothing wrong with that. My problem with him is why he ever got a shred of prominence. What is it about our debased political culture that allowed this nullity to get any media traction? Does he understand anything? Does he have any answers for our nation’s ills? Why did the McCain campaign pick him out as a symbol of something, and why did the media play along? It don’t think being an average Joe should be sufficient enough qualification to have your thoughts beamed into our national political consciousness, but apparently I am in the minority.