Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Joe the Plumber' adds to Lori Klein's kook credentials by Laurie Roberts - Arizona Republic

by Laurie Roberts, columnist - Aug. 15, 2012 12:00 AM
The Republic |

It's the final week to request an early ballot for the primary, and the kookometer is waving wildly. Nowhere more so than in Prescott, where one of our esteemed legislators invited an Ohio congressional candidate to come help her raise funds last weekend.

He proceeded to explain how to solve our illegal-immigration problem.

"For years I've said, you know, put a damn fence on the ... border going to Mexico and start shootin'," Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber," said during a Friday fundraiser for our favorite gun-toting lawmaker, none other than state Sen. Lori Klein.

"I'm running for Congress, and that should be a bad thing to say," he continued. "You know what, that's how I feel. I'm not going to hide it because I'm running for an office. I want my borders protected. I'm very, very, uh, uh, adamant about that."

Actually, I think most people want the border protected. I'm just assuming the sane ones wouldn't suggest turning the place into a rootin' tootin' shootin' gallery.

They wouldn't, would they?

Given that Klein didn't immediately move to distance herself from Wurzelbacher's comments -- which he repeated on Saturday during Klein's "Patriot Rally" in Dewey -- I thought I'd offer her a chance on Tuesday to put a little daylight between her and her "honored guest."

Already one of her opponents for a legislative seat, House Speaker Andy Tobin, has questioned Wurzelbacher's comments, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake flat out decried them.

"Here's one Republican hoping that Joe the Plumber plies his politics far from Arizona," Flake tweeted on Monday evening.

Could Klein do less, given that Wurzelbacher was in Arizona speaking at her request and for her benefit?

"He was joking," she told me on Tuesday. "He was not serious. He was certainly tongue in cheek, and I think the media making such a thing of this is ridiculous.

"He was making an expression that we do need to be strong on the border. And, furthermore, Laurie Roberts, I absolutely have no respect for you as a journalist for the things you said about members of the Legislature."

Those of you who have followed Operation Dekookification know that Klein made my list of top 10 kooks at the Capitol. (To see the list, along with my picks for keepers and up-and-comers, go to

The Anthem Republican was redistricted out of her Senate seat and is now hoping to snag one of the House slots held by Tobin and Rep. Karen Fann.

Among the reasons Klein achieved kookdom status was her love affair with her raspberry pink Ruger -- going so far as to point it at a Republic reporter -- her 19th-century bid to bring back nullification and her decision last year to stand up on the Senate floor and read an unverified letter from a substitute teacher who complained that Hispanic students refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because they hate America, refused to speak English and tore up textbooks.

Klein seemed far more interested Tuesday in talking about that letter than the appropriateness or lack thereof of shooting people on sight if they cross the border.

"I have very little respect for the lies that you told because you basically said in your thing about the kookification that I read a letter that was fictitious," she said.

"Well, the fictitious guy who wrote the letter, by the way, exists. His name is Tony Hill. He worked as a substitute teacher and, furthermore, I got hundreds of letters from teachers all over this state, all over the country verifying that these types of incidents of disruption in classes happen all of the time with people who do not want to speak our language.

"So, Laurie Roberts, I have no respect for you because you've lied in your reporting, and I have nothing further to say to you."

Actually, I never said that the teacher was fictitious, merely that the school district investigated his claims after Klein read the letter publicly and found them to be inaccurate.

Sadly, Klein hung up before I could point that out or return to the subject at hand, which was her defense of Wurzelbacher's comments. It's a shame, too, because I'd have liked to ask her one more question about his "joke."

Was it funny?

Reach Roberts at or 602-444-8635.

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