Joe the Plumber feels so used 

Apparently there's a few things these two agree on.    (ap photo)

Oh, Joe the Plumber. You are such a parable about the disposability of modern political celebrity. Beltway Confidential remembers the first time you appeared on radar -- that Hosfstra debate where John McCain invoked you as the put-upon everyman he was fighting for. You became that day's lede -- on your way to being an enduring campaign metaphor.

You went on to appear on the CBS Evening News, you held press conferences, suddenly you were in huge demand for campaign rallies and interviews. You made the rounds of Fox News, Good Morning America and more. You flirted with a run for office, hired a media consultant, sounded off about Israel, gave speeches, wrote a book and considered recording a country album.

Almost exactly one year after your first surfaced, we encountered you again, this time in person -- at a "Washington's Funniest Celebrity" contest, where Beltway was judging and you were the special guest of Grover Norquist. Someone else wrote your jokes.

It seemed the perfect cautionary tale -- from blue collar obscurity to insta-celeb. The only thing missing was the bitter denouement, when you realized that you were not a genius, celebrity is fleeting, and that life -- like the campaign cycle -- moves on.

That moment may be at hand. But like many before you, you have found a way to stay relevant -- if only for a moment, in the slow news cycle of a federal holiday. The political world is abuzz -- you have trashed John McCain.

"John McCain is no public servant," Wurzelbacher said at a campaign rally Saturday in Pennsylvania for long shot gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer. Later, in an interview with Pennsylvania Public Radio, he dismissed the suggestion that he owes his fame to McCain.

"I don't owe him s-," Wurzelbacher said. "He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it."

"McCain was trying to use me," he said. "I happened to be the face of middle Americans. It was a ploy."


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Julie Mason

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