Continuing the mainstream media's dogged pursuit of the truth, Thursday's "Nightline" breathlessly asserted that Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher isn't really named Joe. In a segment on the Ohio man who quizzed Senator Barack Obama about his tax plan, co-anchor Martin Bashir derided, "But his name's not Joe and he's not a registered plumber. And those are only half his problems."
Of course, his middle name is Joseph. Continuing to harp on this subject, reporter Jake Tapper alerted, "And it turns out Joe the plumber is not even technically named Joe...His name is Sam, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher." Now, although it took the media almost a year to report on Jeremiah Wright, Obama's radical preacher, Bashir announced that in the case of Wurzelbacher, "It wasn't long before the media pounced. But with the spotlight has come some scrutiny." Before launching into an investigation of Joe the plumber, Tapper chided, "The McCain campaign did not necessarily vet Joe, it seems." (Do voters need to be vetted before they're allowed to ask Obama a question?)
Explaining Wurzelbacher's own tax problems, Tapper observed, "And while Joe would certainly appreciate no new taxes, he's not fond of old ones either. It seems the state of Ohio filed a lien against him last year for $1,182.98 in unpaid personal income taxes."
If only members of the media had shown this much interest in Reverend Wright or Obama's associations with terrorist bomber William Ayers, their fascination over a man with a plumbing business wouldn't seem so odd.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 11:57pm on October 16, follows:
MARTIN BASHIR: And, say it ain't so, Joe. John McCain called Joe the plumber the winner of last night's debate. But his name's not Joe and he's not a registered plumber. And those are only half his problems.
BASHIR: It's been a remarkable rise to fame for a man known as Joe the plumber. He asked a question of Barack Obama that John McCain used repeatedly in last night's debate. It wasn't long before the media pounced. But with the spotlight has come some scrutiny. As Jake Tapper now reports.
JAKE TAPPER: For john McCain, Joe the plumber seemed too good to be true. On Sunday, while Barack Obama was reaching out to voters in a working class suburb of Toledo in battleground state Ohio-
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: What's your name?
JOE WURZELBACHER: Name's Joe Wurzelbacher.
OBAMA: Good to see you, Joe.
TAPPER: Joe Wurzelbacher suddenly appeared. An independent working class voter, Joe was worried about Barack Obama's proposed tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.
WURZELBACHER: I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes $250, 270, $280,000 a year. Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?
OBAMA: Listen, I respect what you do and I respect your question. And, you know, even if I don't get your vote, I'm still going to be working hard on your behalf.
TAPPER: For Republicans, Joe became a symbol of the average American's resistance to Obama's proposed tax increases. And then on Wednesday in Hampstead, New York, at the third and final presidential debate, Joe Wurzelbacher, who McCain called-
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Joe Wurzelburger [sic]
TAPPER: -officially became Joe the plumber.
MCCAIN: Joe the plumber is out there.
OBAMA: Now, the conversation I had with Joe the plumber-
MCCAIN: Joe was trying to realize the American dream.
OBAMA: Additional tax cuts to Joe the plumber --
MCCAIN: You're going to take Joe's money, give it to Senator Obama-
TAPPER: And at times, it seemed as if Joe the plumber that only voter either candidate cared about. The media too.
["Good Morning America" clip]
DIANE SAWYER: Do you like being known as Joe the plumber?
WURZELBACHER: You know, my son is digging it.
TAPPER: Media interest seen around the world. Today, McCain did his best to keep this symbol alive.
MCCAIN: The real winner last night was Joe the plumber.
TAPPER: McCain hinted today, he'll soon be campaigning with Joe, but it's not clear that would be such a great idea. The McCain campaign did not necessarily vet Joe, it seems. First of all, it's not clear Joe would have his taxes increased under Barack Obama.
SAWYER: You're not taking home $250,000 now, am I right?
WURZELBACHER: No. No, not even close.
TAPPER: And Joe today clarified that the business will cost him more than $250,000, not that it will net him that much in profits. So, as of now, Joe might even be eligible for a tax cut under Obama. And while Joe would certainly appreciate no new taxes, he's not fond of old ones either. It seems the state of Ohio filed a lien against him last year for $1,182.98 in unpaid personal income taxes. And it turns out Joe the plumber is not even technically named Joe and he's not technically a plumber either. His name is Sam, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. And in the state of Ohio, Joe is not a licensed plumber, which he would need to be to run that plumbing business. Wurzelbacher has now gone from being a mythical figure to being fodder for late-night comedy shows.
JON STEWART: Why are we vetting this guy, Joe the plumber guy? He's already done more interviews than Sarah Palin.
TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper for "Nightline" in New York.
BASHIR: Politics and plumbing, not a happy mixture.