I went to a Bill Hunt for Sheriff fund-raiser tonight, and a Joe Arpaio Dinner Show broke out.
"America's Toughest Sheriff"--so called because he houses jail inmates in tents under an unrelenting sun, issues them pink underwear, chains women prisoners together, enforces federal immigration laws and spends pennies for chow line meals--made the trip from Maricopa County, Arizona, to, appropriately enough, the Phoenix Club in Anaheim to campaign on behalf of the former Orange County sheriff's lieutenant who came closest to defeating his ex-boss Mike Carona at the polls (before Carona finally defeated himself).
As Hunt, who chose retirement over a demotion for daring to run against Carona, put it to his approving audience, "It m
ay have cost me my career in the short term, but I'm standing before you tonight and the other guy is heading to jail."
Despite game warm-up acts that included a James Madison impersonator, former Graham County, Arizona, Sheriff Richard Mack (whose claim to fame was overcoming a challenge by the Clinton White House to win a Supreme Court ruling that found parts of the Brady gun control bill unconstitutional) and sign-toting, drum-banging, chant-chanting, anti-Arpaio, pro-immigrant protesters outside, the night's main attraction had 'em rolling in the aisles.
In fact, here are the 18 best lines Arpaio peeled off.
1) "I apologize for the protesters outside. They go wherever I go, If you know a good Mexican restaurant, go and tell them where it is. I know in Phoenix I can't go to a Mexican restaurant. When I walk in, most of the workers run out the back door or spit in my food."
2) "[Hunt] and I come from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We are probably the only two Republicans who came from there. We're both out west now. I'm older than he is. When I retire, I'll ride off into the sunset, but I don't ride a horse. I'll use a convertible."
3) "I'm a senior citizen. Sometimes I pick up a lot of votes because of that, especially in Sun City. When I talk in Sun City, I always tell them my age. In Scottsdale, which is snotty, kind of like Orange County, I tell them I'm 45."
4) "When I first ran for sheriff, I made a mistake. I've been married for 53 years. That's not the mistake. I never see my wife. The mistake I made was I said the sheriff should be appointed, not elected. If I had been appointed, I would have been fired 17 years ago. There would be no tents, no underwear, no nothing."
5) [Looking around for Hunt while talking about the candidate] "Where's Bill? Is he trying to get votes outside? I hope he speaks Spanish."
6) "We got Army tents from New Mexico. We made a midnight requisition. We set them up at a waste disposal plant. A half million people have gone through the tents. We only put the convicted people there. The 8,000 innocent people are in jail."
7) "We went to the Supreme Court. I got sued because I took away [inmates'] porno. They sued me, and I won that case. They try to sue me all the time. They can sue my toilet."
8) [After being informed Bill Campbell was the member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors who'd recently visited his tents] "Why isn't he here? I'm here. Your sheriff [Sandra Hutchens] did not come. A captain did. I told the captain, 'Why are you here? Where is the sheriff?' He said, 'I dunno.'"
9) "I'm tough on animal abuse. If you abuse a dog, cat or horse, you are put in pink handcuffs. You go directly to jail. I don't care who it is. We just arrested a 61-year-old lady. She had all these animals. I had a nice jail that was empty and air conditioned because the inmates are in tents. So that's where we put the animals. But I put my foot in my mouth. I said we paid more to feed the dogs than the inmates."
10) "We have 300 dogs. They'll spend 20 years behind bars, then we'll euthanize them. We have a special area for the cats. Someone called it Sheriff Joe's Cathouse."
11) "I'm opposed to house arrest. You get to go have a drink, do porno."
12) "I do get celebrities. My friend [Glen] Campbell did 10 days in jail. I had him do a little concert for me. Mike Tyson had to be isolated a little in the tent. He likes biting ears. Can you imagine the lawsuits if he bit other inmates' ears?"
13) "I spent 25 years in drug enforcement. I'm one of the people who knows what a border is. Most politicians wouldn't know where to find it."
14) "Nine [federal] attorneys came after me, investigated me, because I enforce all of the laws. Sad, very sad. So I kicked them all out. I gave the FBI director pink underwear. They got very quiet."
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15) "These guys outside have signs of me with Hitler, Nazis. They brought some of their signs. They hold them in front of my office in Maricopa County. I could pay them to do it every day. I had Al Sharpton come out [to protest]. I raised a lot of money from that. I should have paid for a first-class ticket for him."
16) "I've been sheriff for five terms. . . . I could be governor, but I don't want to be governor. I want to be sheriff. I get more press in one day than the governor does. And, two: I can lock up the governor."
17) "I've stopped human smugglers heading for California. You people should thank me. Why doesn't The Terminator call?"
18) "If they don't like me, don't insult the uniform. That's what they do: insult the uniform. One thing they know is I'm elected, they can't get rid of me. That's why I'm running again. I have a book titled America's Toughest Sheriff. My next one is going to be America's Oldest Sheriff."