Named for ex-GOP Congressman and bribe-swallower extraordinaire Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the awards represent TPM's gilded single-finger salute to those miscreants in public life who tick us off the most, with categories and nominations concocted by readers of the feisty online gazette. Arpaio was the big winner in the category "Outstanding Achievement in Corruption-based Chutzpah," triumphing over jailed financial kingpin Allen Stanford four votes to one.
Former SF Weekly editor Jack Shafer also voted for Joe in the category "Meritorious Achievement in The Crazy," but there Arpaio lost out to kohl-eyed birther wingnut Orly Taitz, and perhaps rightly so. However, I like Shafer's explanation of his vote for Joe in that category best:
"I think that Joe Arpaio saw The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean too many times thinking it was a documentary and decided to emulate the man's story. When he starts hanging his prisoners, you'll know what I mean."
My only quibble would be that, at least in the John Huston film, Judge Roy Bean, played by Paul Newman, was kinda cool, scoundrel-wise, being pro-vice, pro-boozing and anti-establishment. The historical Bean, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have been as admirable as Houston's depiction, though both were deadly, disreputable men.
Arpaio's rule here in Sand Land is more pernicious then the Bean myth, and represents a sort of knee-jerk authoritarianism of the Mussolini variety. But anyway you cut it, our "shurf" gets props for malfeasance, corruption, and huevos (or in the Yiddish, chutzpah). So congrats, Joe! And kudos for all the shenanigans. You're putting Arizona on the corruption map, and way-way ahead of Illinois when it comes to vicious political chicanery.
Arpaio's asked by plaintiffs' counsel David Bodney about a quote in a 2007 Montini column, where Joe says, according to the depo, "[George Gascon] doesn't like me too much, I guess...but that's all right. My deputies will be going to arrest illegals right in his town."
Bodney pressed Joe on whether or not he uttered this, and Joe suggested that Montini might have bollixed it somehow.
"Well," he replied, "E.J. has a way of twisting words around, so I don't recall if it was in that context..."
Later, Joe's queried on whether or not he read the Montini article.
"You know," Joe responded, "I may have. Let me just say this. In all my conversations with E.J., we banter back and forth. That's what he does. He is pretty good at it, and we have fun talking. It doesn't mean everything he or I say is 100 percent true."
Seeing that Arpaio and Montini are such swell buds, I have no doubt E.J. will be dialing up Arpaio soon to "banter back and forth" about that "100 percent true" line. Of course, this is the same lawman who says he hasn't read his own book, and is unfamiliar with the content of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And anyway, every columnist needs grist for the grind. Now E.J. doesn't even have to read the entire deposition, much less watch it. All he has to do is borrow from the best. In other words, I've just written Montini's next column for him. Heh.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.