They say you're only as good as the company you keep.
Action star Steven Seagal likes to keep company with some of the world's so-called tough guys. His television show Steven Seagal: Lawman sprang from his friendships with two nationally famous sheriffs: Louisiana's Harry Lee and our own blowhard, Sheriff Joe. But the star seems to be taking his bromances to a new, international level.
Seagal's latest buddy is none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. The actor was quoted on a Russian television station in June as saying, "I'm Russian, I love Russia, I love Russian people, and I love your president." The two reportedly share a love of martial arts. But it seems Seagal's support (surprise, surprise!) also extends to Putin's politics.
The other day, he made a show of that support. Seagal reportedly performed with his blues band in Crimea, the troubled region of eastern Ukraine annexed by Russia in March. The Associated Press reports that the actor performed at a biker festival in Sevastopol on a stage decorated with pro-Russian separatist flags. And the show reportedly ended with Seagal holding up a shirt emblazoned with Russian President Vladimir Putin's face.
The United States, the European Union, and a host of nations have sanctioned Russia for its actions in the region. Russia sanctioned us right back.
So what does Sheriff Joe think of his old pal's less-than-popular stance? It's hard to say. He couldn't be reached for comment. In April, he told KTAR News that he didn't want to get in the middle. "I can't tell him what to say, who to say it with, who to visit," Arpaio reportedly told news editor Jeremy Foster. "There is a freedom of speech. If he wants to talk to President Putin, I can't stop him."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Sheriff Joe has had his own minor ties to Russia. In 2012, he appeared on the Russian government's international radio program, Voice of Russia, to raise doubts about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate. But that was long before the Crimea conflict.
So what does Arpaio's friendship with Seagal say about the company he keeps? Paul Penzone, Arpaio's opponent in the 2012 election, respectfully declined to comment on the matter.
What do you think?
Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.