Monday night, faux right-winger Stephen Colbert showed how long it takes to make pastry out of Maricopa County's corrupt top constable: exactly six and a-half minutes.
The whole Colbert Report segment was predictably goofy. Sheriff Joe didn't even lead. Instead, he followed the second mate from the Maersk Alabama, Ken Quinn, and appeared in the final quarter of the show. You know, way past the bedtimes of his most faithful Sun City supporters. (If you missed it, you can watch the video, here.)
From jump, Colbert played Joe for every cheap laugh he could get, asking him about his gun-shaped tie clip, while running down some of Joe's major accomplishments in office -- pink underwear, chain gangs, yadda-yadda-yadda. Then Colbert wondered incredulously, "Why do I have picketers out front of my studio tonight?"
Joe ascribed it to the "illegal immigration problem." And Colbert went serious for a sec, asking about Joe's office focusing on illegal immigration and ignoring more serious crime. He mentioned the Pulitzer Prize handed out today to East Valley Tribune reporters Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin, awarded for pointing out the MCSO's lackadaisical crime fighting skills in their series "Reasonable Doubt."
Arpaio went for his "equal-opportunity law enforcement" line, telling Colbert that, "I lock everybody up," in his trademark growl. But the titters in the audience showed that it wasn't working. Arpaio was coming across as a buffoon, and not for the first or the last time in his life.
On the racial profiling tip, Colbert made some staff writer for his show happy by delivering this perfect line: "How do you, because I'm looking for a way to do this, how do you determine if someone might be Hispanic by not using your eyeballs?" He followed up by asking to see Joe's I.D., noting that "Arpaio" could be a Mexican surname. Later, when Joe doddered through his own resume, mentioning that he'd been "regional director of Mexico," Colbert asked to see Joe's I.D. again.
Colbert even got Joe to second guess himself when Arpaio mentioned that his parents came to the U.S. from Italy "legally." Colbert asked, "Illegally?" Joe then repeated himself, wondering if he'd slipped up. To which, Colbert replied, "I think you said `illegally,' but we could run the tape back."
At one point, Colbert commented satirically that, "We don't need to use habeas corpus anymore." Arpaio responded that MCSO follows all laws.
"Even habeas corpus?" mocked Colbert, rolling his eyes. "Okay, grandpa..."
Colbert effortlessly set Joe up for the big finale, asking him if he believed a border wall with Mexico was necessary. Colbert said he wanted one 200 feet high with a flaming pit full of alligators. Arpaio tried to spit out something about ladders. Colbert shot back, "Do they have ladder technology in Mexico?"
Joe stated that if there was a wall, he wanted to know what we'd do with those who climb over.
"Put them in jail," Colbert answered.
"Exactly," said Joe, probably about to go into his genius idea (mentioned in his latest book Joe's Law) that he be allowed to set up tent cities in the desert for offending aliens. Colbert cut him off before he got there.
"I say we build the wall out of the jails," asserted Colbert, absurdly. "They try to hop over the top, they fall right in, you lock the door."
Ba-dum-pa. All you needed was a clown to come out and shove a pie in Joe's face.
Basically, Colbert used Joe for his straight man for 6.5 minutes. The grumpy geezer might as well have been a stick of furniture. And for this, Arpaio had to miss a U.S. Senate hearing in Phoenix on border violence? Arpaio is a sad, pathetic, sadistic old man, grasping at every shred of attention as he goes down, ignoring his duties as a law man along the way. That's assuming he ever paid attention to them to begin with.