DMX the new Michael Vick? Don't be too quick to believe Sheriff Joke.

Year of the dog, indeed: But in the case of DMX, it's Maricopa County's "Deputy Dawg."

One thing we know about Sheriff Joe Arpaio: He loves publicity more than the truth, human rights, the U.S. Constitution, and his own conscience, if he has one. That's why you should take the publicity stunt of raiding DMX's Cave Creek residence last week with a tractor trailer full of salt. The story's traversed the globe, garnering millions of page views of stories with Arpaio's name in them. Arpaio’s painted as the defender of dogs, specifically the undernourished pit bulls on the DMX compound that were taken into the MCSO's loving arms this past Friday, and rushed to the sort of air-conditioned luxury "Nickel Bag" Joe's Tent City inmates can only dream about. Certainly, that was the media splash the raid was intended to produce.

My first observation upon watching the video that's been run over and over again of deputies digging up dogs on the rapper's property was that Arpaio’s gone out of his way to draw the parallel between DMX and Michael Vick, even though by the MCSO's own admission, there's no evidence of dogfighting. Remember, that's what the Vick thing's about -- dogfighting. Not undernourished dogs, weapons (which may be legal, as far as we know), and, allegedly, drugs. (There was some pot on DMX's property somewhere? Hold me while I faint.)

Arpaio says it's all about protecting critters. Supposedly the MCSO got a tip two weeks ago about the alleged cruelty. Uh, if they were so concerned about the dogs, why did they wait 2 weeks? It's almost like they made certain DMX, real name Earl Simmons, was out of town as well. And of course, the raid had to happen on a Friday, with the local news cameras rolling. See, that way, the MCSO and Arpaio get a free ride for a whole weekend. Three days of uninterrupted, positive play. This coming Friday, they'll probably have another stunt ready for us.

Not one as good as DMX, of course. You know how many folks in the Valley keep dogs in similar conditions? But they aren’t DMX, with DMX's wacky rap sheet, which includes impersonating a federal agent and, well, whatddya know, animal cruelty. Could the fact that DMX is an internationally known performing artist have something to do with it? Nah. Though it's gotta be an added bonus that he's a black man, like Vick. Hey, Dick and Jane TV-watcher: See black celebrity in court with a plea deal for dogfighting. See black celebrity’s house raided by the MCSO in Cave Creek for mistreated canines. That ain’t no koinkydink, son.

Word from the wire is Vick just plead guilty today over this dogfighting ring mess. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sheriff on Nancy Grace tonight talking about Vick and DMX. See, it ain't about feeding dogs people, it's about feeding Arpaio's ego, getting his mug on the boob tube, generating enough press to overpower any negative pub he might receive, in the Saban lawsuit trial ongoing right now, or elsewhere. Whether DMX is ultimately charged with something or not, it doesn't matter. The Joe Show's ratings are through the roof. And that's the MCSO's raison d'etre.

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