Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in Kendall County, Illinois over the weekend and -- as expected -- got to talkin' about the pink undies he provides to inmates in his jails.
Arpaio told a crowd of GOP supporters that the inmates hate the pink skivvies, but he's "sure in San Francisco it would not be a problem," obviously referring to San Fran's large population of homosexuals -- and its stereotypical affinity for effeminate shades of pink.
The blatant homophobic remark was the least douchey comment America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff" made on his little trip.
Before we go any further, it should be noted that Gawker recently named Arizona the worst state in America (see New Times' response to Arizona's latest (gulp) honor here). The hit-hungry folks at the website cite Arizona's "insane lunatic cowboy wannabe" sheriff as part of the reason for Arizona being the worst of the worst.
In other words, Arizona's got a bit of an image problem at the moment, and Arpaio exporting his brand of wild west, fruitcake sheriffin' certainly isn't helping the situation.
That said, back to Illinois.
Maureen O'Donnell is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. She had a chance to witness Arpaio's appearance and speak with the man New Times readers affectionately refer to as "FF" (flaccid fool).
O'Donnell penned an article about the sheriff''s appearance at the GOP fundraiser in Kendall County, noting that Arpaio spoke to protesters before giving his speech.
Protesters aside, O'Donnell, it seems, got a dose of what most Arizonans have come to expect from the head of one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country.
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◆ [Arpaio] said he'd been busy conducting raids that arrested undocumented workers. "In the last two days, I raided a hotel, ... McDonald's, a Sizzler, Chinese places -- so I can't eat anywhere anymore. Mexican restaurant, I sure can't eat there."
◆ [Arpaio] corrected himself for saying the tents had reached 140 degrees in the Arizona heat at 2 p.m. Friday, saying, "It's really only 134 degrees." When asked about any possible public-health threat, given Chicago's experience with heat-wave deaths, he said, "I don't think it's unhealthy ... nobody died in a tent."
◆ [Arpaio] said the inmates hate his pink jailhouse underwear, but "I'm sure in San Francisco it would not be a problem." That drew one of the biggest laughs from the crowd.
◆ [Arpaio] said he took away inmates' coffee, cigarettes, and porn, only allowing them to view the movies "Lassie Come Home," "Old Yeller" and a Donald Duck film.
◆ [Arpaio] boasted about introducing "the only woman chain gang in the history of the world."
O'Donnell goes on to point out that Arpaio is constantly getting sued for his antics (taxpayers have doled out more than $50 million to defend the MCSO from lawsuits since Arpaio took office in 1993). Arpaio told O'Donnell he doesn't care about the lawsuits because his "polls go up every time" someone sues him.
Gawker might have a point -- the problem with Arizona is Arpaio's probably right.