Recalled, disgraced former state Senate President Russell Pearce's never been known as a friend to gay folks.
Well, save for one: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Ironically, Babeu -- who embraced his sexuality in 2012 after New Times exposed claims of harassment made by his undocumented Mexican ex-boyfriend -- legally could be discriminated against by Sand Land business owners if Governor Jan Brewer signs the "religious freedom" bill recently sent to her desk by the Arizona Legislature.
Same goes for other gay Americans who have served in this nation's military.
But Senate Bill 1062 wasn't the topic of discussion last week when Babeu was a guest on Pearce's radio show, which airs every Saturday at 7 p.m. on local conservative station 960 AM "The Patriot."
Still, the show began with, um, tongue-in-cheek references to male homosexuality, which involved Pearce, Babeu and the show's producer Sean McCaffrey.
Here's an excerpt:
Russell Pearce: Good evening, folks. Hey...thanks for hangin' in with us, uh, comin' back to see us on a Saturday night. We've got a great guest in the show tonight, uh, Sheriff Paul from--Babeu, for those who don't know how to...pronounce his name.
Pearce: But "Sheriff Paul" is what we call him. Sheriff Paul's been a friend of mine for a long time. Uh, he does a great job down there. I'm gonna push him to even do a better job. There's some things that need to be done down there. Got to go after illegal employers.
You know, I just got an e-mail tonight--and by the way, I wanna thank Sean for bein' here with me, as always...his efforts to, kinda like...kind of like my wife's job. He's got this effort to keep me in line; it's not always successful.
Sean McCaffrey: So I'm, I'm your radio wife. [Laughs.]
Pearce: [Laughs.] Yeah, you're my ra- ...
McCaffrey: I'm outta here!
Babeu: He has a beard.
Pearce: [Laughs.] Yeah.
McCaffrey: I'm outta here!
Pearce: [Laughs.] Yeah, really. Yeah, facial hair and all....
Last time I saw McCaffrey, whose Conservative Leadership Coalition sponsor's Pearce's show, he was sporting a Van Dyke beard. Don't know if he still does.
But of course, Babeu's comment is a play on the other meaning of the word "beard."
Glad to know these guys have a sense of humor.
The show soon got down to what Pearce does best, blaming all of society's ills on illegal immigrants from Mexico, a topic both he and Babeu can get together on.
Even if Babeu's idea of being "down on the brown" is way different than Pearce's.
Pearce was a big backer of Arizona's gay marriage ban, Prop 102, which passed by a statewide vote in 2008.
In one of his e-mail blasts from that same year, made public during a lawsuit by the ACLU, Pearce forwarded a diatribe entitled "Where Have All the Men Gone?"
Here's a memorable quote from it:
"Our nation was built by men who were self-reliant, independent and strong. Today they are tolerant, sensitive and genuflect at the feet of perverts called `gays.' Why is this?"
And yet, despite having such blatant anti-gay sentiments, Pearce praises Babeu incessantly throughout the show, thanking "Sheriff Paul," as he calls him.
"You always stuck very close to me, Sheriff," enthuses Pearce. "And [I'm] always grateful that I've gotten to know you much better since then."
Later in the show, he tells Babeu that, "I'm grateful for those like you, who stand up tall."
Is Pearce, uh, genuflecting here?
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I'm sure it's just that Pearce loves a man in uniform, in spite of himself.
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