By Paul Rubin
Calling it a "low blow," Sheriff Joe Arpaio has rejected a request by a respected local journalist to take a lie-detector test to "prove" he hasn't masturbated while on duty as the county's top lawman.
The sheriff, currently is running for re-election against Democrat Dan Saban, indicated to Channel 3's ace reporter Mike Watkiss that neither he nor his controversial Chief Deputy David Hendershott would be ponying up to the polygraph box anytime soon.
Watkiss, seen here, has done his share of Joe-friendly stories over the years (who in local TV hasn't?).
But this time he said screw it, and confronted the angry old "lawman" late last week as the cameras whirred in downtown Phoenix.
That led to a short, testy and classic exchange between the pair as onlookers gasped in amazement.
Coming on the heels of one of the more revolting hit-piece ads to land on local airwaves in some time, the subtext of the scrappy Watkiss' frontal assault (so to speak) on "America's Toughest (no one ever has suggested horniest) Sheriff" was obvious to those on hand.
That anti-Saban 30-second blurb, paid for by the Republican Party at the behest of the so-called "Arizonans for Public Safety" (this whole thing really does smell of Chief Hendershott, the longtime power behind the throne at MCSO), "alerted" viewers to some alleged vile skeletons in Saban's closet.
Sounding vaguely disgusted, the woman narrator speaks of "allegations of rape" against Saban, as well as an investigation into Saban "exposing himself to a child," and finally (voila!) Saban's having masturbated "on county time." Fade to black.
Indeed, during a lawsuit that Saban filed against Arpaio and sheriff's officials in 2005, he testified that, as a deputy county sheriff about 30 years ago, he had played some pocket pool while on duty. Must have been a slow night out in Aguila, or wherever the young deputy was on patrol.
Whatever. The emission, um, admission, came in response to a question from Arpaio/Thomas (as in Andy) hatchetman, lawyer Dennis Wilenchik, that seemed designed solely to embarrass Saban.
Saban eventually lost the civil case, though some jurors, after rendering their verdict, said they'd be voting for him over Arpaio in next month's election.
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Promise, these stories also will tell you more than you need to know about the "rape" and "indecent exposure" allegations.
Bottom line, Watkiss' royal fuck-you to the powerful little man who routinely calls himself "This Sheriff," in classically narcissistic third-person style, was a long time coming.
But, as of last night, the clip of the tit-for-tat on the streets of downtown Phoenix hadn't appeared on Channel 3, and who knows when or if it ever will.