TX 'Joe the plumber' cashes in on debate

October 16, 2008 10:55:02 AM PDT
There's one "Joe the Plumber" who is already better off thanks to John McCain and Barack Obama. Phones rang off the hook Thursday in the Amarillo office of plumber Joe Francis, whose Web site joetheplumber.com became an instant Internet curiosity the day after the final presidential debate.

McCain and Obama made multiple references to Ohio resident Joe Wurzelbacher -- now famously "Joe the Plumber" -- while sparring over their tax policies. But the name-dropping also reached to West Texas, about 1,200 miles away from the Ohio plumber, where Francis found his business suddenly in the spotlight.

Entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on a quick buck have called about buying the Web address. But many more are wanting T-shirts with the company logo, which features a droopy-eyed cartoon plumber revealing the ubiquitous "plumber's crack" above his pants.

"I'm taking orders," said Ronnie Bishop, who works with Francis. "It's kind of wild."

Francis was out elk hunting Thursday so couldn't be reached for comment. But Francis did see the debate Wednesday night, Bishop said. While Wurzelbacher hasn't said who he'll be voting for in November, Bishop said he thinks Francis is leaning toward McCain.

Bishop said their small plumbing outfit started getting calls during the debate. The publicity kept Bishop busy again Thursday with offers for the Web address, T-shirts and interviews with media.

Bishop said Francis, a 38-year-old father of two, could part ways with the Web site address.

But any uptick in calls to unclog drains or fix busted pipes?

"I hope it keeps us busy," Bishop said. "We're not too busy, though."

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