(WASHINGTON) — Looks like “Joe the Plumber” has landed himself a new job — and a new, unsavory nickname.
Just four days into his union job at Chrysler, Joe Wurzelbacher says a co-worker called him a “teabagger.”
Wurzelbacher catapulted into the national spotlight in 2008 when he questioned then-Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plan. After the encounter went viral, Wurzelbacher became something of a Republican icon, an example of Democrats quashing entrepreneurial spirit. Wurzelbacher campaigned for Sen. John McCain, scored a book deal and even made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House of Representatives — all as a staunch conservative.
But his hard-line views apparently aren’t endearing him to his new Chrysler colleagues.
In a letter posted Sunday, Wurzelbacher claims that he was taking a smoke break when a co-worker denounced him as a “teabagger” — a term used to deride members of the Tea Party movement (and, as Wurzelbacher points out, a descriptor for certain intimate activities).
“I’m outside on a break smoking a cigarette and right on cue — some guy calls me a ‘teabagger,’” Wurzelbacher writes. “I asked him if he recognizes the training we receive in the military in the trades as legitimate, but he didn’t seem interested in a serious discussion and just rushed off.”
Wurzelbacher contends that Democrats, “who are supposed to so tolerant and enlightened regarding homosexuals,” should be lambasted as hypocritical for using what he calls a gay “slur” to describe Tea Partiers.
A vocal opponent of public unions, Wurzelbacher has been called a hypocrite for joining the United Auto Workers Union. But he insists there’s no hypocrisy there. Chrysler requires its employees to join UAW, he argues. Besides, UAW is a private union, not a public one, which means that it’s the employees, not the taxpayers, who are potentially at risk.
“The employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,” he says.
“Since I became part of the zeitgeist I’ve been called a sellout many times,” says Wurzelbacher. “Yes, I’m a Republican who was cast into the limelight for having the temerity to confront Barack Obama on the question of redistributing wealth…But I’m a working man and I’m working.”
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN