Meet the Sheriff Who Tweets About Sarah Palin’s Underwear

Here's a pair of pink handcuffs for you, Bolshevik. With love from Sheriff Joe Arpaio. XOX - LOL - LMAO!!

Actually, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County didn’t just tweet Sarah Palin’s underwear. He gave them to her first.

CNN’s political blog relates the story that when Gov. Palin visited his the “controversial” sheriff’s county, he gave her pair of pink underwear and then tweeted about it on his account, “RealSheriffJoe,” which has over 14,000 followers now.

I have no idea how many it had before he tweeted about Palin’s underwear, but this isn’t Joe Arpaio’s first time. He’s not just some fly-by-night garden-variety weirdo forking over skivvies to a famous woman in public and then scampering back into the darkness half a minute ahead of Kevin Costner to update his stalker-wall page with telephoto snapshots of the woman marked “MuSt GiVe hEr PAntIeS!!” No, this is a special kind of weirdo and a special kind of underwear — and it’s not just for Sarah! It’s for all of us!!

Truth be told, I’m betting the “tough-on-crime,” anti-illegal-immigration Arpaio, who claimed this summer that a Mexican drug gang had put a $1 million bounty on his head, has previously tweeted more than once about pink underwear given to others of his “guests.”In fact, his obsession with underwear approaches Lyndon B. Johnson territory. Will a pink-underwear craze take the American Far Right by storm?

Y’see, the pair in question aren’t the sort of novelty knickers emblazoned DANGER! JET EXHAUST! KEEP BACK 30 FEET (which was my vote) but a pair of “America’s Toughest Underwear,” the pink boxer shorts inmates at Maricopa County’s Phoenix Jail are issued, which you can also buy yourself, along with pink handcuffs and  Yes, they really call them “America’s Toughest Underwear” What, you think I make this stuff up?

Okay, okay, so why do they wear pink underwear? Let’s let the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office explain:

The MCSO uniform is now black and white stripes for every inmate and of course our world famous pink boxer shorts. The boxer shorts were dyed pink to prevent the inmates from walking off with the white trunks. Now that the boxers are pink, it is easy to determine if an inmate is stealing underwear at the time of his release. And of course most men, especially those in jail, do not like the color pink. With the theft of jail underwear down, the county taxpayer saved over $70,000 the first year the pink underwear were issued.

But that’s not all! The underwear shills at (Yes!!! It’s really called!!!! Doesn’t that make your overnight stay in the pokey for public urination just that much more more celebratory?!?!) explain that pink knickers just weren’t enough for the Desert’s Dick Tracy! Think pink, Arizona! Here’s to tell you all about it:

When Sheriff Joe learned that Maricopa County Inmates were stealing their jailhouse whites, he had all the boxers dyed pink. Inventory control improved, so the undershirts followed – then the sheets, socks, towels, and everything down to the handcuffs.

Of course, Sheriff Joe still issues the old fashioned black-and-white prison stripes that have been featured on national news. You can see Sheriff Joe’s PINK HANDCUFFS and prison stripes on Maricopa County chain gangs or at the Sheriff’s web-cast booking sessions on

Joe Arpaio has proudly served as Maricopa County Sheriff since 1993. Sheriff Joe’s PINK UNDERWEAR, PINK HANDCUFFS, and his innovative law enforcement programs have been featured in more than 2,000 U.S. and foreign newspapers, magazines, and TV.

They sell some other stuff, too, though in some cases I have no idea what. For instance, can somebody, please God, can somebody tell me what in the screaming holy name of Christ the Lord this is supposed to be?

Some sort of baby, I think. But why are Arizona law enforcement officers a) incarcerating babies and b) beheading them?

I can’t even tell you how many flavors of scream that thing is going to put in my nightmares between now and the day I thankfully shuffle off this mortal coil. Pink Underwear, however, is no help at all. Sure, you can read the product description: “Golf Cover,” but I have to meet them more than halfway to get to the conclusion: “Oh! I get it. It’s a golf club cover. I impale the incarcerated baby on my golf club, and then my impaled headless baby has a head again! My spit-roasted prisoner-baby has a golf club head!”

Oh, of course. In that case…no problem.

It all benefits the Youth Assistance Foundation, “a non profit organization that recognizes the social value of supporting programs focused on preventing youth violence and promoting social development, role models and interaction with law enforcement personnel.”

But is it that simple?

If you know anything about pink underwear, you know it’s never that simple.

The sales originally seem to have benefited the Sheriff’s own impaled baby, the nonprofit Posse Foundation, which recruited citizens to serve as volunteers in law enforcement and to receive law enforcement training, including firearms training. (Arizona is an open carry state, incidentally.)

The MCSO website says of the Posses, “These volunteer, non-compensated positions are made up of people from all walks of life that want to do law enforcement work as a way to give back to their community.” But Phoenix New Times claimed the program didn’t go so well, with taxpayer funds being used to train people who never showed up for their duties. You won’t hear that from Arpaio’s office, of course.

New Times Publishing (publisher of the Phoenix New Times) sued Arpaio in 1997 after they claim they were stonewalled in seeking records over the proceeds of the underwear sales, which at least one public employee, Maricopa County detention officer David Cool, said involved public personnel even though it benefited a nonprofit. From the Phoenix New Times:

[Cool] says he participated in audits of pink-underwear inventories while on duty as a detention officer working in [Sheriff’s Director David] Hendershott’s enforcement-support bureau, and that he was responsible for maintaining receipts and delivery orders for the underwear. Cool also says Hendershott ordered supplies of the underwear without the Posse Foundation’s knowledge or permission.

The New Times called it Undie-Gate.

But you know, personally I like to think of it as a 1960s sex-spy comedy and call it “The Pink Underwear Caper.” But when I do that, I get far too vivid a picture of reality. Are Sarah and Todd, right now, enjoying coffee in their seaside villa and chatting about how lovely Russia looks this morning about to trade a few passionate kisses, and a minute later these rosy sweet nothings will hit the floor? Bam!! More arch-conservative offspring. I think I like Undie-Gate much, much better.

But whatever you call it, believe it or not, we haven’t heard the last of the pink underwear scandal yet.

By the way, in case you missed it, Arpaio is the one who’s so tough on crime he reinstituted chain gangs and expanded the jail by setting up up a tent city for inmates in an area where summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. It got national coverage at the time and even got Sheriff Joe his own page on Snopes. More recently, he also pissed off Christian clergy of the area and Rabbis, too, for conducting “sweeps” of Latino neighborhoods. That sort of thing is probably the inspiration for the Faux Joe Arpaio twitter account, which emitted a weird septic-scented blackwater stream of nauseatingly unfunny racist jokes “satirizing” Sheriff Joe for about three and a half weeks ending October 6th and signed off with this mournful coda:

Deputy Reprimand: All bulletin board notices advertising “1st Annual Sombrero Bonfire” have been taken down.

…which got not so much a laugh as a “WTF?” around the Techyum virtual offices.

At press time, the seven-ish Facebook pages devoted to Sheriff Joe appear to be three con and four pro — the latter category including one that wants him appointed Secretary of Homeland Security. Apparently Sheriff Joe has the Midas touch when it comes to people, ’cause even one apparently kinda nutty anti-authoritarian activist from Australia called him, on a Flickr photo of the man showing inmates with striped outfits and pink casts on (presumably broken) limbs, “a charming character with a solid handshake and a ready smile.” In case you were wondering, however, Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t friended him yet, and isn’t likely to any time soon. If he did, we’re pretty sure Sheriff Joe would say “not now.”

And he tweets! Follow Sheriff Joe Arpaio right into Twitter Heck, and put a little pink in your day.

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