'Joe the Plumber' too booked for LV

Efforts to bring "Joe the Plumber" to the Global Gaming Expo have gone down the drain.

Joe the Plumber had commitments to be Joe the Opportunist.

Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher was listed among the lineup of celebrities heading for the world's largest gaming trade show, which is being held this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

His newly hired agent, Nashville, Tenn., public relations guru Jim Della Croce, is on a how-to-brand-your-casino panel at the trade show, and thought Wurzelbacher's presence would translate into good exposure.

But he has guest appearances in Los Angeles this week and a commitment to work on his new book in Dallas.

"He's a great example of someone who's got their 15 minutes of fame and is trying to capitalize on it," said Clinton Billups, an entertainment executive with G2E.

Della Croce put Joe the Plumber on the phone with me Sunday for an update on his life since becoming a media sensation after his name was invoked by both candidates in the presidential election.

Life won't be normal anytime soon, he said. He made national headlines in late September when his question about tax policy resulted in a response by Barack Obama that he wants to "spread the wealth" around by raising taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year.

Joe the Plumber might find himself in that tax bracket.

He said he had 10 different letters from 10 different writers who wanted to do his book.

"It wasn't easy to turn down $1 million," he said. He settled on Austin, Texas, writer and publisher Tom Tabback to help him write "Joe the Plumber -- Fighting for the American Dream." It is to be released Dec. 1.

Offers of all kinds came at him: radio show host ("I'm looking into it"), endorsements for plumbing products, clothing lines (low-rider pants, perhaps? Or belts, we hope), guest appearances on TV and radio and as a political headliner.

A lady recently pitched him, he said, on toilet seat stickers that read: "Flush Out Washington" and "Hire Me to Spread the Wealth."

Billups, who stressed he is apolitical in his G2E position, added another possibility: Joe the Plumber would be a draw for casinos in states "that went red in the election."


Vice President-elect Joe Biden, shaking hands with churchgoers at the 8 a.m. Mass at the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer. He had about a dozen Secret Service agents with him. ... Prince, showing up at Tao, in The Venetian, about 2:30 a.m. Sunday and settling into a loft table with an exotic beauty. ... Brock Lesnar, celebrating his UFC heavyweight title win Saturday over Randy Couture, with his pregnant wife and about 60 friends in a private dining room at Shibuya, the Japanese restaurant at the MGM Grand. The new champ took time to accommodate several fans who posed with him and his championship belt. ... Couture, being greeted with chants of "Randy, Randy" as he arrived Saturday with wife Kim at Studio 54, in MGM Grand, after the fight. Also at the after-party: hip-hop mogul Suge Knight and UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer. ... At the UFC event Saturday night: 50 Cent, boxer Ricky Hatton, and actors Mandy Moore, Laura Prepon and Rob Schneider. ... Also at Tao: Moore, celebrating with friend Kenny Florian, who won his UFC 91 lightweight match with Joe "Daddy" Stevenson. ... Moore also hosted at Pure, in Caesars Palace, on Saturday. ... The cast of vampire flick "Twilight," one of the most anticipated fall releases, greeted wildly by a huge crowd of fans at Saturday's release party at Privé, in Planet Hollywood Resort. Earlier the cast members -- Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Kellan Lutz and Peter Facinelli -- dined at Strip House. ... "Deal or No Deal" host Howie Mandel, meeting Danny Gans backstage after his show Saturday at The Mirage and announcing, "You are the real deal."


"American Express is in financial trouble and reportedly wants a $5.5 billion loan from the government. Unfortunately for American Express, the government only takes Visa and Diners Club." -- Conan O'Brien

Norm Clarke can be reached at 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.