Barack Obama apparently discovered a leak under his sink in his Chicago house, and being the big-spirited guy he is, he looked up the number of Joe the Plumber and asked him to come and fix it.
So Joe drove all the way from his Ohio home to Obama's place, which is located in a very nice Chicago neighborhood, where it's clear that all the residents make more than $250,000 per year.
Joe arrived and took his tools into the house. He was led to the room that contained the leaky pipe under a sink. Joe assessed the problem and told Obama, who was standing near the door, that it was an easy repair that would take less than 10 minutes.
Obama asked Joe how much it was going to cost. Joe told him, "$9,500."
"$9,500?" Obama asked, stunned. "But you said it was an easy repair!"
"Yes, but what I do is charge a lot more to my clients who make more than $250,000 per year so I can fix the plumbing of everybody who makes less than that for free," explains Joe.. "It's always been my philosophy. As a matter of fact, I lobbied government to pass this philosophy as law, and it did pass earlier this year, so now all plumbers have to do business this way. It's known as 'Joe's Fair Plumbing Act of 2008.' Surprised you haven't heard of it, Mr. President-Elect."
In spite of this, Obama then told Joe that there was no way he would be paying that much for a small plumbing repair, so Joe left, the job undone.
Obama reportedly then spent the next hour flipping through the phone book looking for another plumber, but found that all other plumbing businesses listed had gone out of business. Not wanting to pay Joe's price, Obama did nothing.
The leak under Obama's sink went unrepaired for the next several days. A week later the leak was so bad that Obama had to put a bucket under the sink. The bucket filled up quickly and had to be emptied every hour, and there was a risk that the room would flood, so Obama, desparate, called Joe again and pleaded with him to come back.
Joe returned to Obama's house, looked at the leaky pipe, and said to Obama, "Let's see – this will cost you about $21,000."
Obama fired back, "A few days ago you told me it would cost $9,500!"
Joe explained the reason for the dramatic increase. "Well, because of the 'Joe's Fair Plumbing Act,' a lot of rich people are learning how to fix their own plumbing, so there are fewer of you paying for all the free plumbing I'm doing for the people who make less than $250,000. As a result, the rate I have to charge my wealthy paying customers rises every day.
"Not only that, but for some reason the demand for plumbing work from the group of people who get it for free has skyrocketed, and there's a long waiting list of those who need repairs. This has put a lot of my fellow plumbers out of business, and they're not being replaced – nobody is going into the plumbing business because they know they won't make any money. I'm hurting now too – all thanks to greedy rich people like you who won't pay their fair share."
Obama tried to straighten out Joe the Plumber: "Of course you're hurting, Joe! Don't you get it? If all the rich people learn how to fix their own plumbing and you refuse to charge the poorer people for your services, you'll be broke, and then what will you do?"
"Run for president, apparently," replied Joe with a grin.