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Biden brings 'malarkey' to Shanksville

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Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 8:51 p.m.

The potty-mouthed veep has struck again.

Visiting Shanksville on Tuesday to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Vice President Joe Biden once again resorted to using salty language in public. You might recall that he once described ObamaCare legislation as “a big (expletive) deal” on live television.

After speaking at a ceremony honoring crashed Flight 93's passengers who perished while battling the plane's hijackers, Biden attended a barbecue for the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department. There, he encountered Brad Shober, deputy chief, whom he'd met during a similar visit last year.

Recalling that he had invited Shober and other firefighters to the White House for a visit, Biden again extended an invitation — and went overboard in his insistence that it was sincere.

Pointing to an aide, Biden pledged to Shober, “He's going to call you. No (expletive).”

Suddenly remembering that reporters were present, the veep instantly cleaned up his comment.

“This is no malarkey,” he said.

Think he often says “malarkey” rather than the expletive when cameras aren't rolling? We doubt it.

FIRST THINGS FIRST FOR JACK WAGNER. Don't expect state Auditor General Jack Wagner to make a decision soon on a possible Pittsburgh mayoral bid.

Wagner has told folks that while he still is considering challenging Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in next year's Democrat primary (and de facto election), he wants to focus first on helping President Barack Obama and other Democrats win in November. Whatever Wagner decides, don't expect an announcement until at least around Thanksgiving.

Bill Peduto, city councilman and longtime Ravenstahl adversary, also is expected to run.

AUDIT ANXIETY? It's no secret that Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald and county Controller Chelsa Wagner aren't best buddies. The two even found a way to squabble over the questionably relevant county Bureau of Weights & Measures earlier this year.

So some Grant Street insiders are wondering if Fitz is worried about what she might find as her office conducts an audit of the Public Works department. Whatever the findings, no one expects the report to reflect kindly on the county exec when it's released.

USE YOUR HEAD, ED. If speaking before thinking were a crime, it would be a long time before Ed Rendell could be paroled.

The former Pennsylvania governor made an astonishing claim on Tuesday during an appearance on MSNBC. Talking about whether people are better off now than they were at the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency, Rendell claimed that even the unemployed are better off.

Uh ... really?

“If you're unemployed, (Obama) extended unemployment compensation that gave you a significant amount of additional coverage,” Rendell said. “If your family's on food stamps, the food stamp benefit went up. I would contend that even people who lost their jobs are better off.”

Not everyone agreed, including Noel Sheppard of the Media Research Center's Newsbusters blog.

“There's no way that someone who was employed before Obama was inaugurated and is involuntarily unemployed today is better off,” Sheppard wrote. “To suggest so is the height of stupidity, dishonesty or both.”

Hard to argue.

UNIFORM APPEARANCE. Somerset County Commissioner Joe Betta, known for arguing with colleagues and switching parties, raised a few eyebrows at Tuesday's Flight 93 memorial commemoration.

Betta, 74, a retired Marine Corps colonel, showed up for the ceremony in his full-dress military uniform.

Elected commissioner in 2011 as a Republican, Betta had a much-publicized turnabout recently, becoming an independent. Also a former Democrat, he has gained a reputation for feuding with members of both major parties.

NEXT IN LINE? Westmoreland County GOP insiders say that Commissioner Chuck Anderson already has a successor in mind if he does not seek a third term in 2014.

Anderson, 69, of Greensburg, who chairs the county commissioners, is reportedly grooming his longtime aide, Matthew Junker, to run for the office.

Junker covered courthouses in Fayette and Westmoreland counties for the Trib before joining the staff of Hempfield's former Sen. Bob Regola.

Some party bigwigs are not enamored of Anderson's plan.

RALLYING ROMNEY'S TROOPS. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has announced its Pennsylvania committee leadership.

State chairs are Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

Local county chairs: Allegheny, Joe Melaragno, Bethel Park Republican Committee chairman, Dave Majernik, Allegheny County Republican Committee vice chairman, and Bill Kirk, Republican committee member from McCandless; Fayette, Russ Rhodes, Republican committee chairman; Indiana, Bill Darr; Washington, Steve Toprani, former district attorney; Westmoreland, state Sen. Kim Ward of Hempfield.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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