(Corrects third paragraph to say Joe about to buy a business) 

Joe the Plumber was the surprise star of the third and final presidential debate, getting no less than 13 mentions in the opening minutes.

So who is this guy? His full name is Joe Wurzelbacher, and it turns out he had a close encounter with Barack Obama a few days ago. John McCain adopted Joe’s cause as a way to tar his opponent as a tax-and-spend liberal. rtx9llq.jpg

The apparent problem is that Joe is about to buy a company that makes a little over $250,000 a year, and under Obama’s proposal that would put him into a higher tax bracket. Obama told Joe that he wasn’t trying to punish his success, only to spread the wealth around.

“Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes,” McCain said.

“Joe, I want to tell you, I’ll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be able — and I’ll keep your taxes low and I’ll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees,” McCain said, staring straight into the camera.