So Joe Biden Walks Into a Costco ...

The vice president took a little shopping trip to the new D.C. outpost of the national chain.

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Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Stop me if you've heard this one before. It may be tough to tell.

The vice president visited Costco in Washington, D.C., today for the store's grand opening and to look at some (non-fiscal) pies. Here's a truncated list, via the press pool, of what he purchased:

  • childrens' books
  • Duraflame fire logs (Anyone know how many fireplaces are at the Naval Observatory? And does Biden build his own fires?)
  • a 32" Panasonic TV
  • a large apple pie

And an even shorter list of what he didn't buy:

  • Tires. (His excuse: "Hey man, I don't need tires. I don't drive anymore.")

Biden apparently also lingered over some watches, including a $1,200 number, and called his daughter Ashley for "guidance," though it was unclear whether he actually bought one. The pool noted, somewhat archly, that the Bidens are former Costco members whose membership was reactivated Wednesday. (Convenient timing!)

The vice president was also asked about fiscal-cliff negotiations; queried on whether he was optimistic, he said, "I am." While that note seems at odds with continued gridlock that's being reported elsewhere, perhaps the savings on offer imbued Biden with contagious hope.

Joking aside, Biden's trip has more of a purpose than just a cheerful visit with constituents and a celebration of the economy (happily for the White House, economic growth estimates were revised up today). Costco founder Jim Sinegal was a major Obama-Biden donor who was given a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in September. A well-publicized vice-presidential visit to part of his empire is part of keeping the political patronage machine well-greased.

And just because, here's a picture of Biden scrutinizing the giant pies on offer:

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David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers political and global news. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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