Hate traffic? Joe McCain does too

John McCain's brother dials 911 to complain about being stuck in traffic.

Published October 24, 2008 5:30PM (EDT)

Everybody has that one embarrassing family member: The aunt who gets drunk at Thanksgiving and starts describing the various ailments of all 37 of her parakeets. The lewd grandfather who makes jokes about Viagra and sponge baths at the breakfast table. The off-kilter cousin who fills your in box with e-mails that discuss UFO conspiracies and the coming apocalypse.

Luckily, for most of us, our oddball relatives don't have a national stage on which to humiliate us. Unfortunately for John McCain, the same can't be said of his brother, Joe.

Washington, D.C.'s ABC News affiliate, WJLA, obtained the audio recording of an angry 911 call Joe McCain made while stuck in traffic in Virginia earlier this week. Here's the transcript of the call (WJLA's video report on the incident is below):

Operator: 911 state your emergency.

McCain: It's not an emergency but do you know why on one side at the damn drawbridge of 95, traffic is stopped for 15 minutes and yet traffic's coming the other way?

Operator: Sir, are you calling 911 to complain about traffic? (pause)

McCain: (Expletive) you. (McCain hangs up)

The story gets better from there. Because Joe McCain had made a nonemergency call to 911, the operator called back to see who had placed the call and got McCain's voice mail. The message on it said,  "Hi, this is Joe McCain. I can't take this message now because I'm involved in a very important family political project. I hope on November 4th we have elected John."

Apparently not one to shy away from a fight, after listening to the operator's message warning him that it's a criminal offense to call 911 for nonemergencies, McCain called back. Here's the conversaton that ensued:

McCain: Somebody gave me this riot act about the violation of police.

Operator: Did you just call 911 in reference to this?

McCain: Yeah.

Operator: 911 is to be used for emergencies only, not just because you're sitting in traffic.

This isn't the first time this year that Joe McCain has made headlines. Earlier in October, he caused a minor stir when he joked that Democratic-leaning areas of Northern Virginia were "communist country."

Ironically, McCain told the Boston Globe in March that he wanted to avoid becoming the latest in a line of disruptive presidential siblings like Billy Carter and Roger Clinton. Worried that he might accidentally say something to harm his brother's shot at the presidency, he vowed to make few public appearances and follow the mantra of "Do no harm." 

Update: Originally, in the transcript of the second phone call, we had mislabeled the operator as "McCain." That has been corrected.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.