JOE THE AFTERTHOUGHT…. On the homepage of the Politico right now, there’s a headline that reads, “Joe laughs at Obama speech,” above a picture of Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher. The headline leads to a story — and video — in which we learn the former campaign prop didn’t care for President Obama’s address to Congress this week.

Apparently, the fact that Wurzelbacher “did not have many nice things to say about Obama’s speech” is newsworthy.

It’s worth noting, though, that while Wurzelbacher remains important in some circles, his public “following” appears to be dwindling.

Joe the Plumber (no longer a plumber; first name actually Samuel) popped into [Washington, D.C.] yesterday evening to sell his new book and to remind people that he’s still a plain and simple guy. Mission accomplished, on at least one of his missions.

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border’s bookstore to hear Joe speak. Joe addressed them from behind a lectern and with a microphone, but that seemed unnecessarily formal.

At least a few of the 11 didn’t actually show up for Wurzelbacher, but were in the store anyway. One was reading “Dreams From My Father” upstairs and thought it was an amusing coincidence that “Joe the Plumber” was in Borders at the time.

Wurzelbacher was scheduled to speak and sign books for three hours. He left after 55 minutes when no one else showed up.

John McCain wasn’t there. Neither were any other members of Congress, Hill staffers, think-tank aides, conservative media personalities, etc. The whole event sounds kind of depressing. It was a reminder that as campaign props go, Wurzelbacher has become something of an afterthought.

So, why is his take on a presidential address worthy of a piece at the Politico? Your guess is as good as mine.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.