Laurie Roberts: Joe Arpaio is in California, where a “striking” number of Republican officials have suddenly discovered they need to be elsewhere.

With a presidential pardon in his hip pocket, Joe Arpaio is back on the speaking circuit.

This week, he’s making the rounds in California, where he announced he’ll be resuming his search for the truth about Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Meanwhile, California’s Republican politicians have suddenly found they needed to be elsewhere while Arpaio is in town.

You know, an unexpected out-out-town trip here. A scheduling conflict there. A need to mow the lawn or get a haircut or be somewhere, anywhere but on stage with America’s most pitiful ex-sheriff – a guy who once had presidential candidates knock, knock, knocking at his door.

Arpaio is scheduled to speak at a Republican fundraiser in Fresno on Friday night, where he’ll regale them with fairy tales of a political “witch hunt” in which he stars as the poor, misunderstood victim.  It’s a sold-out event but apparently you won’t find many people with political ambitions anywhere near the place.

He’s speaking, but who’s listening?

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According to the San Jose Mercury News, “a striking number” of Republican officials will be no-shows, including Fresno’s mayor who never misses the event and not one but two county sheriffs who were tapped to introduce Arpaio but have bowed out.

“Historically, just about every local elected Republican would be at these events,” Marcelino Valdez, a former state GOP official who is attending the dinner, told the newspaper. “Sheriff Arpaio has scared off some people with political ambitions.”

I can’t imagine why. Maybe because he finally got kicked out of office by voters who got tired of paying the legal settlements for his antics, or maybe because a federal judge…