By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 26, 2012 at 2:05 PM

I've known Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke since before he ran for office and I've always found him a little bit of an enigma.

He runs as a Democrat but is clearly a Republican. And his combative style, with supervisors, the county executive, his officers, the police chief and just about anyone else who crosses him is legend.

I have now finally figured him out.

Sheriff Clarke is really The Marlboro Man.

You know the cigarette icon who was stoic, tough, a man's man, ready to ride his steed into any battle that needed to be fought? That's Clarke.

I was watching a local television news channel this week (which is a rare occurrence in itself because local news channel is an oxymoron) and they were covering an event where Clarke was present.

My jaw dropped when I saw him. Instead of his crisp sheriff's uniform he was wearing a white cowboy hat and cowboy boots. He had on a tight red T-shirt and blue jeans with a silver belt buckle about the size of your average dinner plate. He had a black gun on his hip and a grim look on his face.

If I didn't know better, I'd think that here was a guy wandering the streets looking for the OK corral. I think cowboy hats and big belt buckles ought to be outlawed for sheriff's as well as accountants, retail salesmen, bus drivers and school teachers.

But our very own Marlboro man isn't about to change.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.