SOUTH PORTLAND – The announcement in July that BP had capped the oil leak in the Gulf was accompanied by a report that the device used was based on a design provided by an anonymous plumber.

Apocryphal or not, the idea of a plumber saving America where all others had failed resonates deeply, and raises the question of whether it’s time for plumbers to run the country.

I’m talking entirely in charge — being president, veep, all of Congress, 50 governors, a gazillion state legislators — plumbers all. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi turning over their gavels to a couple of guys with a blowtorch and a wrench? The image beckons.

If every political office in the country were filled by a plumber, we’d have the highest percentage in our history of public officials with small-business experience, or to put it another way, people who know how to balance their checkbooks.

Would such a group have passed an $800 billion stimulus package or a 2,500-page health care reform bill?

Would such a group balance the budget by raising taxes or by cutting spending?

Would such a group have gotten the country in this mess in the first place?

Who better to provide practical solutions to practical problems than plumbers?

There’s not much ideology in putting in a sink. And when you spend a good part of your life on your back looking up at the underside of a toilet, you’re not much inclined to look down your nose at people. Plumbers don’t condescend.

All of which can’t be said about many among the liberal elite groups of the current ruling class, which makes a comparison between academics, journalists, Hollywood celebrities, trial lawyers, teachers unions and community organizers on one hand, and plumbers on the other, instructive.

I’d bet that plumbers reflect the political makeup of the electorate far more closely than any of the liberal elite groups.

And their values are different. Put the question, “Is the United States the problem in the world or the solution in the world?” to the liberal elite and to plumbers and see who sides with America.

Who has the higher percentage of military service? Same question for their children.

More than 60 percent of Americans support the Arizona immigration law, recently struck down by a federal judge. If you gave 10,000 plumbers $100 million, a trainload of barbed wire and a truckload of .30-06s, any doubt they could secure the southern border?

I can’t recall a plumber ever embarrassing America, which can’t be said about Hollywood celebrities, recently highlighted by Lindsay Lohan’s trip to the slammer and Oliver Stone’s apologies for Hitler and Stalin.

This summer saw the website WikiLeaks publish 91,000 secret leaked documents on the war in Afghanistan. Plumbers are horrified by leaks. The New York Times publishes them.

Would plumbers have worked for the shutdown of Washington, D.C.’s highly successful charter schools? Teachers unions did. With Ward Churchill on ice, it’s been a while since a nutty professor was in the news for saying something dumb. But classes start soon.

The 111th Congress has 222 lawyers, three carpenters and zero plumbers. Congress’ approval rating is 11 percent.

People identify with plumbers (and all tradespeople) because just like small-town mayors they have “actual responsibilities.”

They face being fired every day on every job. Ever try to fire an incompetent teacher or professor? Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose the ground zero mosque, which a community organizer first said he supported, then backtracked, then sidestepped.

Would I bet my camp that plumbers oppose this with no weasel words or spin? You betcha.

I admit to hyperbole, but only in part. When you really need a trial lawyer, he’s the most important person in your life. Almost everyone has been greatly influenced by a teacher or professor. I can’t start my day without The Press Herald. And celebrities’ performances sometimes touch the soul.

But more than a few among the liberal elite have lost touch with mainstream values and with notions of American exceptionalism.

This happened in Britain in the 1930s when students at the Oxford Union resolved to “in no circumstances fight for King or Country” and when the BBC and The Times of London propped up appeasers, with catastrophic results. Ordinary Brits supported Winston Churchill.

We pray that such catastrophe is not our fate. But if I am ever charged with deciding who will run the country, I’ll take plumbers every time.

Absolutely. Positively. Every time.