Question: How much of stuff like this is just Christie being Christie and how much of it is Christie knowing exactly, and I mean exactly, which buttons to push to get grassroots conservatives excited? Between insta-vetoing tax increases and tearing apart reporters, this guy seems to have a preternatural knack for gestures that will appeal to the righty base. Pretty soon he’ll be riding a horse and carrying a Winchester. He’s on the precipice of bona fide folk hero status.

It took about two minutes from the time Senate President Steve Sweeney certified the passage of the millionaires tax package for Gov. Chris Christie to veto the bills at his desk…

“What took you so long ?” asked Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.

Christie sat at a wooden desk emblazoned with the seal of the state of New Jersey and swiftly signed vetoes.

“We’ll be back, governor,” said Sweeney.

“Alright, we’ll see,” said Christie.

The tax was a small hike on people who make in excess of $1 million annually. Initially the Democrats wanted the income threshold to be $400,000, but when Christie promised to veto that, they raised the threshold and dared him to block a tax on the really rich. Christie’s response:

“Let me be real clear on it,” he said. “They can call it whatever they want to call it. They can package it however they want to package it. They can send it to me with a bow on it. They can send it to me in a nice box, gift-wrapped. They can throw it over the transom and leave it there and hope nobody smells it. No matter how they send it to me, it is going back. It is going back with a veto on it. We are not raising taxes in the state of New Jersey this year.”

The Journal, playing off his state roots, says he was “Born to Veto.” WaPo lists him as currently the seventh-most influential Republican in the country, which, given how little he’s engaged thus far on national issues, is a testament to how he’s taken off among the base. Even Democratic stalwart Ed Rendell says he admires him. My only knock on him: His new-media operation stinks. There should have been a staffer standing by with a Flip video camera to capture Christie accepting the tax-hike bill and instantly cashiering it. I guarantee you that it would have gone viral, much as his dressing down of that reporter did. Get with the program, big man.

Update: Ah, turns out video does exist after all. Thanks to Steve Gutowski for pointing me to it.