What was United States Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden doing while his boss officially claimed victory over a vanquished opponent during the ancient mystical ceremony of "private lunch"? Big Joe Biden was at Costco looking for pies, that's what he was doing.

Not just pies, obviously. Biden also bought books, some Duraflame logs, and a flat-screen TV. But the pies were the object: "I'm looking for pies," he told Costco employee Ivey Stewart, who guided and protected him as he made his way through the Costco labyrinth, like Strider the ranger to Biden's pie-obsessed hobbit.

That's Stewart on the left. Her only price: a call made on her phone, by Biden to an unknown person. ("Couldn't hear what he said, but she broke into tears and got a vice presidential hand on the shoulder and a hug," the pool report explains.)

But really everyone got some Biden love, especially the Costco ladies handing out samples. (According to the pool, "Biden also availed himself of several Costco food samples, and looked like he enjoyed them.")

He had to sample, because he needed to get a pie.

And books.

Hence the full shopping cart:

Biden is, of course, a Costco member. "In all honesty, I didn't have my own card. Jill wouldn't let me have one," he told the crowd while posing with Costco CEO Craig Jelinek co-founder Jim Sinegal. "I went to get my wife's card, and she said, 'No, No, get your own card.'"

A White House official, speaking anonymously, told pool reporter Lesley Clark that "[t]he Bidens have been Costco members in the past. The Vice President and Dr. Biden's Costco memberships were re-activated yesterday."

Bonus: From NBC4's Shani Hilton, a GIF of a Costco worker wiping off Biden's chin:

[all images via AP]