Rush LimbaughRush Limbaugh (January 12, 1951 - )
"I don't consider myself an offensive guy. I'm just a harmless, lovable little fuzzball."
Rush "Rusty" Hudson Limbaugh III has enjoyed remarkable success as the Republican version of Howard Stern for nearly twenty years. His vaudevillian radio comedy stylings, combined with an ever present ability to enrage liberal Democrats with simple turns of phrase are worthy of anyone's attention during long, slow drives through evening traffic.
His love for tickling and toying with listeners is matched only by his confidence. Limbaugh weaves incendiary emotional tapestries of fact, fiction and half-truths delivered with precision timing. He lambasted Bill Clinton with clockwork regularity, and continues to tout Ronald Reagan as the greatest President of all time. Limbaugh's observations are trimmed of unnecessary explanation, and his skill at wordsmithery (i.e. coining the phrase feminazi) has often been compared to that of rapper Eminem.
Facts dispensed by Limbaugh are almost never questioned during his program. A hostile caller rarely gets through screeners, and his TV show was regularly delivered before a live, cheering studio audience. Limbaugh doesn't debate - he prefers to forge a media empire largely based on unchallenged monologues or scripted chains of thought.
Limbaugh was a chubby debating student in high school, and he didn't date much. Socializing in groups wasn't something he was comfortable with outside the safety of a studio. Over his course of his career, he'd get hired and fired from numerous radio stations (KGMO, KQV, WXYZ, KUDL, KFIX, KMBZ), for his assertive, outspoken demeanor. Many of his peers thought he was snobbish. On-air discussions grew heated, and often he simply disconnected callers mid-sentence. He refused to stick to a format. He made personal attacks, heavy on political commentary. Personality clashes with management and station owners were commonplace - and like Howard Stern, Limbaugh's satire wasn't immediately appreciated.
In 1984, Limbaugh replaced Morton Downey Jr. at KFBK in Sacramento, where he had almost free reign of the airwaves from 9:00am until noon. He refused guests on his show, firmly believing he should forge ahead only on his own merits and the interaction between himself and callers. KFBK defended him to critics - and Rush demonstrated his appreciation by accepting another contract from WABC, and moving to New York. Within a month, his program was carried nationally by 55 radio stations.
His first on-screen work came as a guest host on The Pat Sajak Show, in early 1990. Members of the audience grew extremely angry with Rush's snide commentary - to the point where during a commercial break, the entire studio was cleared. He performed the final segment alone and shaken.
For a long while, Rush Limbaugh and activist liberal Democrat Larry King engaged in a battle. Both have mounted massive offensives against one another. Although King regarded Limbaugh as a "right-wing kook," Rush was invited on Larry King Live for an interview. When Rush showed up in his trademarked suit and tie - he was miffed to learn that Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, not King, would be conducting the interview.
Rush later released this statement: "I want to salute the producers of Survivor II and CBS. I want to salute them for their courage, boldness and conviction. They have decided to go ahead and air their finale tonight, despite the fact that I will be appearing live for the full hour on Larry King Live on CNN with guest host Pat Sajak."
His stance on the environment is legendary. In his best seller, The Way Things Ought To Be, he informs readers that Mount Pintaubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than a thousand times the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals in one eruption than all the chlorofluorocarbons manufactured by all the wicked, diabolical and insensitive industrial corporations in human history. His argument: mankind can't possibly equal the output of even a single Pinatubo eruption - much less 4 billion year's worth of them, so how can we destroy the ozone? Balderdash and poppycock, he insists. The only people who worry about the environment are wackos, dunderheaded alarmists and prophets of doom.
Less than a month after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, Rush delivered startling news to his radio audience of millions:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm now totally deaf in my left ear. I cannot hear a thing in my left ear, with hearing aids, the most powerful made, mean nothing. I have the ability to recognize sound but not identify it in my right ear. I cannot communicate with people. I can occasionally talk to people in person one on one if their voice frequency happens to fit the range that I can still hear, but I cannot hear radio, I cannot hear television, I cannot hear music. I am, for all practical purposes, deaf, and it's happened in three months. I have been to what I learned were the finest doctors and clinics throughout the country, focusing on one, and every effort has been made to stabilize the loss, with the hope of restoring it. No success has been reported, in either stabilizing it or losing it - or restoring it."
"To describe for you the way I hear things now, I understand what I'm saying, but I think it's more because I know what I'm going to say, rather than I'm actually hearing it. I feel it, I feel the vocal vibrations in my skull, but in terms of actually hearing what I say, that -- I don't really -- I don't know if I am or not. Other people, depending on their voice range, if they're loud and speak slowly enough and are close enough to me, then I can hear them, but this is relatively new. The past ten days it's been this case. Ten days ago, two weeks ago I was able to conduct a normal conversation, just a couple of times, "Say that again, please?" But now it's deteriorated to the point that, for all clinical, practical purposes, if I take the right-side hearing aid out, I do not hear a single thing -- zip, zero, nada. I don't hear smoke alarms."
Since that time, Rush Limbaugh has re-learned how to hear again. He married Marta Fitzgerald, a woman he met on the Internet.
The Quotable Limbaugh...
On homosexuality: "When a gay person turns his back on you, it's anything but an insult - it's an invitation. The difference between Los Angeles and yogurt is that yogurt comes with less fruit."
On the homeless: "One of the things I want to do before I die is conduct the Homeless Olympics. The 10-meter Shopping Cart Relay, the Dumpster Dig, and the Hop, Skip and Trip."
On NAFTA: "If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people--I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs, let the kinds of jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do--let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."
On Native Americans: "There are more American Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived or at any other time in history. Does this sound like a record of Genocide?"
On feminism: "Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream. Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along."
On feminazis: "Militant feminists are pro-choice because it's their ultimate avenue of power over men... It is their attempt to impose their will on the rest of society, particularly on men."
On corporate layoffs: "Why is it that whenever a corporation fires workers, it's never speculated that the workers might have deserved it?"
On Kurt Cobain: "Kurt Cobain was, ladies and gentleman, was a worthless shred of human debris."
Speculating as to how a Mexican won the New York marathon: "An immigration agent chased him for the last 10 miles."