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Rush's Acceptance Speech for the Media Research Center's William F. Buckley "Greatest Conservative in the World" Award

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Thank you all very much. I know it's late. Brent told me to cut my speech to 45 minutes rather than the (laughing) hour and a half I was going to go. There have been two references tonight to my humility, and I'm sorry the cover is blown. Cal Thomas had to leave. He had to catch a plane, but he came by and told me he wasn't going to be able to hear my humble remarks. Brent has referred to it. I'm a little stunned by it, because it's been referenced also tonight I think by Cal that I do satire, and the humility that I think I bring to what I do is born of, really, the roots of this award. When Brent called me and said, "We've got this new award, the William F. Buckley Greatest Conservative in the World Award, and you're going to win the first one," I think that's what he said when he first posed it (Laughter.), I said, "Well, that fits." (Laughter.) Ahem. A little humility there. I said, "That is amazing." We conservatives don't get many awards, but we actually have an audience. These PBS people and NPR people give themselves all these awards, but nobody's ever seen the shows that get awarded. (Laughter.) We actually have an audience, and so we are a threat, and we don't get awards. (Applause.) It's an honor to get an award! It really is. But to get the first award named after William F. Buckley! Neal Boortz referred to this earlier, and he was attempting to be self-deprecating in his humor. In his case he was telling the truth; he's never had an original thought. (Laughter.) The truth of the matter is -- and I say this every chance I get. I grew up. I was born in 1951, grew up, and came of age in the '60 campaign. That's when I was old enough, my brother and I were, to remember my parents talking about the '60 election -- and I have a lot of ancillary interests as a kid that didn't include politics, but I was just surrounded by it all the time. Little did I know what I was absorbing would form the foundation for my future, but that's a debt of gratitude that I and my brother both owe to our families, extended family. But, you know, it came along and started this program, the current iteration of this program is from 1988. It actually started 1984 in Sacramento but went national in 1988, and it just exploded. Nobody knew what was going to happen. There had been all these conspiracy theories that Roger Ailes picked me out to go out and screw the left by coming up with dominance on talk radio. I didn't meet Roger Ailes until 1992, but there have been all of these conspiracy theories, and it was just a roll of the dice. It was a crapshoot. It was entrepreneurism at its best. It was two hours of satellite time from noon to two that was going unfilled, and the guy thought he could make some money with me doing it. There was never a political discussion about what the content would be. There were never any discussions about this. It just happened, and it just exploded, and I started receiving all of these -- not accolades, but it grew fast, and the reason why was not because there was some new brilliance on the scene, and it wasn't because, as the left said, that there were a bunch of mind-numbed robots out there being created by me and others like me, a pied piper. It is because the views that I shared and I had the honesty and the ability to express, resonated with a whole bunch of people who never heard those views expressed anywhere in the -- what I call now -- Drive-By Media. Those people had been laughed at and impugned and made fun of, and all of a sudden here on the national stage was somebody saying the things they already agreed with, therefore their opinions were validated, and they connected to it, and they joined it. This surprised me. I always hoped, when I moved to New York, to be number one in radio; but I had no idea that it was going to happen as it did and grow as fast as it did, and I owe my success to a lot of people that are a lot smarter than I am. My foundation for conservative -- Anybody can be a conservative, but if you can't explain why, if you're just relying on your instincts, anybody can do that, and nobody is going to care to listen to it. If you can explain it, inspire others to explain it, inspire others to understand it, which helps them to go explain it, then you create a little army that manifests and grows among families, neighborhoods, and communities.

That's what's happened since, in my case, 1988. But it also started long before I came along, and that's the importance of this award being named after Mr. Buckley. There are many godfathers of this movement. You could say Goldwater and Reagan, but if Bill Buckley hadn't done what he did, none of the rest of this would have happened. (Applause.) Folks, there are so many really intelligent conservative thinkers, intellects. They've been laboring in the basements. They had been, and some of them still are. By the way, I'm not staying overnight tonight because I'm afraid of this town. (Laughter.) I come to Washington, and I get in and get it and get out as soon as I can, because I'll tell you what, if I stay here for 24 hours, I might join the chorus of others in the conservative movement who I think are mistakenly telling the president to fire Gonzales. (Applause.) That's can happen to you living in this town. You end up wanting to please liberals and make them think that you're not as extreme as the right-wingers that don't live in Washington. I have not lost my place. I know where I was. All these people laboring in the basement. My life is the product of their work. They've inspired my own thinking. They've given me confidence to believe what I believe. But they provided an education above and beyond what I got in the classroom, which wasn't much. I flunked speech in college twice. I went. I didn't outline the speeches. I already had a technique for doing it. They should have called the course "Outline 101." I finally quit college when they told me... They'd told me in high school, "When you get to college, you're on your own! They're not going to baby you. Yeah." Okay, then they tell me my required PE course: ballroom dance taught by a female drill sergeant from the WACs. (Laughter.) I had better things to do than this. So I went out, and it was when I left school that I realized, "Uh-oh. I'm going to have to be able to demonstrate what I know. I'm not going to have a degree that says I know anything, and I'm not going to have a degree that gets my foot in the door, and that started me on my quest to learn and absorb as much as I could about the things that were passionate to me and the things that I felt instinctively were right, and without the Bill Buckleys and all the other names -- we could list these names that I have been able to benefit from their work -- none of the rest of this all would have happened. I'm forever grateful that it's just come to me, it's benefited me in the process of timing, all of their work and their lives happened to coincide with mine. You know, the Media Research Center -- I want to go through some things here pretty quickly, because it is late. Media Research Center was at the beginning, and set a standard and had the guts to go after the left. Now Brent and his organization are being copied. For once it's the left that's bringing up the rear, except they do it far differently than the way Brent's organization does. They lie. They take things out of context. One of the problems with this is that the mainstream media -- which, again, I call the Drive-By Media -- does not listen to my show or anybody else's show. They go to these liberal watchdog, so-called, websites where with we say is taken out of context and broadcast all over the place, and that becomes what I said. It's like my 600 radio stations don't exist unless you've got some sort of secret password to listen to it. I'll give you a quick little example. The John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards press conference. When it was over, I have all my monitors on in my studio, and there's Howard Fineman (I guess he's on PMSNBC) and he was just like excited as he could be, because there had been a leak an hour before the press conference, published on The Politico -- John Harris and Mike Allen, who left the Washington Post to go over there and form The Politico -- ran a leak saying that Edwards is going to suspend the campaign. Edwards didn't suspend the campaign. He said the campaign's going to go on, and Fineman was just ecstatic, and they analyzed this thing. Here's a woman that's telling the country she's got five years to live, and they're analyzing this politically. "It's a ten strike," Fineman said. "But the best thing about this was, so much unexpected here. It was exciting. We found out that the campaign is going to go on! This is unreal. We don't get this kind of excitement." I'm standing here, watching this, I'm just appalled that this is being analyzed by the compassionate and tolerant ones among us in a purely political sense. So that afternoon I made mention that this was the second "scoop" that the Politico had blown that week. The first one was that Republicans were seeking a replacement for Gonzales at the request of the White House. That would have been Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, Thursday night when I got home, there's e-mail from my office that John Harris has called, all in a tizzy, over what I had said about the Politico that day -- and here's what he had been told I said. He did not hear my show. Here's what he had been told I said. He told me that I had said, "John Harris and Mike Allen are no different than the Indianapolis Colts, abandoning Baltimore in the middle of the night and going to Indianapolis just as they abandoned the Washington Post and left them in lurch." His e-mail said that he'd been told that I said that the Washington Post ought to slap those two guys around for what they've done in leaving and that I said, further, they should be censured, forever and for life. I said none of it. I didn't even talk about the Indianapolis Colts in relationship to Politico or the Edwards press conference. So I sent him this. His e-mail was outraged and he was just convinced that he had it right. I wrote him back, and I said, "I didn't say any of this." I said, "You know, my radio show is on at 12 noon. The transcript of the show is up at six p.m. You have two opportunities to find out what I said from the horse's mouth," but it doesn't happen with those people. They do not, folks, expose themselves to us and those of us in our media because they don't want to. They don't want their precious worldview challenged. The Media Research Center, what you saw tonight on video is exactly what they said in the context they said it. They don't distort, they don't make it up, and they don't lie about it. (Applause.) The last time I was in Washington, it was for my radios affiliate here, WMAL, and one of the things they did during the day before my appearance that night was go out to Walter Reed and check out the rats. (Sigh.) We didn't see any rats. We went out there, had an entourage of people that went out, and we were going to go to the ambulatory or the amputee rehab place, and there are about six of us, and they are walking us through the halls, and all of a sudden we got to a corner and they asked us to stop. "They're not quite ready for you in there, they told us. Five minutes and you can go in." So we waited about five, maybe ten minutes, and finally the all-clear was given, and we walked in, and there were about 24 soldiers and sailors, people in there that were... They're a different breed, folks. Some without legs, amputated up to here, some without arms, some without one of each -- all smiling. Families are with them, in some cases. Young, all the way up to the mid-twenties, maybe early thirties in a couple cases, just smiling and happy as they can be, and I'm embarrassed to be there. I haven't done anything like these people did, and there they are happy and smiling. I asked a couple of them, "Do you have everything you need?" "Oh, yes, sir. We're in great shape here. We have everything that we need." One 19-year-old was so excited, his fiancée, both legs were gone. His fiancée was coming in the next weekend to plan their wedding. The last guy I talked to, he and his wife, and he's doing exercises on the edge of the table, said, "Gosh, I wish you'd have been in here five minutes earlier." I said, "Why?" "Well, John Kerry was just in here." I said, "Well, that's why they held us up outside," and I said, "Did he say anything to you?" "Oh, no. He's here sometimes. He never says a word. He just comes in here for his photo-ops," and the man said, "I wish he had-a said something to me, because I would have said, 'Senator Kerry, I'm too stupid. I went to Iraq. I don't know what you're trying to tell me," and I went, "Man, man!" (Applause.) They are a different breed of people. I visited the Fisher House, too, out on the grounds, which is where families stay. It was one of the most humbling and meaningful trips to meet people. It was the same thing with the troop visit that Mary described, that we took to Afghanistan in February two years ago. That was amazing and an opportunity, too. But, look, I know it's late and you gotta get out of here, and I'm sure Brent's got a couple surprises before you leave. I want to thank the Media Research Center. They have been great to me. They have been an invaluable resource, and they have been supportive. You know, one of the things that we learn when you get into this arena, is you don't expect the other side to like you. Well, some of us don't. Some of us harbor the silly view that they will and should. Frankly, I think it is a badge of honor that they're threatened by me and don't like me, and it inspires me each and every day. (Applause.) But what makes that easy -- it's hard to do that alone. What makes it easy is friends like you, and people in my audience. I wouldn't be where I am without people like Brent Bozell and Mr. Buckley. I wish I had time to tell you about the first time we went to his house for a National Review editors meeting. I drove around the block a couple times, not sure I should actually go in. I said, "Why am I invited here?" They had invited me to come by, and I had so many conflicts. "Here's one of my idols, but, gee, am I going to blow the whole opportunity to get to know him by being an idiot when I go in there?" I walked in, and everybody was there. All the editors were just as outgoing and just as friendly and disarming as they could be. Mr. Buckley asked me, "What would you like to drink?" and I said, a Diet Coke. Five minutes later he handed it to me, and it had no ice in it. I drank it, and honest to God it tasted like mineral water, like a laxative, but it looked like Diet Coke. But I didn't say anything! I took a couple sips. After awhile, Pat, Mrs. Buckley, with the grand entrance, sweeping down the stairs. Everybody stood up and greeted her. I introduced myself. She was disarming, totally welcomed me, saw what I was drinking and said, "What do you have?" because I'd managed to drink half. I said, "It's a Diet Coke." So she took it back over to Bill. "Bill, fill this up. Mr. Limbaugh wants a Diet Coke," and she's watching him make it, and I hear her shout, 'Bill! That is not Diet Coke!' I still don't know what it was. (Laughter.) I'm telling you, it tasted like mineral oil, and then the dinner conversation, the first thing Mr. Buckley said was, he was talking to one of his editors, one of his contributors that day, and the contributor's point was that James Joyce said that if Ulysses hadn't been written, he wouldn't be able to write it today, which you can imagine the conversation that spawned. But they couldn't have been nicer, and they couldn't have been... It taught me a lesson. There's always going to be somebody come along after somebody else, and it would have been easy for the National Review people to say, "Eh, this whippersnapper on the radio. Who is he?" But they weren't jealous, and they weren't offended, and they weren't threatened, because they were true believers in their mission, they were true believers in the movement -- and here I was. They wanted to get to know me, I'm sure to find out if I was legitimate, but also to encourage me if they felt it worthwhile, and they all did, and that's all I've ever received my whole career from everybody in my audience who stuck with me through a lot of trials and tribulations -- advertisers, radio stations. All of the friends that I have made have all stood behind me and have given me the confidence to move on and to continue to do what I do, and I love it. There is nothing else I would rather do. So it's an opportunity once again to thank you, because, as Cal referenced on Christmas Day what I say. What I say to people during my Christmas show is -- I hear this all the time. You talking about humbling. People tell me what a difference my show has made in their lives, and that embarrasses me. I've tried to work on how to receive compliments. I usually don't even want people celebrating my birthday because it embarrasses me. What's the big deal of living another year unless you've done it in New York, then it's an achievement. (Laughter.) It embarrasses me, and people will call and tell me this, and I always say, "Whatever my program has meant to you, you will never understand what you," and I include all of you in this, "have meant to me." I can't imagine my expectations of my life versus the reality of it, and whatever my radio program has meant to people, it doesn't compare to what all of you and all the friends I've made during these last 20 years has meant to my family and my career, and I probably will never, ever find an adequate way to say thank you to everybody, so I try to do it as often as I get the chance and every chance I get. So, again, thanks to all of you who have helped me sustain what I need to do to be who I am. (Applause.) And, Brent, thank you so much. I appreciate it."

END TRANSCRIPT

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