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Mark Levin In-Studio on "Rescuing Sprite"

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We want to welcome Mark Levin to the microphones here. We had to put in a microphone because we never have guest in the studio, but this is a rare and valid exception. Mark Levin is here. How you doing, sir?

LEVIN: All right, brother.

RUSH: We got a new Dittocam over there so that you are the primary focus --

LEVIN: Okay.

RUSH: -- of the Dittocam today.

LEVIN: You've got a big canvas up here.

RUSH: What are you in town for? I know he didn't come down here to appear on this show to talk about your book.

LEVIN: No, not in the least. Of course, I did. I'm also here for the Restoration Weekend, which is the conservative weekend, but the fact of the matter is, you invited me to come on your show --

RUSH: Absolutely.

LEVIN: -- which I'm extremely thrilled about.

RUSH: Well, did you see the debate last night?

LEVIN: I did.

RUSH: You did? Anything that you saw that I haven't commented on?

LEVIN: I did. You have second-rate candidates, second-rate media, second-rate audience. It was pretty bad, I thought.

RUSH: Of all places to try to get an audience, Las Vegas. Who in Las Vegas going to go watch a bunch of dry-ball Democrats debate? All right, Rescuing Sprite. I told people about this book a little over a week ago, and you have been talking about it on your own program, of course. You've guested on Sean's television show with Colmes. Things that I tell people about this book are the indescribable devotion that you had to this dog, to your pet and to your family and how the passing of this dog and the way it happened caused a degree of pain in you that I've never seen you express about anything else. I've always wanted to ask you -- and I was with you when you were writing this -- what was your reaction, first off, when you heard about the Michael Vick story? Because that came within such close proximity to your dog's death and your writing of this book.

LEVIN: I was so disgusted, because this guy has the whole world at his feet, you know? He's got all the money he wants. He's a tremendous athlete. He's got tremendous fans -- and here he is not just gambling, but he is involved in funding, and transporting, and torturing, and murdering dogs. As you know, I'm a big dog lover -- you're a cat lover and a dog lover -- and I was absolutely stunned by this, and first he lied about it, as most criminals do, and also the way in which they did this. You know, the way he tortured them, the way they were thrown to the ground, the way they were hung and electrocuted. They threw water on them and everything. The thing is that dogs are supposed to -- and do -- bring out the best in human beings. They really do. Anybody who owns a dog or has owned a dog, or cat for that matter --

RUSH: Well, I wouldn't say that about cats.

LEVIN: But your cat's like a dog.

RUSH: On certain days.

LEVIN: Yeah.

RUSH: Does your cat bark?

LEVIN: No.

RUSH: All right. But anyway, so the thing is, dogs are really innocent, fun-loving, joyful creatures, and I think God's give them to us to help bring out the best in us, and this guy uses his position to brutalize them and torture them and murder them. I have nothing but contempt for him.

RUSH: By the way, I forgot -- stupid of me -- the title of your book is, Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish, and for those of you watching on the Dittocam, there it is. This book is selling so fast, folks, they're having trouble keeping it in the stores, but new supplies are even as we speak en route to bookstores around the country. This has been a frustrating thing because you and I talked about this.

LEVIN: Yeah.

RUSH: It's a dog book, and you're a "conservative writer," and that's what you're known as.

LEVIN: Yeah.

RUSH: A conservative thinker, policy guy, and the publisher says, "Well, okay, we'll maybe print 30,000 of these and see what happens," and I told you to tell them that they had no clue how big this was going to be. So how many have they printed now?

LEVIN: You know, I think it was the retail outlets because they wanted to get them to them, but we're on our eighth printing in nine days.

RUSH: Yeah.

LEVIN: Three-hundred and fifty thousand copies.

RUSH: Congratulations.

LEVIN: Well, you know, I gotta tell your audience something. We're very, very close friends, and I was gone through hell, and we instant message frequently, and the day I had to put down Sprite, our family did, I was instant messaging Rush, and people need to know what a compassionate human being you are -- and don't interrupt me and don't tell me "don't." What a compassionate human being you are. They need to know that, you know, here I am talking to you. We're two grown men, and I'm crushed. I'm traumatized by the whole thing, and the advice you gave me, and I was thinking about quitting this whole industry. I was thinking about quitting my legal practice, quitting radio, the whole thing, because I told you at the time, "What the hell am I doing? Get behind a microphone and talk, these legal cases. There are doctors, and nurses, and veterinarians out there, shelter folks are, you know, saving lives and helping people," and you said to me, "Look, we all have our roles," and you reminded me of that vet that you met at the National Review 50th anniversary, you remember that?

RUSH: The veteran, yeah.

LEVIN: He said to you, "We all have our roles, Rush," and he didn't have an arm and he didn't have an eye, and you also said to me, "You don't realize how many people you help, family, friends, strangers." But you were just so compassionate and helpful, and you also relayed to me the passing of your cat and what happened over that weekend when she had a stroke, as I recall.

RUSH: Yeah. That surprised me. I cried over the death of that little cat. She was five years old. You're right. They're the essence of innocence. This one had such a great little personality, and she was a fighter. Sprite was a fighter, too. That's one of the things you mean when you say they bring out the best in us. This little cat, we had to give her Valium one day just to keep her quiet. She fought that. I know that Sprite fought it. You know, the thing that I told you during all this is that you need to find the positives. You got a lot of joy, a lot of love, a lot of enjoyment, and look at the life you gave the dog. Let me set it up. You like to take rides in Virginia, you like to drive around, you get a new house, the transition of the new house, even though you love the house, was tough on your wife and kids, and then -- all of a sudden out of nowhere -- Sprite comes into your life. How did that happen?

LEVIN: Well, my wife Kendall, my kids, Loren and Chase, and you know them, they were very persistent on bringing another dog into the family. We had one already named Pepsi. Yeah, you can see the pattern, all the soda dogs. But anyway, I resisted it, I objected to it, because I didn't want to create a problem for our other dog. But my wife insisted, and they found him on the Internet, and he was a shelter dog. And we went over to Maryland, and we brought him home. And this dog when I saw him -- these pictures don't do him justice -- was the most magnificent dog I'd ever seen. And, you know, I do my radio show, and it's done -- broadcast live, and it ends at eight p.m. Eastern. So the family's already eaten, they're gone, you know, whatever they're doing. So I eat dinner with my dogs. I talk to them. They bark at me. We take long, long walks, I broadcast from my home, the dogs sit with me, if they're not barking at people out the back, every now and then you'll pick it up on the microphone. So they're my buddies. I am very, very close to them. But I also want people to know that I had my own health problems, and Sprite had a number of health problems, and I think that his health problems, because he fought through them and so forth and he was teaching me lessons about life and so forth, I had never come to grips with the heart attack I had had in 2000 and all the complications from that and so forth.

RUSH: What, in denial?

LEVIN: I just never really -- probably. You know, you compartmentalize these things so you can go on, and I'm watching this dog, one debilitating illness after another, and he's happy, give him a treat, just bringing out the best in us. I also want your audience to know that when I had these complications with my heart, after the bypass surgery, we were talking one day, and I said, "I'm still having chest pains," and you said, "Well, what the hell's wrong with you? Go get 'em taken care of." I said, "Well, I need to go to the Cleveland Clinic, and I don't know if I can afford it. I don't know if my insurance covers the Cleveland Clinic." And you said, "The hell with the insurance, I'll pay for it." Now, luckily, the insurance covered it, but the fact... I want people to know this because you take such a bum rap, and you take a bum rap because you're at the point of the conservative movement. You are Mr. Conservative today. They view us all this way. They view us all as hateful monsters, and they define compassion through government, through socialism, through appeasement, and the fact of the matter is: That's not what compassion is. Compassion is helping a friend, a family member, another person, even a stranger. It's not government, and it's not liberalism.

RUSH: Gotta take a quick time-out. Thank you very much. He came in here today saying don't make me cry. You turned the tables on me.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Final segment here with Mark Levin, who has written a book, Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish. I'm not talking about a whole lot of details in the book, because that's for you when you read it, and it's something to be experienced -- read, folks. So I don't... I would love to, but I think this is something you really need to read. But I do have a question or two, not just about the process that you went through writing, but what is the reaction you're getting from people? People surprised that a human being can get so attached to a dog to think about giving everything up because of the death of a dog? That is a level attachment to animals that I suspect a few people have that most don't.

LEVIN: Turns out a lot do. A lot do, and that's one of the points of the book. It's not why I wrote it, but it's one of the things people can get out of it, that people are crushed, I mean physically and emotionally crushed. I became extremely depressed for about six, eight weeks, I lost 20 pounds, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat because this dog was put to death on my say-so, and, you know, I didn't want to play God. As a matter of fact, the night before -- and I don't pray a lot -- I prayed to God and I begged him to take this dog. I didn't want to make that decision, and we made the decision. I just want people out there who love dogs, or cats, or horses, or whatever it is, to know that they're not alone, and that you said to me at the time, the greater the joy, the worse the grief. Because, you know, most of us are going to outlive our dogs and cats. Going to have to face this, and it was absolutely traumatic for me to make that decision. And we'd never done that before.

RUSH: That's one of the reasons why a lot of people don't invest and let go fully and enjoy anything in the fear that it's going to end and the pain that will result when it does. You gave this dog and the other one, gave them everything that you had, it appears. But I don't know that you realize how much you got back from them. You've described it, but I don't think even now you realize how much you got. This dog, Sprite, gave you a lot of joy, this dog had a life he would not have had were it not for you. Look what he's given you? He's given you a book. He's given you a therapeutic way to deal with his death. He's given you a way to immortalize you and your relationship with him. It's all good. It's all good, and you talked about compassion. You may have hated doing it, but it was the compassionate thing to do to put him down. I know you didn't want to.

LEVIN: No, he's -- but the way I look at it, through this book and him, I can tell people that, if thinking of getting a dog, think about going to these shelters. There are dogs there that just a day or two or three before had loving families. Many of them have lost these families. You can do it online. I've gone to a shelter once, and I can't go back. I love the people there. They're magnificent human beings. But to see all these dogs and cats in these cages that at one point had loving families, every one of them has a story. I went there with my son Chase once, I go, "Look, I gotta get outta here." You can do it online, whatever, but these are great jobs. I'm not saying... Look, I'm not a PETA guy. I like a good well-done hamburger with ketchup on it as a matter of fact.

RUSH: Well, you'll have one.

LEVIN: I'll have one. But what I'm saying is you can get 'em at a pet shop or whatever, but at least give these shelter dogs a thought, there are millions of them they just need a home.

RUSH: You had dogs growing up, right?

LEVIN: I did.

RUSH: Why did the death... Maybe they did. It seems to be the death of Sprite affected you far more than the death of any of the dogs that you've had previously. Why?

LEVIN: It's true, because I never had to decide when, how, where. And, as I've gotten older, I spent a lot more time. You know, when you're a kid, you're running around. I've got a thousand things to do. Well, when I'm done my radio show, I don't have a thousand things to do, and I spent a great deal of time with them, as well as my kids and my wife. I don't run around all over the place, I don't travel that much. And these guys bring me peace. They bring peace emotionally and in every other way. You can trust them a hundred percent, they're loyal a hundred percent, and, as people say -- and they're right -- the love is unequivocal. That's my little zone of comfort with them.

RUSH: What about the notion, this degree of attachment to an animal, means you're lacking attachment elsewhere? Somebody said that to you? Have you had anybody ask you --

LEVIN: No, but I --

RUSH: Because I think a lot of people when they read this are going to be stunned, Mark, at the depth of love and devotion you had for the dog, and some of them might wonder, do you have the same for your family?

LEVIN: Absolutely. I mean there's enough to go around, and believe me, I do. But, you know, dogs aren't hampsters; they're not fish. I won't say birds, because Snerdley is a bird guy and he's right over my shoulder, but I'm just kidding you, Snerdley. But, you know, dogs are dogs, and I've often said, "I cannot imagine losing a child." I just can't imagine the unbearable pain many of my -- well, not many, but a handful of my friends who lost their sons over in Iraq. They call the show. I cannot imagine getting through that in any kind of a sane way. So, as you said to me at the time, "You don't compare loss. You don't compare these things. It is what it is."

RUSH: Right. Well, I would congratulate you --

LEVIN: Well, thank you.

RUSH: -- for this, because a lot of people wouldn't have had the courage to open up like this. You've done it, and when you open up like this, it is the greatest thing in the world you can do, but it does expose you for people to launch slingshots or other kinds of attacks, but it's the fact being open and no doubt about who you are and the love you had for the dog, that was therapeutic for you. I want to thank you for the nice things you said about me.

LEVIN: Well --

RUSH: I didn't mean this to be about me. Things usually do end up being about me.

LEVIN: Of course they do.

RUSH: But I didn't think this would be. I've got 15 seconds. Are you going to have any book signings, book tours anywhere?

LEVIN: No. I have one more book signing. I just did two. One in New Jersey at Bookends.

RUSH: When?

LEVIN: Saturday, December 1.

RUSH: And the second one? Five seconds.

LEVIN: We already had it.

RUSH: Oh, one more.

LEVIN: This is it.

RUSH: Okay, thanks for coming.

LEVIN: God bless you, my friend.

RUSH: You bet. See ya.

END TRANSCRIPT

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