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Student Project: Who Is Rush Limbaugh?


RUSH:  This is William in Winter Park, Florida, but he's from St. Louis.  William, welcome to the program.  How are you?

CALLER:  Rush, it's an honor.  Thank you very much for having me on.

RUSH:  Yeah, you bet.

CALLER:  So my senior seminar class is -- or I'm a senior at a liberal arts school in Winter Park, Florida.  And one of my classes is senior seminar, and our senior thesis or final paper is a political biography on the political figure of your choice, and I chose you.  And the title of my essay is, "Who is Rush Limbaugh?"

RUSH:  Oh, wow.

CALLER:  I figure there's no better way to answer that question than I ask the man himself.

RUSH:  Well, now, wait a minute here.  In the first place, if I start telling you who I am, then I am doing the work for your paper.  Now, why did you choose me for this political assignment? I'm a radio guy, yet you lump me here as a political figure.  Why did you choose me?  There's no wrong answer.  I'm just curious.

CALLER:  You're on our list, and I was a political science major, but I've never really been that interested in politics.  I knew my parents listened to you in the past but they never really put their political views on me in any way.

RUSH:  But have you listened to the program much, or not?

CALLER:  I'm a Rush 24/7 member now. I have been following you about 2-1/2 months, and it was the best decision I ever made.

RUSH:  Well, then you're halfway home.  You're halfway home.

CALLER:  Right.

RUSH:  If you already are of that opinion, you're halfway home.  "Who is Rush Limbaugh?"  In what way do you want to take this?

CALLER:  Forgive me if I pronounce the name wrong, but I got Zev Chafets' book, Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One. I read that cover to cover.

RUSH:  Okay.

CALLER:  So I can answer in a bunch of different ways, but I figured it would be a good way to conclude my essay with a transcript from you.

RUSH:  Oh, a transcript of me talking to you, of me explaining myself?


RUSH:  If somebody were to ask me, what would I say?

CALLER:  'Cause my teacher refused to believe that I can adequately answer the question.

RUSH:  Your teacher didn't think you could adequately answer the question? Why?  Because I'm so complicated and multifaceted, multidimensional? That would make it hard?


RUSH:  Yeah.

CALLER:  Pretty much.

RUSH:  Well, who made the list that I was on that you got to choose the name from?

CALLER:  My professor.  It was everyone from Harry Reid to yourself.

RUSH:  And you chose me.  Well, that's flattering.  Well, look, William, hang on here a second.  I've reached the end of this busy broadcast segment.  I've gotta take a break here.  Hang on.  I've gotta figure out how to deal with this because I'm 63 and I don't have 63 years to tell you who I am. So gotta figure out the best way to approach this.


RUSH:  Hey, William, stay on hold.  We'll get to you here after the top-of-the-hour break.  But I want you to research that list.  I've got a question for you about that list, your essay on a political figure and my name is on the list.  I want to know if anybody else on the list is unelected, does not run for office.  I would like to know that.


RUSH: I want to get back now to William in Winter Park, Florida.  You're still there, I trust?

CALLER:  Yes, still here.

RUSH:  Now, did you hear me ask you the question right before the previous hour ended?  And there's no wrong answer.  Again, don't misinterpret my tone.  I just want to know, am I the only one on the list of political people that you can write about that's not been elected to office?

CALLER:  I have a list right in front of me, and there are about 30 names on here. I can't accurately tell you yes or no or all of them, but if you'd like I can read you the list and that will be that.

RUSH:  You mean there are some on that list that you don't know?

CALLER:  I wouldn't know, yeah.  There are some names I had never heard before.

RUSH:  Okay, give me a couple of those names you haven't heard before.

CALLER:  Mario Cuomo, Susan Rice, Al From, Bill Bradley.

RUSH:  Okay, you have never heard of Mario Cuomo?  Okay.

CALLER:  Yeah, Mario Cuomo I had never heard of.

RUSH:  Are you telling me -- wait a second.  Hold it a moment.  Your teacher gave you a list of people to write about, who the real X is, and on the list is --

CALLER:  Right.

RUSH:  -- Mario Cuomo, Susan Rice, Al From, Bill Bradley?  You gotta be kidding me.

CALLER:  Yes.  No, I'm being honest.

RUSH:  Al From?

CALLER:  I have to be honest.  I did not know who they were before the list was in front of me.

RUSH:  Well, Mario Cuomo is the former governor of New York.  What's the current Cuomo? Andrew Cuomo's father.  Susan Rice is the one who went on TV and lied five shows in a row about what happened in Benghazi.  Al From?  Al From is a major Democrat Party lobbyist, for all intents and purposes.  Bill Bradley, a former senator from New Jersey whose claim to --

CALLER:  Okay.

RUSH:  -- fame was he's Phil Jackson's buddy.  You know who Phil Jackson is?

CALLER:  Okay.

RUSH:  You obviously know who Phil Jackson is?

CALLER:  Right.  And the only other one that I know that would be like you would be Donald Trump, who was kind of the other outsider.

RUSH:  Okay, Trump.  Trump's never run.  But wait a minute, he did flirt. He actually did have a presidential campaign last year. So I think it's safe to say that so far the names you've mentioned, I'd be the only one who has not sought votes.  But this has gotta be an old list if you've got people like Mario "The Pious" on there and Bill Bradley.  Okay, quickly, you gotta write an essay.  How long does it have to be?

CALLER:  It's 20 pages.

RUSH:  Twenty pages.  Well, look, I don't want to write this whole thing for you.  I'm gonna try to ignite your mind here and let --

CALLER:  Okay.

RUSH:  -- you then head off and run with it, okay?  One of the things I have found as a practitioner of the written word is that sometimes -- this doesn't work when you're speaking -- but when you're writing, it sometimes is a good hook to explain who your character is not.  It's something that if a person got up and started saying: "Look, I'm not this, this, and this," it wouldn't fly. It would sound defensive.  But if you're writing about somebody, for example, if you start out and say, "If you have never listened to Rush Limbaugh on the radio, then everything you think you know about him is wrong."  Then you've got your open right there. 

CALLER:  Well, I've written 10 pages, and that's exactly how I started it.

RUSH:  Well, then you didn't need me.  There you go. 

CALLER:  I was looking for the icing on the cake, if that makes it better.

RUSH:  Because it's the key.  It's the key.  You have to start by saying, "For those of you who have never listened to Rush Limbaugh," comma, "everything you think you know about him is wrong."  I guarantee you you're gonna have every reader hooked.  And the people who have listened to me are gonna be interested anyway in addition, but you'll have them hooked by telling them everything they think they know is wrong. 

CALLER:  I quoted your brother from Zev Chafets' book, and pretty much that's exactly what he says.  Anybody who thinks they know you has no idea until they listen to your show.

RUSH:  That's probably why you were intrigued to do this.


RUSH: Now, I'm just gonna give you a few things that if you then went and did a little research on you could build an essay around, just a few.  Pioneer, slash, savior of AM radio.  And I don't say that braggadociously.  He is laughing out there, but, see, AM radio, you wouldn't even know what it is, William, if it weren't for me.  You're too young.

CALLER:  Absolutely right.

RUSH:  It would not be here.  It'd be on the police channels. They'd be using the frequency for police channels and EMS if it weren't for this program.  Number two, devoted to a love of country and on a mission for as many people as possible to know the founding, the truth of its founding and on a mission to see to it that as many people as possible have total love for this country.

CALLER:  That's great.

RUSH:  And a man who is insistent on the premise of American exceptionalism being understood, period.  Now, you take all that, and with the proper amount of research and so forth, you've got Zev Chafets' book, and it sounds like a number of things out there, plus you listen to the program, you'll be able to put together something that will come closer to defining me correctly than any mainstream journalist ever has, outside of Peter Boyer. 

CALLER:  You've been such a help and this has been such a great experience.  I can't thank you enough.

RUSH:  Wait just a second.  Snerdley is shouting in my ear, "How about Connie?"  What about Connie?  (interruption)  Oh.  Oh.  Oh.  Oh.  Oh.  Okay, now, my suck-up staff is shouting at me here, William, demanding that I tell you other things about me, such as kind, generous -- what was the other one?  (interruption)  Humble.  They are.  They're shouting this at me. 

CALLER:  They'll all be in there, I promise you, I promise.

RUSH:  They're all true, but I would be nervous saying that.  That's what I mean.  You can't stand up and say that stuff about yourself.  I can't say that about myself.  It's sounds too self-serving.  But I'm serious about the open.  The open that I gave you is what's gonna hook everybody for what follows.  You can also throw in, you know, one thing to combat that is one thing I've always said is, it doesn't serve anything for me to lie.  I gain nothing by saying things that aren't true, absolutely nothing.  Never, ever do it.  So, anyway, I think you've got enough there to fill up your 20 pages.  That's a lot of words, but it's a good assignment.

CALLER:  Thank you again.  I mean, this is really cool to me.  You know, I'm jumping in American politics head first, and you're my inspiration for sure.

RUSH:  Well, I appreciate it.  I'm glad to be of service here even though I'm not in politics.  I'm happy to help out in your project here.  Thank you for calling.  


RUSH: Steve in Del City, Oklahoma, great to have you on the EIB Network.  Hello, sir.

CALLER:  Thank you, El Rushbo.  It's a pleasure to speak with you again.  I spoke with you back when you were selling off your Reid letter.  I'm calling in response to who you are.  And, if I may say, from a longtime listener's perspective, I consider you a natural-born broadcaster that was spawned by nature in order to fill the void of common-sense reason and poignant good humor that exists in the sociopolitical landscape of today.

RUSH:  Why, I thank you very much.  You're calling in response to the young student who has to write this piece on who Rush Limbaugh is.

CALLER:  Yes, sir.

RUSH: You wanted to weigh in on that.  Well, that's awfully flattering.  You really flatter me, Steve.

CALLER:  Well, you inform me a great deal.

RUSH:  I like the "force of nature" part.

CALLER:  Well, you know, the Founders were very keen on the laws of nature and nature's laws and the conduct in affairs of men and nations, and we need more of that in the discourse and politics today to better understand the principles of the Constitution, and you do an excellent job of that in a contemporary, humorous, and factual basis every day, and we all thank you out here, Rush.

RUSH:  Thank you.  I hope our young scholar is still listening.  You're right. I found a niche, and I scratched it.

CALLER:  Yes, and, you know, nature abhors a vacuum, and you fill that vacuum. I agree with you that you are the reason that AM radio is still in existence.  I grew up early, like you, listening to rock 'n' roll and country music and what have you on AM, and none of that exists anymore.  It's all talk radio because of your leadership.

RUSH:  Well, again, I appreciate that.  Thank you.  By the way, I didn't tell him that in a braggadocios way. Well, maybe a little bit.  But I wasn't trying to tick off everybody in AM radio. They've said so themselves.  It's just, if somebody's gonna do a scholarly piece, I was trying to advise him on ways to write it that would hook people so they read whole thing -- you know, a bold statement like that would do the trick.  But I, nevertheless, appreciate your kind words; I really do.  This "nature abhors a vacuum" point is key. Before 1988, there was no national conservative media.

Period. Ever.  None.  Then here came the program, and, voila! I don't know if you'll agree with this or not, Steve, but I think the rise of this program and the others that have now come along (Fox News and all the blogs) have turned the so-called mainstream media even more partisan.  I think have turned them even more vicious and angry because of the competitive nature that they find themselves in.  They used to have a monopoly.  Now they don't.  They're mad about that.

CALLER: (silence)

RUSH: I guess Steve is dazzled into silence.

CALLER:  Yeah.  I'm afraid that I'm losing your signal a little bit, so I'll let you go.

RUSH:  That's okay.  I thought you were dazzled by what I said and were speechless. That's okay.  Look, I appreciate the comment, I really do, and I'm glad that you got through.  Thanks, Steve, so much, from the bottom of my heart. 

CALLER: (silence)

RUSH: Here he is dazzled again! He just doesn't know what to say.  



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