LENO: Now, either you love or you hate my next guest, but you can’t ignore him. He hosts the highest rated national radio talk show in America, with 20 million listeners a week. Please welcome Rush Limbaugh. (music, cheers) I must say, now, I think people are stunned at how thin you are because we don’t see you on TV that often.
RUSH: That’s right.
LENO: How much weight have you lost?
RUSH: Eighty-two pounds, Jay.
LENO: Eighty-two pounds. (cheers and applause) Let me ask you something. Would you attribute your weight gain to liberal portions? (laughter)
RUSH: (laughing) No. I would attribute my weight gain to no discipline and loving every minute of it.
LENO: Well, you know what fascinated me. They followed this on the news shows. “We’re going to go to Rush Limbaugh’s weight gain — weight loss now.”
RUSH: Let me tell you about this.
RUSH: I saw a spread on you in People magazine. Twelve pounds you lost over the summer.
LENO: I did.
RUSH: Big whoop!
LENO: I know. (laughing)
RUSH: I mean I could lose 12 pounds… anyway.
LENO: All right.
RUSH: So I lose 82 pounds, and ABC gets their medical director on Good Morning America: “He can’t do it that way.” I just did it! “You can’t do it that way. It’s too fast. He didn’t do any exercise. He’s gonna put it back on. It’s not healthy. He’s going to die.” Here I am. You lose 12 pounds over the summer, a glowing tribute —
LENO: Thank you.
RUSH: — in People magazine. Why? Because you exercised, or whatever you did.
LENO: Well, I didn’t really do anything, actually. (laughter) See, but, now, would you say — like some people say you are a polarizing figure. Would you agree that you are —
LENO: — or not?
RUSH: No, everybody agrees with me that listens to me. I’m not controversial at all. (laughter) Seriously, this polarizing business. (applause) I’m not — Obama is polarizing Jay.
LENO: Now, how? Now, why would you say that?
RUSH: Now, remember the campaign. We were gonna have a utopia, postpartisanship, there wasn’t going to be any more red state, blue states postracist, we’re not going to have any racial acrimony. Look at how divided this country is right now. His approval numbers are plummeting. People who voted for him did not think this is what they were gonna get.
LENO: But we’ve always been divided. But you don’t see —
RUSH: That’s right. So why do you ask me about partisanship? Of course we’ve always been divided. The country was founded on that.
LENO: You know what — I think it comes from the way you look at it. There — and tell me if this is a fair analysis.
RUSH: All right.
LENO: Like I tend to come from the, “is it cold in here?” kind of guy, and you’re I think more of a “close that damn window.” (laughter)
LENO: Not what you say? Is that not fair?
RUSH: You’re talking about, you’re doing a Rodney King on me: “Can’t we all just get along?” Well, fine. You give up what you believe in, agree with me, and we’ll get along. Why is it I have to give up everything I believe in for comity? Tell Obama, “No, we do not want you owning car companies. No, we do not want you running the banks. No, we don’t want you taking over student loans. And, no, we do not want nationalized health care.” (cheers and applause)
LENO: Now, what would you have done with General Motors? What would you have done with that?
RUSH: Well, let the market take its course. Let ’em do bankruptcy first or go out of business. That’s —
RUSH: — just the way it works.
LENO: But, see, to me I —
RUSH: But we haven’t saved them. We saved the unions.
RUSH: Now, Obama, who’s got a five-minute career, has never run a business, is now running the car company. You know more about it, Jay. You own more cars than Obama’s ever seen. (laughter)
LENO: Well, what I’m saying is, to me, my great fear is once you let a company like General Motors go under, it doesn’t come back in America. It goes somewhere else, and your competition — once you lose your industrial base — like you and I, I think, would agree that —
RUSH: Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah —
LENO: — manufacturing jobs should be here in America and we should have more manufacturing jobs in America, and people should buy more American-made cars. Would you agree with that? (cheers and applause) And to me, to me, you know, when you go to Japan —
RUSH: Didn’t even give me a chance to —
LENO: No, let me finish, let me finish. The Japanese government will subsidize Honda and Toyota and Mazda. And in the seventies they did. They said, “Honda, you’re going to be this company, Toyota, you get this money,” and they gave them all money.
RUSH: Yeah, but you’re talking about Japan, Inc., and they had a 20-year recession. The government cannot run the private sector. Now, you can used a favorite typical ploy, “wouldn’t you agree with me,” then you asked me a question. I don’t accept the premise, “wouldn’t you agree with me.”
LENO: All right. Okay. Okay.
RUSH: What happened to the buggy whip industry when we ended up with the automobile? Did we keep the buggy whip industry going because, oh, my gosh, those people are so wonderful, and buggy whip is so cute, and we haven’t a need for it anymore.
LENO: Right, right.
RUSH: Just because General Motors goes under — it didn’t — doesn’t mean people can’t buy cars. People already weren’t buying the cars for a reason.
RUSH: The market speaks. And I love General Motors. I don’t want anybody to misunderstand. I’m just saying the market will fix itself for people far better than a bunch of people in Washington with no experience in it tinkering in it and trying to control it.
LENO: Yeah, the thing that —
RUSH: So you’re getting caught up in you think it’s compassionate to save all these jobs, to save various kinds of jobs.
LENO: I do.
RUSH: The market has more compassion than Washington. You name for me a government program that’s actually helped, that hasn’t cost far more than what they projected, that’s actually working. I mean, there’s no reason on earth, after Social Security, Medicare, Great Society, war on poverty, they don’t work. Why are we going to turn over the whole health care industry to them?
LENO: They worked for millions of Americans. Medicare has worked wonderfully well for millions of Americans. (applause) I mean, now —
RUSH: Wait a second.
LENO: — to say that it’s starting to run into a deficit —
RUSH: It’s bankrupt. It’s close to being bankrupt, as is Social Security. Your perspective on how it’s working —
LENO: No, don’t say it’s not working. You’re saying it’s not being profitable. But if it’s helping people, it’s working. If you’re saving a number of people from being — (applause)
RUSH: No. I’m not arguing to take Social Security away. I mean, I’m not arguing to take Medicare away. But don’t build on them. They don’t accomplish what they’re supposed to accomplish. Social Security is supposed to provide for somebody’s retirement. That was the original plan. It doesn’t do that.
LENO: I understand. I understand.
RUSH: Pure and simple.
LENO: But who would you like to see as president? If Rush Limbaugh could appoint the president, who would you like to see?
LENO: All right. (laughter)
RUSH: But, see, I don’t want the pay cut.
LENO: Yeah. Yeah. (laughter) Was George Bush a good president?
RUSH: Again, depending on your perspective. Now, he kept us safe. He also did great damage to the Republican Party. To a guy like you, that’s two good things he did.
LENO: Now, what’s that mean? What does that mean? See, here’s something that bothers me. You believe in the capitalist system; I believe in the capitalist system.
LENO: I watch Wall Street, and I go, “Okay, you can make a million, or two million a year. Okay, you can make ten million a year.” Eight hundred, $900 million, some of these people made, a billion dollars. At some point, I mean, how much pie can you possibly eat? I mean, where did it go? Somewhere it went wrong ’cause when I was a kid, Howard Hughes was the richest man in the world with $3.2 billion dollars. Now people have hundreds of billions of dollars, and other people have absolutely nothing.
RUSH: The economic pie is growing. It’s not a zero-sum game. Just because somebody has $800 million doesn’t mean somebody lost it. It means the market produced it. It’s none of my business what they make, Jay. It’s certainly none of yours, and it’s certainly not Barack Obama’s what anybody makes. (applause)
LENO: No, but, to me it’s happening because —
RUSH: This whole question of what — you said you believe in the capitalist system.
LENO: But it’s how you make it.
RUSH: No, no, it’s not. If you believe in the capitalist system, then you have to erase from your whole worldview what does somebody need. It’s not about need. Capitalism is not about need. It’s about providing; it’s about growing; it’s about opportunity; it is about doing whatever you want to do.
LENO: Did Wall Street deserve this —
RUSH: You know what American exceptional is? I’ll tell you about Wall Street.
LENO: Did they deserve the $700 billion that they got from us? Now, using your theory —
LENO: — using your theory, all those guys —
RUSH: You’re talking about —
LENO: — should be out on the street because they screwed up.
RUSH: You’re taking about TARP money?
LENO: — because they screwed up?
LENO: All of it —
RUSH: Giant scam. “If we don’t give them $700 million in the next 24 hours the world financial system will crash.” We’re hearing that if we don’t do health care by August, my God, the health care system will crash. No, we didn’t need to give them $700 billion. The biggest problem we have right now that caused all that was the subprime mortgage crisis —
RUSH: — which was lending money to people that had no way of paying it back, and there were two people that led the way on that, three: Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd.
LENO: Well, I think everybody was in on that one.
LENO: I mean both sides —
RUSH: The Bush administration tried to regulate this and tried to get this brought under control because it made no sense. ACORN was out forcing banks, pressuring banks to lend money to people that couldn’t pay it back, all under the guise of, “We must have affordable housing.”
LENO: Well, I tell you what. When we come back, are you ready to take our Green Car Challenge and see how you do?
RUSH: Oh, yeah.
LENO: This will be your first time in a —
RUSH: Oh, yeah.
LENO: — nonpetroleum-based car.
RUSH: It will be.
LENO: Welcome back. It’s time for our Green Car Challenge featuring the Ford Focus. Ford Motor Company made this electric car for us, and it uses no — you’ll love this. It’s saving the environment. It uses no petroleum.
RUSH: It’s not saving the environment.
LENO: Less than a penny a race. That’s what we use in electricity. All right.
RUSH: It’s not saving the environmentally.
LENO: Mr. Green himself, Rush Limbaugh, is going to try and break the record set by Drew Barrymore. He’s gonna compete against the clock. Are you ready to get in the car? Come around. Got to get going, get in the car. (cheers and applause) Hop in, have a seat. Have a seat. Have a seat. Put your seat belt on.
RUSH: All right.
LENO: I got your helmet right here. Before I give you this helmet, let me explain what’s going to happen. Okay, the first lap you’re just going for speed, get a feel of track.
LENO: The second lap you’ll be familiar with the track, give you a little more speed, but there are some obstacles in the way. We have ping-pong cannons, we have streamers, and Al Gore may jump out in front of you. If you hit Al Gore, if you hit Al Gore, you lose a point. If you hit Ed Begley Jr. you lose a point. So if they jump out you have to avoid them or else it’s going to add to your score.
RUSH: You lose a point hitting those guys?
LENO: I mean you add a point.
RUSH: What kind of track is this?
LENO: It adds a point to your score. Okay. Here’s your helmet, here. Put that on. Put that on. Okay, ready to go?
RUSH: This helmet will not fit my brain.
LENO: It won’t fit your head?
RUSH: No. I don’t want to wear a helmet, for crying out loud. Is the car running?
LENO: The car is running.
RUSH: All right.
LENO: Okay. Put it in drive.
RUSH: It’s in drive.
LENO: When you break the Omega timing light, you start.
RUSH: All right.
LENO: On your mark, get set, go! (cheers) He is off. There he goes. Okay, there he is going into the first tune, going through the chicane now, going through the chicane. His time looks pretty good, good. He’s got his foot in it. He’s not losing any time, that’s for sure. Here he comes down the straight again. All right, coming around, coming around Ed Begley corner, coming around Ed Begley corner. Put your foot in it. Doing well doing, doing well, following his line perfectly, coming down the main straight. Now it gets tricky. On this lap, this is when he runs into some obstacles. Watch out, watch out, don’t hit Al Gore, watch out. Oh, he hit Al Gore! Oh, he’s stopping. He’s backing up. He’s hitting Al Gore again.
RUSH: Number two. I don’t care about the seconds.
LENO: Hey, hey. Here he comes, here he comes. Okay, the streamers. Ed Begley is going to jump out in front of him. You’re not doing your score any help, Rush. Uh-oh, he’s hitting it again. Oh! Come on! Oh, come on. Okay. Here we go. Let’s see. Coming down —
RUSH: Nobody would believe this car is electric.
LENO: Let’s see. All right, now. Hang on. Hop out. Let’s see how you did.
RUSH: What a blast!
LENO: Now, first of all, do you like the electric car?
RUSH: I like the electric car!
RUSH: I like the electric car.
LENO: He likes the electric car. Now, your time is — you committed manslaughter. That adds about 45 minutes to your time. One minute, one, two, six, on seven —
RUSH: I am proud.
LENO: Add three seconds to that. That is the worst time in the history.
RUSH: All right! (cheers and applause) All right. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. It was worth it. It was worth it.
LENO: Let’s look at the instant replay where you hit Al Gore.
RUSH: All right.
(end of segment)