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RUSH: (Clinton impression) “Hey, everybody, it’s Bill Clinton here. Limbaugh has graciously let me come here to start his radio show today, ’cause he’s got three hours and I don’t have any chance anymore. We got skunked last night. We got blown away last night. But I just want to tell you, there is nobody, there is nobody that coulda done any better than Obama did last night. I mean, I couldn’ta done any better. Jimmy Carter couldn’ta done any better. It all started off with that first question. Obama inherited that first question of the debate. It was one of the worst questions since the Great Depression, and there’s nowhere to go after that. Stephanie Cutter said the moderator blew the whole thing. And I just want everybody to know, nobody coulda done any better, not even I, not even I. Okay, all right, thanks, I’m through.” Thank you, Mr. President.

Last night is why, for 25 years, I and numerous others have been begging Republican candidates: “Just be conservative.” Just go out there and espouse conservatism. Go out there and espouse conservative principles and ideas and relate them to policy and life and culture, and you cannot lose, because the left has no idea what to do with it. You know, the media today is beside itself. Last night they were beside themselves. The media has propped Obama up for four years or five. They have shielded him. They’ve protected him. They’ve run cover for him. And last night he let them down big time.

He phoned it in. He didn’t even show up. And they’re sitting there saying, “You know, we cover for you for all these years, and you come out unprepared and bored and make us look like a bunch of creeps. Let me tell you, Barack, not even we can cover your butt on this one.” You know what they’re really upset about? I mean, Algore is saying it’s the altitude. Folks, it is hilarious. But if there was a single uniting thing in the media that has ’em all irritated, it’s that Obama didn’t use the 47%. I’ve got the audio sound bites, and you will hear it. They are all beside themselves. They thought they had that teed up and all Obama had to do was bring up Romney’s 47% comment and it’s over. And they can’t understand why he didn’t.

Let me help. Let me tell you why he didn’t bring up the 47%. First thing, you people are lying about what Romney said in that 47%. You’ve taken it out of context. Romney was not writing off 47% of the country. Romney does not have an ambivalent attitude about 47% of the country, and to accuse him of it would have been setting him up for another grand-slam home run, of which he had many last night. Now, you people in the media may not get it, but the Obama campaign understands that 47%’s a nonstarter. Romney did not mean what you in the media have accused him of meaning by it. That would have been a hanging curveball for Romney. I’m sure he was hoping for it. He was prepared for everything else.

I’m sure Romney was dying to get that 47% question, and I hope that he gets it down the road, because, you know, there’s another answer to it. “Mr. President, you really want to bring up old videotapes? You want to talk about some things that we found you saying on some old videotapes, Mr. President? You really want to go there? ‘Cause I’ll be happy to. I’ll go anywhere you want to go. You want to talk about Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright and national health care, I’ll be glad to go back and relive everything you’ve ever said on tape.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think that very many people on the left have any idea what hit them last night. You see, people on the left, including Obama, but pick anybody, they do not have an intellectual understanding of conservatism. They really do not. They have rejected it out of hand their entire lives. They deal with it by treating it as some minority way of thinking, a very small bunch of people. They’re kooks and extremists who believe that stuff. Conservatism to them is a foreign language and very few people speak it. So what they’ve done my whole life, and even longer than that, is impugn the character of conservatives. They attack conservatism with cliches and emotions. But in the arena of ideas they’re lost.

Obama was befuddled and lost, and there was nothing he could have done last night to change that outcome. Not with Romney showing up as he did. There wasn’t a thing Obama coulda done. Not a thing. Obama, in addition, has been shielded from any kind of opposition his whole life. He’s been protected. If he got a C at Harvard, somebody gave him an A. If he needed to get into Harvard Law, somebody greased the skids. He’s had the way paved for him. He’s protected, he’s shielded, he has a teleprompter, and his words are written for him. His surroundings are carefully crafted. His appearances are assembled. There are no people of substantive opposition permitted.

As such, Barack Obama has never faced opposition. He’s always been able to reject it. He’s always been able to pooh-pooh and have media people take care of the mess for him. He’s never had to deal with it. What happened last night is precisely why I and a bunch of others have been shouting, have been imploring, have been begging every Republican candidate, particularly in national campaigns: Just be conservative. You can’t lose. Just espouse conservatism. Go out there and espouse the principles and apply them specifically to policy and to culture and to your life and the way you live it and the way you see America and the way you dream and hope for the future of America, and they can’t touch us. And last night was evidence. Just be conservative.

You see, ladies and gentlemen, we know — we know and understand — liberalism maybe better than they do. I understand what Obama’s gonna say and do before he does it. That’s why I said on January 16, 2009, “I hope he fails.” I saw all this coming, and not because I’m a great sage, but because he’s a liberal and I know who they are. I can argue liberalism. I do on this program. Everybody says this program is unfair.

There’s more liberalism on this program, offered by me as I tee it up to be rejected, than there is conservatism anywhere else in the rest of the media. There’s more balance. And I don’t need a liberal guest. I can do it. I tell you what the liberal thinking on an issue is. I tell you what they’re gonna say, and then I debate myself. And I, the conservative, always win. I always will!

In the arena of ideas, liberalism has no chance. It has never succeeded. It has never triumphed as it’s advertised. “The best for all” never happens. It never produces that. They can’t argue conservatism. They don’t understand it; they’ve rejected it. They treat it as a joke or something a small little bunch of kook extremists believe. They don’t understand it. That’s why they don’t know what happened to them last night.

Everybody’s saying, “Who is this Romney guy?”

I’m sure that these people really believe that Romney is the guy they’ve put together in these ads, that he did kill a guy’s wife. They think that! They do think Romney’s a felon; they do think Romney’s doing all these horrible things that they have characterized him as doing in their ads. That’s who Romney is, because that’s what a conservative is to them. If it weren’t Romney, if it was Newt that had won the nomination, the ads would be the same.

It doesn’t matter.

A conservative is a certain set of things to them that is in no way close to reality. They have rejected conservatism out of hand to the point that it really doesn’t even exist. It exists as they characterize it. And, of course, they characterize it and set it up in a way that makes it easy for them, in their minds, to defeat it. They just say. “It’s racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia and tax cuts for the rich.”

It’s nothing but a series of cliches that they attempt to characterize us with and describe us as being. But Mitt Romney was not one cliche last night. That’s why they’re all saying, “Wow, who is this guy?” (chuckles) Half of you are probably saying, “Who is this guy? Where’s this guy been? This guy’s better than his own campaign,” and there’s no question about that.

But the liberal worldview was blown up last night, and they still have no idea why.

They think it’s Jim Lehrer.

They think it’s the altitude.

They think Obama didn’t study.

They think Obama didn’t care enough.

They think Obama whatever.

As long as Romney shows up as he shows up last night, they don’t have a chance. What is the most often heard question today that we’re asking? “What’s the next level of scum they’re gonna descend to to try to take Romney out? What’s Chicago gonna do next?” You’ll note that whatever you think — whatever you can see when you start thinking whatever new tactic they come up with — it isn’t gonna be an idea.

It’s not gonna be a way to beat us in ideas. It’s gonna be a way to get even slimier and dirtier in a way that they think they can impugn and take Romney out on the basis of whatever character assassinations they make. But in the arena of ideas, they don’t have a clue, folks! It’s what’s so frustrating to me. Last night could be every day in this country.

If every elected Republican went about his day as Mitt Romney went about 90 minutes last night, every day in America could be last night. There’s no way that they can now run against Mitt Romney as stupid. There’s no way all of these elitists, liberals — thinking they’re the smartest people in the room — and their voters can run around and say that Mitt Romney’s an idiot or he’s a dumb hick like they could with Bush.

They can’t call what happened last night extremism.

They can’t call what happened last night racism.

They can’t say that what happened last night was mean-spirited.

They can’t say that what happened last night was bigoted.

They can’t say that last night was homophobic. They can’t say that there was a War on Women last night. Their entire campaign blew up in their faces last night. Everything they used to make their case is actually nothing more than character assassination or personal assassination against Republicans, candidates, commentators, you name it. And it was all blown up. An independent or a moderate who doesn’t listen to partisan media, radio, TV, talk shows, or whatever, but watched the debate last night?

He or she only knows Mitt Romney by virtue of the TV ads he or she has seen? You understand their head’s swimming last night trying to figure out, “What — what — what — what — what? Wait a minute now! Where’s the War on Women? Where’s this guy that wants to….?” It wasn’t there. Not for one second last night was Mitt Romney even close to the way he has been portrayed by the Democrats, the media, and Barack Obama for the past two years.

Or even six years. In fact, it was Obama near the end of the debate who finally, after wandering in vain for a cogent thought all night, finally had no recourse but to descend to his own cliches. “Billionaires! Millionaires! Tax cuts for the rich!” All the vacuous, empty nothingness that has defined Obama and the left for so long all condensed into 90 minutes last night.

It looked pathetic.

It looked old and tired and worn out just as Obama did.

Last night was not a sporting event. Last night was a discussion about the future of our country, and it was conducted brilliantly by Mitt Romney. Substance, energy, passion, good cheer, inspiration, infectiousness, nice guy, all of it. Bold! He didn’t let Jim Lehrer successfully get away with throwing lifelines to Obama, which he tried numbers of times. By the way, some of the most pathetic questions I’ve ever heard. It was just embarrassing.

And doesn’t matter.

Romney overcame it.

He took control.

Last night was bold leadership. Bold leadership not waiting around to be recognized and to be treated properly and to be shown respect and to show everybody that we’re not racist, sexist, bigots, homophobes. He just went in there, seized opportunity; got in, got it, and got out. So we had a discussion about the future of our country last night. More freedom or more government?

More Central Planning or Yankee ingenuity? More entrepreneurism or more government control? For those of you on the left, for those of you in the media, Obama didn’t lose because he didn’t show up. He did not lose because of the altitude. He didn’t lose because of the moderator. He didn’t lose because he was on Valium or Xanax or whatever I’ve even heard. He lost because his ideas don’t cut it.

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