RUSH: This is Drew in Little Rock, Arkansas. Great to have you on the program, sir. Hi.
CALLER: Rush, how you doing? This is like a lifelong dream to talk to you.
RUSH: Well, thank you, sir, very much. I appreciate that.
CALLER: I sent you pictures a long time ago of me and my sister when we were about two or three years old kissing the television when my parents had it paused on your face during The 1/2 Hour News Hour.
RUSH: (laughing) I love that.
CALLER: Ever since then, I’ve listened.
RUSH: I did have a kissable face back then, didn’t I?
CALLER: You most certainly did.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: I’d even sat in my treehouse at 10 years old and call in to quip with you about presidential elections and midterm elections. So I’ve been listening forever, but I wanted to ask you — shifted from politics, Open Line Friday — I’m getting interested in smoking cigars, and I know that you have your one o’clock cigar that you light up all the time, and while you may be just a little out of touch for people that may not have all the money and the ability to get Cuban cigars like you can, where would I start and where should I start?
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I do not get Cuban cigars. I am a law-abiding American citizen. Now, some people have given me Cubans over the years, but I don’t get them. I wouldn’t know where to tell you to go get ’em, unless you’re in Europe or Canada.
CALLER: Sure. Sure. So —
RUSH: He doesn’t believe me!
CALLER: (laughing) Okay, so you’re a law-abiding citizen. Great with that. So where should I start? I’m kind of lower on the totem pole. I don’t have the access to all the varieties and knowledge that you like.
RUSH: Yes, you do!
RUSH: What do you mean you don’t have access to the varieties and knowledge?
CALLER: Well, you know, since I don’t —
RUSH: What is it that you really want to know? Do you really want to smoke a Cuban cigar —
RUSH: — and you secretly want to find out how and you want to get me in trouble —
RUSH: — with various authorities —
CALLER: Unh-uh. No.
RUSH: — and kissing my face on TV was just a set up for it?
CALLER: No. (laughing) No!
CALLER: No, I want to know where to start. I’ll get to Cubans eventually in my life. I have plenty of years to get there. So —
RUSH: I think if you really want to, you can go to Cuba now and you can buy a hundred dollars worth of Cuban cigars and bring ’em back. I mean, Obama’s done it. You really could, if you wanted to go. If you want a Cuban cigar that bad.
CALLER: (laughing) No.
RUSH: Let me tell you a little truth about something here.
CALLER: All right.
RUSH: Since you… I do know a lot about cigars because they’re a passion of mine and I can tell you this. The finest cigar aficionados — the most achieved and accomplished cigar aficionados — will tell you that the Cuban cigars, after 1997, just aren’t what they used to be. It ties in directly with two things. When the Soviet Union imploded and the $5 billion-a-year subsidy that the Soviets gave the Cubans dried up, so did a lot else.
The sugar industry. The tobacco industry. I mean, it went to hell in a handbasket fast. And they made some other changes. The cigar fad in the early nineties led to the Cubans increasing their output, which meant that they were not aging their tobacco as long as they used to, which meant it wasn’t as good. My point is, there are so many great cigars coming out of Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic today that are as well made if not better made. It’s a shame, really, but the best Cuban cigars are not the ones being made today.
CALLER: Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Well, that’s good to know.
RUSH: You don’t sound either believing or what have you, but I’m telling the truth. You’re not missing out on anything here. You can find fabulous, fabulous cigars from the Dominican, from Nicaragua, from all over the place.
CALLER: Okay, so give me a couple of names where to start, because I do believe you. Don’t let my nervous voice betray my belief. I want to know where to start.
RUSH: The first thing… One of the things I’d tell you to do is seriously go out and find a copy and maybe even subscribe to Cigar Aficionado. And the reason for that is that every cigar made is eventually tasted and rated and is priced, including Cubans. You’ll find every size, every brand, every ring gauge, every length. Not in every issue. You have to read a whole bunch of issues to find ’em.
RUSH: But it’s a men’s lifestyle magazine that started out as Cigar Aficionado. Now it’s much, much more than that but it’s still the only place. It’s the final authority on cigars. But if you’re just looking for an entry-level cigar, then I think you’re looking at what would be affordable.
RUSH: See now if I answer that, the brands that I mention are gonna feel insulted.
RUSH: “What, we’re entry-level? What, we’re cheap?” But I’ll give you a couple that you can’t go wrong with.
CALLER: Fuente, all right.
RUSH: Go out and try to find a cigar in your price range made by Arturo Fuente. Next, Macanudo. Macanudo is a great cigar, mild cigar. Ashton is another great brand. Look, there’s so many that I can’t keep up with all the brands. (interruption) Well, the Padrons. The Padrons are Nicaraguan, but I think they may be out of his price range if you’re really being price conscious here at the outset. The Padrons are a unique structured cigar. I mean, they’re box pressed flat on top and bottom. They do have entire unique flavor. So many cigars out there just so damn good, you really can’t go wrong, I don’t think, if you find one in a… Are there any cigar stores? There have to be cigar stores, tobacco stores in Little Rock. There have to be.
CALLER: Yeah, I’m sure. I know that there’s one at least. I trying to get access to the Clinton Library and Massage Parlor to see what they had but I couldn’t. I must not have made a big enough donation.
RUSH: Well at the Clinton Library and Massage Parlor, cigars are not used for smoking there.
RUSH: There you would need a specific ring gauge and length.
CALLER: (laughing) Oh, man.
RUSH: Well, you opened the door. The Clinton Library and Massage Parlor. I don’t know that they’ve got cigar store inside there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. But seriously, I’m kind of up against it here because I know a lot of these people that make cigars.
RUSH: They attend the cigar dinner every year, and I don’t mean to be slighting them by leaving names out. But I tell you: Cigar Aficionado has a Web page that lists the top cigars for a year, the Top 25 of 2014, for example. Just go to CigarAficionado.com and follow the links, and they’ve got a Cigar 101 page on their site that is for beginners that will take you right to where you want to go.
CALLER: I will do it, Rush. Thank you very much. I appreciate your wisdom.
RUSH: Well, I’m happy to impart it. Now, here’s one more bit of wisdom, too. There’s one thing I want you to learn to dispel. There are many in the cigar smoking community, I love that terminology, the cigar smoking community. A lot of people think that the way to properly smoke cigars is in the morning, if you do one in the morning, make it very, very mild. And then if you smoke one in the afternoon, make a little step up in terms of stronger. And then save the big, powerful favorite cigar for after dinner. And that is horse hockey. If you find a cigar you like, start the day with it. If you find a cigar you like, stick with it and smoke it any time you want it.
CALLER: I will do it.
RUSH: Don’t be ashamed to smoke what you like.
CALLER: That sounds like very good advice, good wisdom. All right.
RUSH: It’s true for practically anything, if it’s legal. You like doing things illegal, you’re on your own there, in terms of shame.
RUSH: But good luck. Good luck. Always happy and proud to welcome another member to the vast cigar smoker community. The more the merrier.