RUSH: Folks, today we are starting our 29th year. This is our 28th anniversary being behind the Golden EIB Microphone, and there’s one thing… We’re gonna play some sound bites here from the past. The theme that Cookie set up… She did this on her own, by the way. I offered no direction. I never do on these anniversary shows. She thought it would be interesting to go back and look at the number of different ways I have been characterized and portrayed in various places, by various people over — not all but some of these — 28 years.
And, in that regard, we have one sound bite that’s new in the sense we haven’t played it in this… I don’t think we’ve played it ever in its entirety. It’s from Mr. Buckley, William F. Buckley Jr.’s introduction of me, my first appearance on Firing Line. But, you know, I actually feel blessed to have been able to do my lifelong dream. I mean, I wanted to be on the radio from age 8. And not only have I been blessed to be able to do it, but I truly have been blessed by having people like you as the audience.
Because it’s people like you that have made it all happen, made it possible. And I am aware of this daily. Even after 28 years — and I mentioned this in relation to something else, even last week or the week before. But I go home every day after this program, and I would say four out of five days I’d go home troubled to one degree or another that it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I go home sometimes feeling guilty that I had some really good stuff and didn’t get to just because of the way things fell out in the day.
And one of the things I have to constantly remind myself, is I know what I’ve got here. I mean, I know everything I’ve got as a result of the show prep that resulted in the show being put together here, but you don’t. But I have so much faith and confidence in you that I think you do know. I think you are so intelligent and so aware and so informed, that if I don’t get to something every day that you know I didn’t get it, and you’re disappointed or angry, thinking I didn’t prioritize correctly or whatever.
And that’s because I’ve often — I’ve always — believed that you are among the smartest people in the country, and that’s why I don’t talk down to you or in any other way be arrogant. In fact, it’s one of the greatest comforts in the world to realize and think that the people listening are smart, ’cause it means you’re gonna get it. It means you’re gonna understand. And I also have great faith that many of you are here every day, and so therefore you understand the context of each show because you heard the day before.
And that’s truly a blessing. I don’t know what many other people who do this think of their audiences. I don’t know how much they think about them. And this is not intended as a put-down. But, as far as I’m concerned, you are it each and every day. You out there are what this is all about. And I do. I go home… When I say “troubled,” it’s not devastatingly troubled ’cause there’s always tomorrow to fix whatever might not have gone right or whatever I might not have done or gotten to. So it’s always, ultimately, a positive.
And I never assume that you’re gonna be here every day. I think that’s another reason I go home troubled. I go home worried that, “Oh, gosh, they’re gonna think that they’re missing it! I’m not getting to certain things.” And this is not a Stick-to-the-Issues Crowd comment. This is just an acknowledgment that you are informed and aware. You know what I say’s going on out there, and some of you have expectations or desires to hear what I think about it, and if I don’t think I get to it every day, I just don’t want to let anybody down.
I can always fix it the next day if necessary. So it’s a roundabout way of saying “thank you” and acknowledging your primacy and your supreme relevance in all of this and what it is and what it has become. I thank you from the bottom of my heart each and every day, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart each and every night, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart each and every morning when I am sitting here getting ready for this.
So, with that as the theme, things that have been said about me — humorous and otherwise — the way I’ve been characterized over these recent years, past years, and we just have… It’s just three things here. We’re not gonna spend a whole lot of time here. The first is my mother. This was in the early 1990s. She was telling… I don’t know where this was. She might have been on the air here. I might have been interviewing her. It might have been an interview somebody else did.
My mother once welcomed the National Enquirer into our home and offered to answer any question they had based on the fact that we Limbaughs have nothing to hide. (chuckling) The Enquirer could not believe it. I couldn’t believe it when I found out about it! I would go home to see my mom, and it wasn’t to talk about me. There were 200, 300 books every weekday that people from all over the country had sent her that I had to sign. There wasn’t any time to talk to her about how she was doing.
“You owe it to these people! You sign these books.”
“Oh, jeez. I’d rather go to Taco Bell.”
There was one instance where I flew into town on EIB 1, and on Sunday was the time she usually took me to the airport, and this particular Sunday she left half an hour early.
“I’ll meet you there. David, your brother’s gonna take you. I gotta do something.”
I didn’t think anything of it. When I got out to the airport, there were 20 people on the airplane, and half of them she didn’t know! She had just invited them. They were stopping into the town just to say hi to her, pulling out of I-55. And she invited people aboard! She knew I would say no to that. Security risk.
“Mom, you can’t bring people you don’t even know!”
“Oh, no, no. You don’t understand. They love you. They wouldn’t do anything.”
So there’s 20 people on the airplane, all with books. She was just famous for it. She was just so honored that so many people liked her son that she just didn’t say no. I mean, there were people at my grandfather’s funeral that we didn’t know. She invited ’em, almost like stuck a sign out on I-55 that said, “Stop for Limbaugh Sr.’s funeral today if you have the time.” I roll up and I’m looking around, “What is that?” (chuckling) So here she is in the early 1990s talking about me in my children-kindergarten days.
MRS. LIMBAUGH: We had four- and five-year-old kindergarten here at the college, you know, The Train School, they call it, and one day the teacher, who is now gone, had me in for conference, like she did all the parents. She said, “If Rush doesn’t…” She called him Rush. “If Rush doesn’t change his ways, he’ll never grow to be the man his grandfather is, or his father.
RUSH: I’m 4 years old, and they’re already pronouncing me a failure, in kindergarten! (laughing) Calling my mom in, saying if I don’t change my ways… I don’t know what I was doing. Throwing things at people? I don’t know what I was doing. So here’s a montage that Cookie put together: 28 years of confounding the establishment, confounding the media and politicians, trying to explain who I am in nicknames and description. Let me give you some of the people here in this montage.
We have Chris Wallace. We have Judy Woodruff. We have CNN’s John Berman. We have Hugh Hewitt. We have Patsy Schroeder. We have Chris Matthews. We have Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, [James] Carville, Carol Costello, Amanda Carpenter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Kaine, Donna Brazile, Mario Cuomo, F. Chuck Todd, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Barack Obama, Dee Dee Myers, Billy Bush, Camille Paglia, Lisa Myers, John Podesta, E. D. Hill, John McCain, Mike Tirico, Al Michaels, Steve Melnyk, [Donald] Trump, Jack Germond, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Barbara Walters.
That’s the order of the montage Cookie put together here.
CHRIS WALLACE: Love him or hate him. Rush Limbaugh is the King of Conservative Talk Radio.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Rush Limbaugh is the ratings king of talk radio.
JOHN BERMAN: Rush Limbaugh the dean of conservative talk radio.
HUGH HEWITT: Rush is, in fact, the Big Kahuna.
PAT SCHROEDER: (echo) And they had the big Kahuna none other than Rush Limbaugh.
YUNJI DE NIES: (B-roll) Rush Limbaugh is big, big voice, big audience.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Rush Limbaugh is beginning to look more and more like Mr. Big.
BARBARA WALTERS: (B-roll, voiceover) Rush Limbaugh, the most powerful and successful conservative radio talk show host in the country.
TOM BROKAW: A powerful voice in American politics, Rush Limbaugh…
D.L. HUGHLEY: Rush Limbaugh, who is the de facto leader of the Republican Party.
JAMES CARVILLE: Rush Limbaugh is the de facto head of the Republican Party.
JAMES CARVILLE: He is the most powerful person in that party.
JAMES CARVILLE: He is the daddy of the Republican Party.
TIM KAINE: Their de facto chairman Rush Limbaugh…
CAROL COSTELLO: (shouting) Rush Limbaugh still looms large! The man TIME Magazine calls the GOP’s savior.
AMANDA CARPENTER: Rush Limbaugh, talk radio titan…
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Rush Limbaugh is the 800-pound gorilla in the Republican Party…
DONNA BRAZILE: Rush Limbaugh is quite the entertainer.
MARIO CUOMO: Rush Limbaugh is a master entertainer.
F. CHUCK TODD: (music) Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio entertainer…
BARACK OBAMA: (phone) What Rush does is — is — is entertainment.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Rush Limbaugh (music) is a hero of the right.
DONOVAN MCNABB: … hire Rush Limbaugh as my marketing agent, because he’s done wonders for me.
DEE DEE MYERS: One of my favorite Washington characters, Rush Limbaugh.
BILLY BUSH: If you drive home, and you listen to Rush Limbaugh: Mega dittos, Rush, and you’re the man.
CAMILLE PAGLIA: I think Rush Limbaugh is a huge influence.
LISA MYERS: (b-roll) Rush Limbaugh is one of the most influential voices in the country.
JOHN PODESTA: Rush Limbaugh is on the radio because he’s sharp.
E.D. HILL: Rush Limbaugh looks really good. He looks hot!
JOHN MCCAIN: Rush Limbaugh is the most popular of all talk show hosts.
MIKE TIRICO: (outdoor noise) Rush Limbaugh. He’s extremely talented and entertaining.
STEVE MELNYK: (outdoor noise) Rush Limbaugh’s a terrific player.
AL MICHAELS: You are an everyday treat, and a hugely important figure in this country.
DONALD TRUMP: Rush Limbaugh, who I think is a terrific guy…
JACK GERMOND: Rush Limbaugh, he’s a hell of a guy.
HILLARY CLINTON: (phone) Rush Limbaugh has got this great racket going. (cackles)
BILL CLINTON: (plane noise) Rush Limbaugh will have three hours to say whatever he wants… There’s no truth detector.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I’ll take Rush Limbaugh any day.
GEORGE W. BUSH: (phone) Twenty years of important and excellent broadcasting.
DICK CHENEY: Rush, you do great work. I’m a huge fan.
BARBARA WALTERS: Rush, you darling fuzzball…
RUSH: Barbara Walters. Twenty-eight years there just of characterizations, which, again, we haven’t ever done that. Cookie put it together. And then there’s this. This is the last one. September 16th, 1992, on PBS’ Firing Line. This is my first appearance, and William F. Buckley was one of my idols and heroes. It was a great thrill to get to know him, and this is his introduction of my appearance on that show.
BUCKLEY: Rush Limbaugh is by everyone’s reckoning a phenomenon, the most spectacular media success of recent years. His preeminent medium is a culture almost ignored by American critics, even the most beady-eyed, because it’s assumed that nobody who really counts spends time listening to people talk over the radio. We should have taken more seriously the polls that for a couple of decades have told us that one-third of the American people get all their news from radio.
It is news that Rush Limbaugh sets out to give, though he could not perform as he does without reading scores of daily newspapers and weekly magazines he chews up. His medium is opinion. Advise him that the moon yesterday was caught blinking at the sun, and he will run that through his cosmology and come up with a meaning for it all. And, if the episode was good news, responsibility for that good news would be the Founding Fathers or Ronald Reagan or Clarence Thomas.
If it was bad news, probably it was Teddy Kennedy or the National Organization for Women or the American Civil Liberties Union that is responsible for that frolic. What astonishes is that no one is surprised and only the humorless are really offended. In this sense, it’s fair to say, I suppose, that he gets away with his scams as no one since Norman Lear got away with his in his series All in the Family, done at the expense of every conservative position ever held and glorious entertainment it was.
Rush Limbaugh was born to a family of lawyers, fooled around doing this and that for a while, decided not to sell potato chips for a living, went to Sacramento as a deejay, then came to New York City a few years ago. Veni, vidi, vici, it is said about Julius Caesar; he came, he saw, and he conquered.
RUSH: William F. Buckley Jr. intro’ing on Firing Line. Nobody like him. Nobody like him. We did that show in the drawing room of his maisonette on 73rd and Park, and I don’t believe he had a prompter. There was not a prompter in there. I think that was all off the top of his head.