BRETT: When I think back about my experience working with Rush, listening to Rush before I had anything to do with the program itself on a day-to-day basis, I always think about the immense power that the audience held for creating amazing change. And what I mean by that is the ability of this audience to bring about charitable change, right?
We talked on Wednesday about the impressive contributions that this audience has made over the years to help battle diseases and to help charities and to improve the plight and lot of life for millions of Americans. We know that the audience can do great things in that way. And one of the things that I think is so interesting is how much respect Rush had for this audience that they were not mind-numbed robots, right?
Because you hear that all the time from the progressive left, “Oh, the audience is a bunch of mind-numbed robots. They will do what they are told. They think what they have been told by Rush,” all that sort of stuff. The reality is there was an agreement between audience and Rush in terms of America being strong and capitalism and freedom being really the only sure way to go in life.
But there was always the opportunity to demonstrate that synergy between Rush and his audience. It would manifest itself, as I mentioned, in charitable endeavors. It would manifest itself when it was an important political consideration that was happening, right? Remember what happened in 1994, way back in 1994 when you had the Contract with America and Rush was inducted into that honorary class of the Congress in 1995, after the ’94 elections when Republicans took the House back.
But if you go back, back, back, back to 1993, oh, this was a demonstration of power. Other than to support a charity fund drive, Rush rarely asked his listeners to act, as I said. But back in 1993, Rush asked you to call the Capitol with your opinions on the 1993 tax bill, the tax increase bill. That’s when your calls swamped the Capitol switchboard and shut down the phone systems in Washington, D.C. Here’s Rush.
RUSH: Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, I, for the first time ever, gave out a phone number in Washington and suggested that you call it. I did not suggest for you to say anything in particular other than what you think about the deal. If you were for it, I said tell ’em that. If you opposed it, tell ’em that. I did not give you marching orders. I did not say, “Call ’em and then say this.”
I simply gave you the number. I made two predictions. I said, “One of two things is gonna happen. They’ll either notice it and make passing mention of it, or they will say, ‘Well, there weren’t any more phone calls than usual today. I don’t know what Limbaugh’s all exercised about.'” But regardless, I knew that it would be difficult being given credit for it because the credit has come falsely.
I mean, I’ve not done it and gotten all kinds of credit for it, and I’m sure all kinds of talk show hosts around country have probably gotten mad. “That’s Limbaugh. There he goes, getting all the credit for everything,” when I haven’t done anything. And they were right. You know, I don’t doubt you were calling. I know you were.
But you weren’t doing it because you’d been “ax’d” to or told to by me. So on MacNeil/Lehrer Wednesday night, a Congressman hit the raw nerve and suggested that his phones went berserk because I had given out his phone number, and I hadn’t done that. So I said, “Well, let’s just show ’em what happens when I do.
“If they think the volume of calls they’re getting is overwhelming now and from me, let’s show ’em what happens,” and, boy, did you. Let’s review the facts. Yesterday morning at 10 o’clock, yesterday morning at 11 o’clock the House leadership was convinced that they had six to eight victory votes. They had a margin of victory of at least six to eight votes.
At 12 noon, the EIB Network goes on the air.
At about 12:22 Eastern Time, the host of the EIB Network, Mr. Rush Limbaugh, explained why he was changing his procedure for one day only and asked his audience to call Washington and gave a couple of phone numbers. In that first hour between 450,000 and 500,000 calls were recorded (by AT&T alone) in Washington, D.C.
At one point, there were 90,000 calls — the maximum — in a five-minute period. During the hour, there were reports of total shutdown of many phone banks and systems in the nation’s capital. Not just at the Capitol switchboard, but within the city itself. At about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the phone company reported that phone calls began tapering off to the usual 25,000 an hour.
At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, CNN goes on the air with a bulletin: “The House is six to eight votes short of what they need to pass the bill, and the vote will be delayed beyond the originally scheduled 7 p.m. to about 9 p.m.” The vote is actually taking place around 10. So the newspapers today and the wire services today do indeed report this flood of calls at the noon hour.
But they admit to being perplexed as to why, all of a sudden, these phone calls would occur. “It must be those hooligans in talk radio again acting up!” Well, the bottom line is, folks, that you ought to be very proud. You almost… You changed votes. You gave them the shock of their lives yesterday in the House of Representatives.
If you were with me, iIf you watched CNN last night, your local news, you know the focus of the story was, “Hey, wait a minute. The House was supposed to be a lock. The Senate was supposed to be where we were gonna have problems. But now they’re short! They’re short six to eight votes.” You, folks. You did it.
And I am making a point of telling you because no one else will. No one else is gonna give you the timeline, the chronology that I just did — and you should know for the future that you had an impact. And I don’t feel bad about it. I didn’t tell you what to do. I didn’t suggest you say anything.
BRETT: The Day of the Dittoheads, when you saw raw power exercised in a totally peaceful way, to see how many would show up via the phone in Washington, D.C. (laughing) I think that is just the best.