It’s so reassuring when a holier-than-thou “family values” judgmental-type turns out to be human. Rush Limbaugh certainly made my weekend.
The talk radio Bigfoot, after decades of demanding severe penalties for other drug abusers, made a deal with the judge regarding crimes stemming from his own painkiller addiction. Limbaugh’s case will be dropped if he stays on the wagon for the next 18 months.
Republicans don’t have the market cornered on drug abuse. Democrats and liberals certainly have their share of drunks and druggies. The difference is how neither a puffy-faced, hung over Ted Kennedy — nor son Patrick, after tooting snow up his nose as a young man — demanded perfection from others.
Can we expect a contrite Limbaugh to be more understanding of fellow dopers? Probably not. To paraphrase Love Story’s Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, being Rush means never having to say you’re sorry. Listeners will likely be treated to an evasive “Let’s move forward and not dwell on things that are behind ‘us,’ ” or a convoluted rant about the liberal conspiracy that allegedly put Rush in hot water.
Rush Limbaugh is not and never has been a prophet. He’s not even a very effective political advocate. (This guy pounded Bill Clinton mercilessly, every day for the two terms of his presidency, and for the year preceding his first election to the White House.) Despite Rush’s rhetoric, Bill was elected, twice, by wide margins.
So Limbaugh is no different from any other doper who went before him, whether it was the late Senator Joe McCarthy, a boozer extraordinaire, who tried to put all of Hollywood and half of New York City behind bars, or W in his old snortin’ and drinkin’ days, before he found “religion,” or any number of broadcast and show biz types stuck in the “valley of the dolls,” as writer Jacqueline Susann called it.
Limbaugh is an entertainer, talented at what he does. He has a good voice and a quick enough wit, and he fell into talk radio when Americans were tilting right. The result was one of radio’s biggest cults: at his height, Limbaugh had the monster piece of the national talk radio pie.
Liberal Al Franken, by contrast, challenged conservative radio with an embarrassingly boring and currently moribund network, Air America (R.I.P). Franken, an alumnus of the infamously chemical early Saturday Night Live gang, doesn’t seem a babe in the woods. Matured and cleaned up for the grown-up world of politics, though, Franken put his comedy skills into writing real books, including the best seller, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.
Last week, the judge seemed to be saying, “Mega-dittos to that, pal!”