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David Letterman Interviewing Rush Limbaugh

LETTERMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, you may not agree with our first guest’s politics, but there is no denying the fact that he is one of the most effective communicators broadcasting today. He has his own very popular television program, 20 million radio listeners, and this no. 1 best-selling book right here entitled, "See, I Told You So." Folks, do me a favor. Welcome to the program Rush Limbaugh. Rush.

(Rush Limbaugh walks onstage and shakes Dave’s hand)

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, thank you.

LETTERMAN: Have a seat. Welcome to the broadcast.

LIMBAUGH: Great to finally be here. This is a milestone for me.

LETTERMAN: Oh, please.

LIMBAUGH: I have wanted to be on this show ever since I came to New York.

LETTERMAN: Well, I'm flattered to hear that. Thank you very much.

LIMBAUGH: I think you have the best use of television that there's ever been, and I am flattered to be here.

LETTERMAN: No. Now you're just kissing up, aren't you?

LIMBAUGH: No, no, no. I've been saying this long before tonight. Really.

LETTERMAN: Well, that's very, very kind of you.

LIMBAUGH: Well, I think you're doing a great job.

LETTERMAN: And Rush, to you, I hope you're having a lovely holiday season. Do me a favor. Let me ask you some questions about you as a kid. I know some things about you. I know you're from Missouri. Cape Girardeau?

LIMBAUGH: Cape Girardeau.

LETTERMAN: What kind of a town is that?

LIMBAUGH: Small town, 35,000, average middle class heartland city.

LETTERMAN: Is it near the river? Is that why they call it a cape?

LIMBAUGH: Right on the river, little jut out in the river, a hundred miles south of St. Louis, and I started radio when I was 16. I was a rich kid.

LETTERMAN: Now, how does that happen? Because not everybody can get on a radio station at 16.

LIMBAUGH: My dad owned it.

LETTERMAN: Oh, well, there you go.
(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: But, actually he had owned it at one time. He was not a broadcaster, he was an investor, which is an unwise decision. One-seventh of it he owned, sold it at some point, but maintained influence with the guy who bought it, and I lucked out and got a chance. I mean, literally at 16 years old I'm doing afternoon drive after school.

LETTERMAN: Were you like a disk jockey?

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, played music.

LETTERMAN: Were you good?

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, I was very good.

LETTERMAN: What kind of disk jockey? What kind of music?

LIMBAUGH: Top 40, top 40.

LETTERMAN: Yeah.

LIMBAUGH: And I, you know, like everybody, I flunked speech twice in school, because I didn't outline the speeches. I've been fired in radio about seven times for such things as using the word "therefore" too much. That happened in Kansas City. Really, I got a memo that said, "You're using the word 'therefore' too much. It's cluttering the minds of the listeners."

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: I got a memo from CBS. They said, "We're gonna fire you if you don't stop wishing people a lovely holiday season."

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: That's what I heard.

LETTERMAN: Now, Rush, when you were 16 and had the great fortune to be working on radio, which to me was a miracle how you got on radio, what did you think you would be? Did you want to be like a huge disk jockey?

LIMBAUGH: At the time I thought that I really was just gonna be a huge star as a radio D.J., and everybody said, "You're gonna be burned out at 28. Nobody lasts much beyond 28," and I was gonna actually surpass that. I never really envisioned doing talk radio and getting into politics until 1984 when I left the Kansas City Royals baseball team. I worked there for five years.

LETTERMAN: What the hell were you doing there?

LIMBAUGH: I was in charge of ceremonial first pitches.

LETTERMAN: You would bring the folks in?

LIMBAUGH: Let me tell you a little story. The thing that we did for ceremonial first pitches was to let somebody from the group, if there was a big group that night, go out and throw the pitch, and the biggest group --

LETTERMAN: Like the Kiwanis, the Lions Club, the Chamber of Commerce.

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, but the biggest group we had was the Olatha Kansas Knight Group.

LETTERMAN: I don't know what that is.

LIMBAUGH: It's a city. It's a bowling alley, but it's a city, and we would take the whole committee, about 50 people, out in the field, line them up from the third base line to the first base line, introduce them all, put their names on the scoreboard, and then after I did that on the field with the mike, I said, "Now it's time for the first pitch," and I introduced the pitcher and the catcher, and I had forgotten to take a ball, and so I didn't know what to do, because I knew if I walked to the dugout there wouldn't be a ball with the tendencies of baseball players to tease. So I just asked from the mike, "Would somebody throw me a ball," and out came about 250 of them with every bag and bat and everything, and the Olatha Knight Committee scatters and runs all the way to left field. The whole thing broke down. I loved it. There was 40,000 people laughing at me. I loved it. The management was very staid and prim and proper. These kinds of things didn't happen.

LETTERMAN: No.

LIMBAUGH: So I lost my position being in charge of ceremonial first pitches.

LETTERMAN: But again, that's like a dream job for a kid to work for a major league baseball team.

LIMBAUGH: Well, it is. There aren't that many of them. It's a glamour job, and that's why they don't pay anything.

LETTERMAN: And today you have friends who are athletes, friends who are in sports, football, basketball.

LIMBAUGH: You know, those five years were, in all candour, were some of the best years I ever spent in life, because it was the first time I had been in the real world. I had been behind a microphone in a glass studio.

LETTERMAN: Working for dad.

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: So, but I learned how the real world worked. I met people I would have otherwise not met. I've gotten to know Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns, Paul Westphal.

LETTERMAN: This seems like an unlikely combination, you and Charles Barkley. Here is a guy --

LIMBAUGH: Milk Dud Head.

(Audience laughs)

That's what he calls himself. You've got to know him to be able to call him that, and I do, so I can get away with it.

LETTERMAN: But he's got kind of an attitude. Every two or three weeks he's punching somebody.

LIMBAUGH: No. Let me tell you about Charles Barkley. He's become the best at what he is and what he does. He did it without any help, he did it overcoming a lot of obstacles, and he admires others who have done that, and, of course, I am one, and so we have this natural affinity for one another. We have a lot of things -- well, I've overcome my obstacles too, and am still in the process of overcoming them -- some in this audience, it sounds like -- but that's all right, that's all right.

(Audience laughs and applauds)

LETTERMAN: See, I don't think you want to know. Everything is fine. Don't do that. Because then, you know, the next thing you know, we'll be wrestling up here, and we don't want to be wrestling, do we?

LIMBAUGH: No. Why would we do that? Not with you.

LETTERMAN: All right. So now, so tell me about Charles Barkley -- no, no, not with me. Oh, never mind. -- Charles Barkley, your relationship with Charles, and he is interested in politics.

LIMBAUGH: He wants to run for Governor of Alabama. Now, it's interesting about Charles, one thing you've got to understand, when he says things like, "I'm thinking of quitting," or, "I want to run for Governor of Alabama," at that moment his agent is upstairs renegotiating an extension of his contract.

LETTERMAN: Right, of course.

LIMBAUGH: But if he is serious about this, I would like to pledge my services to him. I would like to be his campaign manager, and I think if he is going to go to Alabama and run for governor, he needs a guy named Whitey. I will change my name to Whitey, and I will be his campaign manager, and I'll let him run for governor, and we'll win, we'll win.

LETTERMAN: Okay, all right, okay.

LIMBAUGH: Now, you can do that with Charles, you see, you can do that.

LETTERMAN: Now the wrestling can begin.

(Audience laughs)

We have to pause for a commercial. We will be right back here with Rush Limbaugh.

(Commercials)

LETTERMAN: You know, a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough, I was invited down to Washington to participate in this Kennedy Center Honors Program. One of the honorees was Johnny Carson, and they said, "We would like to have you come down there and say a few words," and I was very flattered and very honored and very touched, and during the show, half-time of the performance -- I guess it wouldn't be a half-time -- it would be an intermission --

LIMBAUGH: Intermission.

LETTERMAN: -- I got to meet President Clinton and his wife Hillary.

LIMBAUGH: Oh, aren't you lucky.

LETTERMAN: I enjoyed it. No, I enjoyed --

(Audience applauds)

LIMBAUGH: Something I've always wanted to do.

LETTERMAN: Have you met President Clinton?

LIMBAUGH: No, I have not. I have not met him.

LETTERMAN: You know, to me he seemed like he was too busy really to talk to me, and I think that's good, because I think you want a president who's got his mind on other things than saying hello to TV boy.

LIMBAUGH: I'm sure he did have his things on other --

LETTERMAN: Minds on other things. But Hillary I found very pleasant, very personable, very smart.

LIMBAUGH: Did you? You know, there's something about Hillary. I've got to tell you. How many of you in this audience who are out there think that Hillary is a great example -- maybe you do -- for feminists?

(Audience applauds)

LIMBAUGH: All right. I'm gonna tell you. Hillary Clinton is the lousiest, the worst example for a woman who wants to follow the feminist route, because she didn't. Let's look at what Hillary did, Dave. Do you want to follow me on this?

LETTERMAN: Sure. What choice do I have?

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: No. Now, here's an example. A lot of people are clearly bugged by me, Dave, and it's because I have almost a monopoly on the truth, and I'm going to give you an example.

(Dave and the audience crack up. Hoots and applause)

LIMBAUGH: Let me tell you now. Now wait just a second. Follow me on this, folks. This is absolutely true. The feminist movement tells you what you ought to do is strike out on your own, be dependent on no one, and certainly don't be beholden to anyone for what you get. But what did Hillary do? She went to college, found Clinton. They went out and studied in the grass out there with some weeds hanging out their mouths, and they're studying and doing all this. She attached herself to a guy that she saw was going someplace, and when he got there, she took over.

LETTERMAN: No, no, no, no.

(Audience applauds)

LETTERMAN: Now, see, first of all --

LIMBAUGH: That is exactly what happened.

LETTERMAN: Yeah, but first of all, when Clinton --

LIMBAUGH: There's nothing feminist about what she did.

LETTERMAN: No, no, but when Clinton was that age, how could you tell he was going anywhere?

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: Now, this is a good question.

LETTERMAN: You know what I mean?

LIMBAUGH: But wait, there is an answer to this. There's an answer to this. She didn't know that he was going anywhere, but she probably didn't meet anybody else that gave out any signs that they were going anywhere else either --

LETTERMAN: No, no, no.

LIMBAUGH: And so I think she just kind of rolled the dice. Hey look, they got together and they've done this as a team. There is no question about that.

LETTERMAN: Well, I think that's okay. I don't have a problem with that, and I must say again, I had never met her, and I had made jokes about her all during the campaign, and now that they've been in office and so forth, and I was really very impressed. She is just a nice decent sensible woman.

(Audience applauds)

LETTERMAN: And I say that for two reasons, one, of course, because I mean it, and, two, because we're trying to suck up to them to get her on the show.

LIMBAUGH: That's it.

LETTERMAN: But it's true. I was very impressed.

LIMBAUGH: I know everybody -- I was out in Los Angeles for a book party the other weekend, and her best friend is Linda Bloodworth-Thomason who produced "Designing Women" and "Hearts Afire" now, and she said, "If you just meet Hillary you would love Hillary.” Everybody that meets her says that. And I am sure she is a charming woman. Look, I have no problem with Hillary Clinton's personality, who she is, but it's like this Vogue magazine lay-out that everybody is just tripping out over. Here are her photos, which I think one of them looks like a Pontiac hood ornament, to tell you the truth, if you look at it.

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: Look at it and you'll see.

LETTERMAN: You know, you can say that because you are the finest-looking human specimen on the planet.

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: Wait. Now, see, there you go.

LETTERMAN: There I go.

LIMBAUGH: There you go.

LETTERMAN: All right. Hey, hey, hey. We're just trying to have fun.

LIMBAUGH: Wait just a second. That was not a comment on her appearance. It was a comment on the lay-out of the photos. You take a look at one of them. You're a big car buff. You look at a Pontiac hood ornament and you'll see what I mean.

LETTERMAN: All right.

LIMBAUGH: But the problem with all this is, Dave -- what am I missing over here?

LETTERMAN: I don't know.

LIMBAUGH: Is Biff going nuts? The problem with this is, is that the photo layouts are nice, and Hillary is nice, and I'm sure she's charming, but listen to what she says she wants to do, the issues and the ideas. She does it in secret. She won't let anybody in. We knew more about who was running China than who was in that health care network, because we had pictures of the people that were in China.

LETTERMAN: I know, (dumb guy impression) but listening to and understanding the issues, it's too hard.

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: No, no, no. Listen to my show and you'll understand it. That's why I'm here. You know, you should have me on every night to do a commentary to explain what happened issue-wise across America. I heard you say once that the worst thing that could happen on this show is if somebody watching learned something. Remember that?

LETTERMAN: Yeah.

(Dave laughs)

LIMBAUGH: But try it for a minute and a half at night, you know.

LETTERMAN: (Dumb guy accent) It's too damn hard, Rush. We can’t.

(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: I know this is the kind of stuff you don't really want to speculate about, but as a layman -- and I know nothing about politics -- what does it look like to you in '96? What is the Republican ticket? If you had to now pick a Republican ticket --

LIMBAUGH: I couldn't. I don't have any --

LETTERMAN: Take a guess.

LIMBAUGH: No, no. There's 16 people that want it. The Republican Party squandered its legacy given to them by Reagan during the 1980's, and now it's trying to put it all back together. There is not a single set of beliefs, ideals, visions that anybody can rally around right now in the Republican Party, and there is not one candidate yet that has come forth that will allow whatever he stands for to be the standard bearer. It's going to shake out and I think you're gonna see a lot of careers made over the health care debate that starts next year.

LETTERMAN: But aren't you a little bit impressed -- and I am -- and you take a look at where Clinton began the campaign -- he couldn't have been lower and Bush couldn't have been higher -- and now nearly a year later, aren't you a little bit impressed, at least by the activity of this Administration?

LIMBAUGH: The activity of this Administration?

LETTERMAN: They've always got stuff going on.

LIMBAUGH: They've got stuff going on, but they really haven't done anything yet. Like Clinton is now taking credit for all this great economic news. Let me give you a fact. The fourth quarter of this year is performing less than last year's was. Last year's was Bush's. It was part of the worst economy in the last 50 years. This fourth quarter is bad. Everybody is going, "Oh, isn't it so wonderful?"

The economic plan hasn't even been implemented yet, Dave. Wait ‘till you see your pay check in about two weeks, Dave. You'll know what I mean. You haven't begun -- you don't have any idea. I have been working on my year-end taxes, because I have to do that. As a powerful influential member of the media, I have to take various steps, and I'll tell you I know what's coming, and a lot of people don't, and this economic plan of his, there's not one thing that's happened to this country, if it's good or bad right now, that he can take credit for in terms of the economy. Bush was fired. Bush was fired. Clinton was not elected. He got 43 percent of the vote. His approval very rarely goes above that. So I don't think you have yet a whole lot of robust support for Clinton, but I think you still have a lot of people who hope for the best for the country, and he is the guy leading it.

LETTERMAN: So there is nothing about Clinton, nothing about the Administration that you will even begrudgingly say, "Well, this doesn't look so bad"? Nothing?

(Limbaugh takes a long pause whilst thinking)
(Audience laughs)

LETTERMAN: Oh, stop that. Come on, let's wrestle. Let's go. Let's wrestle. Here we go. Come on.

(Audience laughs)

LIMBAUGH: There are things, you know, Les Aspin being fired was a sad thing. He got fired because he put my show on Armed Forces Radio. Did you realize that?

LETTERMAN: No. I didn't realize that was the issue.

LIMBAUGH: Well, see, there's the proof. When somebody gets fired and you look in the newspapers and all the reasons that are speculated upon, the real reason is never there. Did you see the fact that he put my show on Armed Forces Network in the press?

LETTERMAN: No, I didn't see that, no.

LIMBAUGH: See, that's the proof, you see. But in the Washington Times today, Dave --

LETTERMAN: That was the issue?

LIMBAUGH: The White House aides admitted that they're mad that Les Aspin agreed to put my show on Armed Forces Radio Network.

LETTERMAN: You and Oprah have all the money, don't ya? You and Oprah. This is your like second best-selling book.

LIMBAUGH: Seven and a half million copies of three books in print.

LETTERMAN: Oh, my God.

LIMBAUGH: And about five million sold. I'm just -- I'm overwhelmed by it. I mean, I never thought that anything like this would ever happen to me, and I'm thrilled and excited, and I thank everybody, everybody in the audience, including the liberals out there.

LETTERMAN: Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just think to yourself, "I am just full of hot gas?" Do you know what I mean? And of course --

(Audience cheers and applauds)

LIMBAUGH: Dave, let me tell you something.

LETTERMAN: No, I mean that, of course -- but you know what I'm saying. Do you ever think, "I'm just fooling people"?

LIMBAUGH: Isn't it a great country where two people who look as weird as you and I do can become huge stars?

LETTERMAN: Well, yeah. Because I'm always waiting --

LIMBAUGH: I don't think of myself -- Dave, let me tell you something. I am a servant of humanity. I am in the relentless pursuit of the truth. I actually sit back and think that I'm just so fortunate to have this opportunity to tell people what's really going on.

LETTERMAN: Well, see, I feel that way about my job, but I'm always waiting for somebody to say, "Dave, time to go back to Indiana."

(Audience laughs)

I'm just waiting, waiting to get that tap on the shoulder.

LIMBAUGH: Well, I'll see you when you get there.

LETTERMAN: Listen, it was a pleasure meeting you, Rush.

LIMBAUGH: It was a pleasure meeting you.

LETTERMAN: And I hope you can come back, and enjoy your vacation.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you. I appreciate your letting me come on. Thank you.

LETTERMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, there he is, Rush Limbaugh.

(Audience applauds)

THE END
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December 17th 1993
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