July 18 (Wednesday)

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Full Name: Rush Hudson Limbaugh III
Born: Jan. 12, 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Rush Limbaugh is a conservative American radio talk show host and political commentator known for his ultraconservative and often controversial opinions, as well as his insulting style. His talk show began in California in 1984. He currently lives in Florida, from where he broadcasts The Rush Limbaugh Show, the highest-rated talk-radio program in the U.S., with a weekly audience of fifteen million. (His fans are known as “dittoheads.”)

Limbaugh is famous for dispensing disinformation, cleverly deriding scientific opinions he doesn’t like as “junk science” while promoting junk science himself. (He was a prominent supporter of former Washington State Governor Dixie Lee Ray, who is widely regarded as a sellout and a kook.) His trademark insults are perhaps best represented by his nickname for feminists — “feminazis.” (He says the feminist movement was established “to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.”)

Limbaugh wrote the best-selling books The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993). He further inspired the book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot (1996), in which author Al Franken portrays Limbaugh as a classic “chickenhawk.” (Limbaugh cheers for war, though he evaded the draft during the war in Vietnam because of a cyst on his rump.)

Limbaugh resigned from his position as a sports analyst for ESPN after he came under fire for making racist comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Soon after, he entered a rehabilitation facility for help with an addiction to painkillers. In 2006, Limbaugh was arrested for drug fraud after authorities alleged that he “doctor shopped” (illegally obtained prescriptions from multiple physicians). The charges were dropped after Limbaugh reached a deal with prosecutors.

Despite his personal problems, Limbaugh’s take-no-prisoners bigotry and apparent contempt for truth make him a hero to millions of right-wingers, giving him considerable political clout. In 1994, he was credited with helping the Republican Party win control of both houses of Congress, and he was a major supporter of George W. Bush, who followed Limbaugh’s lead in virtually celebrating ignorance in order to get votes from people who aren’t terribly bright.