Recent poll showed Bush with higher favorable rating than Limbaugh
(Update at bottom: 'I'm proud to be an entertainer,' Rush said in 2003)
Republicans appear to be bowing down left and right to conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh, even though most Americans view the radio talk show host unfavorably.
In fact, polls by Gallup in February show that Limbaugh has less favorable ratings from the mainstream public than former President George W. Bush. But while members of Congress and presidential aspirants spent most of the last two years trying to run away from Bush, Limbaugh's power seems to be expanding.
"In a February Gallup poll, 45 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Limbaugh, to 28 percent with a favorable opinion. The partisan divide was steep, with Republicans favoring Rush 60-23, while Democrats disapproved 63-6," Howard Kurtz writes in Tuesday's Washington Post.
ABC's Jake Tapper also noted Limbaugh's low numbers with the general public hours after Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele apologized for calling Limbaugh an "entertainer" after the radio host excoriated him in return during his Monday program.
Tapper wrote, "Our polling director, Gary Langer, points out that according to a Gallup poll completed Feb. 1, 28% percent of Americans view El Rushbo favorably, 45 percent unfavorably. The rest, 27 percent, express no opinion."
"That's a 28/45 favorable/unfavorable rating, which is not great," Tapper adds, before noting that his "fave-unfave is 60-23 among Republicans."
DNC chair Tim Kaine quickly took advantage of Steele's apology: "I was briefly encouraged by the courageous comments made by my counterpart in the Republican Party over the weekend, challenging Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the Republican Party and referring to his show as ‘incendiary’ and ‘ugly.’ However, Chairman Steele’s reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in Washington."
The most recent Gallup poll of Bush's approval ratings, conducted in early January, showed that his favorably rating had risen to 40.
While Bush's unfavorable rating at 59 crushed Limbaugh's 45, previous Gallup polls show that despite a highly unpopular war, myriad political scandals and a recession, the former president's favorable rating never fell as low as Limbaugh's 28.
Media figures keep asking why President Obama and other Democrats keep mentioning Limbaugh. Based on polling numbers alone, they would be insane to ever stop.
'I'm proud to be an entertainer,' Rush said in 2003
While Limbaugh devoted a substantial amount of airtime on Monday's show repeatedly bashing Steele for calling him an "entertainer," he hasn't always held the label in such contempt.
In fact, as a reader pointed out in an email to Raw Story, Limbaugh once said that he was "proud" to be called an entertainer.
On Monday's show, Limbaugh complained at various times: "Okay, so I am an entertainer, and I have 20 million listeners, 22 million listeners because of my great song-and-dance routines here... Now I'm just an entertainer and now I am ugly and my program is incendiary... I'm just an entertainer, ugly, incendiary, they say...And finally, Mr. Steele, we do like to entertain people here. The audience is very smart, sir. They know the difference between entertainment, and they know the difference between deadly serious issues that affect their country."
But in 2003, Limbaugh was a little less livid about the label when he told Mediaweek's Katy Bachman, "I combine two elements: irreverent humor and serious discussion of issues. People tune in for both. But the key is having credibility. This has led to critics saying I am just an entertainer. I'm proud to be an entertainer. This is showbiz. At the same time, I believe everything I say."
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