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Block That Rush! | The Nation

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Block That Rush!

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I suppose it would be in my financial interest if Rush Limbaugh were to get his wish and become part of the broadcast team for ABC's Monday Night Football. My book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot is still backlisted, and Rush's presence on prime time would probably help sales by reminding millions of people who had otherwise forgotten what a smug jerk he is.

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Al Franken
Al Franken is a comedian.

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I probably should listen to Rush Limbaugh, but I don't. The way I figure it, I did my time while researching my book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.

The thing is, I'm a football fan. I watch Monday Night Football. Please, please, pleeeeeeze, ABC, don't make me have to listen to Rush. See, when I was researching my book, I listened to Rush. A lot. And once I finished my research, I frankly hoped that I'd never have to hear his voice again.

By the way, it's not so much Rush's politics. If, say, Steve Largent quit Congress (which wouldn't be such a bad idea), I'd be happy to listen to him call Monday Night Football. Let me explain why: Steve Largent knows a lot about football.

Recently on a Fox News Channel program devoted to this subject, I made the point that Rush has absolutely no experience in pro football. The anchor, whom I will not embarrass by naming him/her, took issue by saying, "But he did marketing for the Royals." Rush did, in fact, work in group sales for the Kansas City Royals, the American League baseball team. As FNC says, "We report, you decide."

Rush did, however, play high school football. In fact, Limbaugh has said that he received his 4F physical deferment from the draft because of "a football knee from high school." Which is actually not true. In reality, Rush got his deferment because of a pilonidal cyst, which is a congenital incomplete closure of the neural groove at the base of the spinal cord in which excess tissue and hair may collect, causing discomfort and discharge. Not as sexy as a football knee, but a pilonidal cyst it was.

This is more to the point of why I don't want Rush on MNF. He's a liar. Not the Frank Gifford type, who merely lies about consensual sex, which, though an impeachable offense, gives me no reason to doubt a yards-per-carry statistic Frank might throw at us. (And unlike Limbaugh, Gifford does not call himself "America's Truth Detector.") In Rush's world, "there is no conclusive proof that nicotine is addictive." "All income groups paid less taxes as a percentage of their income during the Reagan years, but the poor received the most relief, the middle class the next and the rich, the least." And "there are more acres of forestland in America today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492." I had considered titling my book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Hypocritical Liar. But I thought that was just too confrontational.

Which brings me to the "big fat" part. When Rush was last on TV regularly, he was very, very, very fat. And that, I think, is one of the reasons he wants the MNF job. Since my book came out, Rush has lost a lot of weight, and I don't blame him for wanting America to see that he is no longer, as doctors put it, "morbidly obese." The reality is, I saved the man's life, halting his slide into food-assisted suicide. Has he thanked me? No.

Besides being an ingrate, Limbaugh is also a lout. In 1993 he called 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton "the White House dog." If he does MNF, I doubt he'll say anything as racist as Howard Cosell's "look at that little monkey go," referring during a 1983 Monday night game to Alvin Garrett, a black receiver for the Redskins. Rush takes great affront at being called a racist, though that didn't stop him from making this observation a few years ago: "Have you ever noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

Rush does like to accuse others of racism, particularly anyone in the Clinton Administration. According to Limbaugh, the "midnight basketball" provision in the President's 1994 crime bill was racist. "At a time when the black community is struggling with the notion that the route out of the ghetto is the National Basketball Association and a Nike pair of shoes, here comes the Administration...and they say to parents, 'Hey, we solved your problem. We're going to have your kids playing basketball midnight to 2 am... Wouldn't it just be simpler to expand the NBA to 500,000 teams?"

Presumably Rush on MNF will be driving home the idea that the NFL and a pair of Nikes is a better way out of the ghetto. Of course, Rush's real problem was with the federal government spending a few million dollars on a program that would provide supervised recreation and job training to poor teens and young adults. Better for taxpayers to spend hundreds of millions on stadiums with corporate boxes. (To be fair to Rush, I support all of the above.)

But again, in regard to the MNF job, it's not really Limbaugh's politics that I object to. For instance, former MNF commentator Dan Dierdorf is a member of the Socialist Workers Party. The fact that you probably don't know that shows how well he was able to keep it out of his color commentary. I just want to be able to watch my Monday Night Football with the sound on.

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