"I like President Bush," radio host and cigar (et cetera) aficionado Rush Limbaugh wrote in an email to The New York Times Magazine‘s Zev Chafets in a profile earlier this month. "[B]ut he is not a conservative. He is conservative on some things, but he has not led a movement as Reagan did every day of his career. Bush’s unpopularity is due primarily to his reluctance to publicly defend himself and his administration against attacks from the left."
Luckily for Mr. Bush, Mr. Limbaugh has his back, as this informal chat with the president from his broadcast today shows.
With Mr. Bush’s approval ratings at 30 percent (fair-and-balanced footnote: it’s nearly as bad for the Democrat-controlled Congress), it seems that Mr. Limbaugh, his radio crew, and perhaps the staff of his reported five-home compound make up the majority of that figure, as this transcript shows:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello!
RUSH: Oh, jeez. The president?
THE PRESIDENT: Rush Limbaugh?
RUSH: Yes, sir, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: President George W. Bush calling to congratulate you on 20 years of important and excellent broadcasting.
RUSH: Well, thank you, sir. You’ve stunned me! (laughing) I’m shocked. But thank you so much.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s hard to do.
RUSH: (laughing) I know, it is.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m here with a room full of admirers. There are two others that would like to speak to you and congratulate you, people who consider you friends and really appreciate the contribution you’ve made.
RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much. Put ’em on.
THE PRESIDENT: How you doing? This is my swan song? If this is all you got for me, I’m moving on.
RUSH: (laughing) No! The show’s yours; take as much time as you want.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m just calling along with President 41 and the former governor of Florida. We’re fixing to have lunch here, and I said, "Listen, we ought to call our pal and let him know that we care," for you. So this is as much as anything, a nice verbal letter to a guy we really care for.
RUSH: Well, thank you, sir, very much. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this and how much you’ve surprised me.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that was the purpose of the phone call.
RUSH: You succeeded.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.