Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley defended his decision to honor Limbaugh with an immortal bust at Missouri’s state capitol, saying he had made the decision months ago, before the storm over Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke.
Limbaugh, who was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Tilley both hail from the southeastern corner of the state. Inductees are chosen by the Missouri house speaker and the bronze busts are paid for by the Speaker’s Annual Golf Classic.
Tilley stood his ground amidst the furor and said that the Hall of Fame is not a popularity contest but an index of relative fame. “It’s not the ‘Hall of Universally Loved Missourians,’ ” Tilley told the local paper, the Kansas City Star. “It’s the 'Hall of Famous Missourians.'” And Limbaugh, he maintains, is among the world’s best known radio personalities.
It’s hard to argue with that, although whether his renown can be classified as fame or infamy is debatable. His show lost nine corporate advertisers, including AOL, Quicken Loans and ProFlowers, after Limbaugh referred to Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” when she testified in Congress in favor of birth control coverage for insurers and employers.
Limbaugh apologized – rather weakly – over the weekend after being virtually bombarded by outraged tweets from listeners across the nation. The wording of his apology remained rather cagey, however, and Sandra Fluke dismissed it, saying it changed nothing.
"I do not think she was either of those two words," Limbaugh reiterated on his radio show. No, Rush, she is not a word. She is a person. As is Michael J. Fox, whom Limbaugh accused of “faking” the uncontrollable movements due to advanced Parkinson’s disease. It is a wonder that advertisers did not react swiftly back then. But the issue this time around is not simply about common decency and compassion; it is now deeply politically controversial. And half of the constituents of the nation are women – the majority of whom, it could be argued, make use of birth control.
Fluke testified last week in support of a requirement that health care companies, even those affiliated with religious institutions, provide coverage for contraception. The legislation has turned out to be profoundly controversial, with several state lawmakers gearing up to block the requirement on various constitutional grounds.
Limbaugh will have to share the Hall of Fame limelight this year with someone he might have insulted, had their lives coincided. Dred Scott, the African-American slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom in 1857, will also be inducted.
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