10 Questions For Rush Limbaugh

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His reported drug problems have hardly taken the edge off Rush Limbaugh. After his controversial suggestion last fall that the media were giving Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb a break because he's black, the conservative radio talker, 53, has lately drawn fire for remarks seeming to minimize Iraq's prison-abuse scandal. TIME's Richard Zoglin was last week's caller.

YOU'RE GETTING CRITICIZED FOR COMPARING THE PRISON ABUSE IN IRAQ WITH A COLLEGE PRANK. WERE YOU MISINTERPRETED?

I was totally misinterpreted and taken out of context. In a three-hour show, I would wager that two hours and 58 minutes were spent discussing the aspects of those photos that repulsed everybody, including me. The point I made was that this is not worth demeaning our entire war effort. And I think that these photos have been used as a political opportunity here by opponents and enemies of the President to discount the entire war in Iraq.


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EVEN AL GORE JUMPED ON YOU LAST WEEK. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE NEW AL GORE?

I'm not convinced it's a new Gore. I think it's the same Gore that has always been around — unhinged. I'm sitting here, as a guy on the radio, and I'm listening to all of these different factions on the left do whatever they can to get me discredited, and I'm saying to myself, Why? I don't make policy. I am some guy on the radio, and I'm being targeted almost as much as the President is. I'm quite honored by it. I'm flattered.

YOU'VE GOT TO BE A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE TURNED OUT IN IRAQ.

Ah, a typical trick question to get me to criticize policy so that the left can say even Rush Limbaugh has problems with whatever. I am willing to acknowledge that things could go better in certain areas. But I'd rather focus on the positive. I think this is a valiant effort. I think the vision that's involved here is very important. War is filled with unpredictable things. We lost over 1,000 soldiers in a training mission for D-day. A training mission! If we had had the kind of scrutiny in World War II that we have today, we wouldn't have won it.

AS DEMOCRATS GO, HOW BAD IS JOHN KERRY?

Actually, Kerry is quite fun as a candidate. The fact is, they have to keep him hidden. Let's put it this way: the less he's on television, the better his numbers get. He's a charismatic dud.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE AL FRANKEN LIBERAL RADIO NETWORK?

I have not heard them. I do not listen to anybody who does radio. I don't even listen to myself.

THE A.C.L.U. HAS SUPPORTED YOUR LEGAL FIGHT TO KEEP THE MEDICAL RECORDS IN YOUR DRUG CASE PRIVATE. THIS IS NOT A GROUP YOU'RE A FAN OF. DO YOU WELCOME ITS SUPPORT?

In a situation like this, I think it's safe to say I welcome its support, and I don't find it hypocritical at all, because I am not anti-A.C.L.U. If the A.C.L.U. wants to go after, say, Nativity scenes or this sort of thing, I may take issue, but there are other areas where I've supported things it has done.

THE FCC HAS CRACKED DOWN ON BROADCAST INDECENCY. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU?

I'm in the free-speech business, and indecency could be defined any number of ways, depending on who's in power. So it's a red flag to me. I am always concerned about it.

WHAT KIND OF SEASON IS DONOVAN MCNABB GONNA HAVE?

Let me just share with you what I read in a newspaper when the Eagles signed [receiver] Terrell Owens. They said now McNabb has no excuse. What happened after [my comments], I inoculated McNabb from any criticism the rest of the year because nobody, of course, could dare run the risk of agreeing with Rush Limbaugh. So whenever McNabb threw an interception, it was a receiver's fault or an offensive lineman's fault. He was incapable of making a mistake. He owes me a lot.

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