Americans would love the President Bush that Rush Limbaugh has had a chance to spend time with. That was one of Rush's concluding comments in a unique simulcast of his show that he conducted with Martha MacCallum on Fox News Channel this afternoon from 1:30-2 PM ET.
View video here.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: The president is a fine man, I like him. He's incredibly upbeat. He's so different in person than the guy you see on television. Confident. Arrogant. Well, not arrogant. Cocky. He's just a life-of-the-party kind of guy. No deliberate presidential behavior as you see in front of a camera. I was back with him for two hours in August. It was two hours smoking cigars with him at the treaty room at the residence. It was -- he didn't stop talking. He took me around the world. He told me what he faced. What leaders of foreign countries faced. Where we're headed. "I tell these people, the United States is a solution -- it's not their problem." He's bullish on the country. But to your question: he's not "a conservative," so he's not leading an ideological movement. He is a Republican. A conservative would not have come in with a new tone and let Ted Kennedy write the education bill, for example. But he thought he had to work with Democrats because the Republican margins were so small. But he's not hurting the party.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: You say he's so different when you're with him off-camera. Does that frustrate you? Do you say to him: "this is the message that you need to be communicating to the American people?"
RUSH: I would never. No, no, no. I would never presume to tell --
MACCALLUM: But does that frustrate you as an observer because it --
RUSH: Yes it does, because I think the country would love him. He's such an engaging, charismatic, laughing, smiling -- he was this way when I first met him when he owned the Texas Rangers. And, he's, the country would love him. I would love for him to be able to do this."
In addition to eliciting Rush's views on the politics of the day, MacCullum had the moxie to ask whether some of his trademark lines, such as "talent on loan from God," aren't pompous. Rush acknowledged that there's a showbiz component to what he does, said that doesn't believe in false humility and takes criticism of himself from certain people "as a measure of success."
MacCullum also raised Rush's experience in rehab. Said Rush: "my life has been totally changed. It has never been better since I - those five weeks, at a place in Arizona, were among the most valuable five weeks of my life." Asked how, in contrast with some others in rehab with him, he's managed to avoid a relapse, Rush twice mentioned that he totally bought into the program. He also pointed out that he had developed a relatively short-term medically-related addiction in contrast with some there who had been addicted for decades.
Rush closed by assuring the audience in his trademark style that he had no plans to stop working anytime soon. "I am not retiring until every American agrees with me, and there's some work still to be done on that."