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Filed 10/11/03

Rush On Drugs? Oh, Tell Me It Ain’t So!

The Self Proclaimed Maharushie Admits To Drug Addiction

What’s To Blame: A Lack Of Character, An Unintended Chemical Reaction, Or Both?

By Perry Hicks

     You can be sure that Rush Limbaugh’s enemies are dancing a jig over the mounting troubles for the AM broadcast giant; during his October 4th (Saturday) radio show, the syndicated liberal talk show host, Lionel, almost burst a blood vessel! Liberals are making the charge that conservatives are hypocrites for having attacked Bill Clinton while being all too eager to give Limbaugh a pass. What is shaping up is a real controversy: Is drug addiction an unintended biological reaction to potent chemical compounds, or is it merely symptomatic of an individual’s lack of character?

     Although much talked about in the media, the Limbaugh’s McNabb crack on ESPN would normally have been just a passing flap. The drug charge, however, could, excuse the pun, be an on-rushing freight train for the self styled “all knowing, all caring, Maharushie”. At stake is not just the possibility of a criminal conviction, but loss of the squeaky clean reputation Limbaugh has enjoyed over 15 years in national syndication.

Unauthorized Biography

     In his 1993 unauthorized biography of Rush Limbaugh (St. Martin’s Press), Paul D. Colford paints a picture of a man who, coming up in the world, was always a bit out of sync with his surroundings, aimless beyond his interest in radio, obsessing on songs, and also more than a bit rebellious: Limbaugh loved being in front of the microphone and insisted on doing on-air shifts his way.

     Limbaugh, for all his self-described love for football, was also portrayed as being a hopeless couch potato. Colford describes a “good” weekend for Limbaugh as one spent, well supplied with junk food, in front of a television set or playing with video games and other electronic gadgetry. Colford also paints Limbaugh as a man “with nothing resembling a personal life.” This is attributed to ultimately causing Limbaugh his first marriage.

     The marriage break-up depressed Limbaugh for a considerable length of time. It is important to note that Colford’s Limbaugh is not one of a man confident of his abilities and exercising considerable control of his life. Indeed, at times Rush Limbaugh would seem to have been barely able to cope.

     Although Colford is sympathetic to Limbaugh, the description is one that the less charitable would otherwise call a “looser”. I say otherwise because Limbaugh’s unique set of personal strengths and weaknesses came to a nexus with an equally unique set of job requirements. His negatives suddenly became positives that would act like an oxidizer to rocket fuel, and so propel him to national celebrity and a considerable fortune.

Direct From the Golden EIB Microphone

     Limbaugh puts a little better spin on his past telling his viewers that if you pursue the avocation that you love, success will surely follow. The road might be long and rough, but one should never, ever give up.

     It should be no surprise that this positive message of reassurance has resonated with Rush’s audience. Given the narrative above, we get a first glimpse of how Limbaugh could cloak the reality of his personal situation and so separate it from his on-air persona.

     Rush didn’t just endlessly debate politics, often he would share with his audience little bits and pieces of his personal life: his struggle for success, his “meeting” (via correspondence) and courtship of his current wife, Marta, his struggle with his weight, new friendships with the rich and powerful, his passion for football, and golf.

     Although Limbaugh was a success before the 1992 election,  the presidency of Bill Clinton brought Rush Limbaugh his halcyon days; a seemingly endless stream of presidential scandals elevated Rush to the kingship of AM talk radio. His show is currently heard on more than 600 stations; a stupendous number when merely being in the top 20 markets is enough to give one broadcast stardom.

     Upon his discovery, Rush’s show was moved from Sacramento California to New York City. It continues to officially “originate” there although Rush now lives in a Palm Beach, Florida mansion.

     After the marriage, Limbaugh’s show promos continued to hail the show as one from New York City. However, at some unknown point, and without telling his audience, Limbaugh stopped traveling and began broadcasting directly from Florida; a possibility made by satellite, internet, and even a special long distance telephone technology. The truth about the show’s point of origination became known when a caller asked Rush if he had, in fact, bought a mansion in Florida? Furthermore, the caller reported that a publication was reporting that Rush was no longer broadcasting directly from New York. Limbaugh hesitated and then admitted that it was all true. Again, Rush showed that he could hide something from his public.

Two Eye Openers: Weight Loss & The Sudden Onset of Deafness

     When Rush took on the additional pressures of a syndicated television show in the early 90s, viewers got an eyeful of the overweight Limbaugh. Just as amazing was his sudden weight loss. Callers repeatedly begged for the diet secret responsible for his weight loss success.

     On-air, Limbaugh admitted that weight had been a life-long problem and over the years he had tried numerous diets. Limbaugh affirmed that over short term all of them had worked but that keeping the weight off was a problem.

     Limbaugh indicated that the diet that he was on was a hybrid of all the best features of all the best diets he had tried. He never was clear exactly why he didn’t want to publish a diet book or otherwise divulge his “secret”. The drift of his argument was that the real key was that he never had to think about food; his cook took care of that for him.

     But, there was something else that he said that was telling: He was no longer perpetually hungry; in fact, he claimed that eating often simply got in the way.

     As a diabetic I can personally attest that stabilizing blood sugar levels will suppress unwarranted hunger. However, this phrase, “gets in the way”,  raised my suspicions. Is it possible that Rush’s hybrid diet got a little pharmaceutical help?

     Searching the internet with the key words “rush weight loss”, lead me to several sites loosely claiming association with the weight loss success of both Oprah Winfry and Rush Limbaugh.. It also brought me to a site discussing autoimmune inner ear disease and Cochlear implants.

     On at least two, the association was Xenical, a prescription weight loss drug that works by blocking the absorption of about 1/3rd of fat consumed. On his show, Rush often talked about “fat free” potato chips cooked not in vegetable oil, but in Olestra, a substitute that cannot be digested. The fat, and therefore the calories, pass on through the digestive tract.

     Limbaugh’s weight loss appeared to be so sudden and dramatic that a reasonable person could ask: did a mounting addiction to pain killers have been the real diet secret?

     The Cochlear Implant site offers further hints: Hearing loss can be due to disease but the cause of idiopathic progressive bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (IPBSNHL), otherwise known as Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease, is unknown. While some researchers attribute IPBSNHL simply to an autoimmune disorder, others are not so sure, and believe that some other factor or factors are at work in bringing it on.

     Rush Limbaugh’s former housekeeper, Wilma Cline, claims that she was the go-between to illegally score Rush powerful prescription pain killers OxyContin, Lorcet (combination of Tylenol and hydrocodone), and hydrocodone (an opioide that can cause addiction after only one prescription- it is more powerful dose for dose than morphine). OxyContin is a time-release form of oxycodone, another opioide. It has been linked to addiction, abuse, crime, and fatal overdoses.

     According to Cline, she began to supply Limbaugh with hydro-codone in early 1999, about nine months after she began employment. According to Limbaugh, the hearing loss began in May of 2001 and was nearly complete by late summer. Ironically, The Los Angeles Times published a story about the connection between hearing loss and Vicodin “and similar opiates” September 10, 2001. The Cochlear device was implanted that December.

     Listeners had noticed, and commented on Limbaugh’s occasionally slurred speech, perhaps as early as late winter 2001. The slurring worsened over the summer.

     Remarkably, Limbaugh was able to fool his audience about his hearing difficulties, even when taking calls, by a employing a stenographer who rapidly transcribed caller questions. Sound level meters allowed Rush to “see” when a caller was talking and so not attempt to talk over them. Outside of the speech difficulties and some unexplained absences from the show, the ruse worked well. Again, Rush was able to demonstrate how he could separate his personal situation from the portrayal of his on-air persona.

     Rush opened his October 3rd show stating that he didn’t want to talk about the drug charges just yet because he “didn’t know what he was in to”. The same day, Bill O’Reilly on his Fox News Channel show, The O’Reilly Factor, reported that Limbaugh had hired heavy weight criminal attorney, Roy Black.

     During his October 10th (Friday) show, Limbaugh confessed to being addicted to powerful pain killers and said that immediately following the show he would check himself into a rehab center (for the third time) to finally kick the habit “once and for all”.

     He did not claim victimization. He did not ask for sympathy. He thanked his audience for their continued expressions of support and hoped that he could come back and continue “their excursions into broadcast excellence”. He did, however, ask for their prayers.

     Is Limbaugh’s case actually one of an unintended dependence on a potent chemical compound or merely a weak man’s lack of character? Can he get it under control? Will he face trial and punishment for illegally using drugs?

     If Rush’s plight has so far been interesting, stay tuned; it is going to get down right fascinating.


Perry Hicks is a former Mississippi Coast resident and was a correspondent for the old Gulfport Star Journal. He has appeared on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” Perry has also hosted his own radio talk show on the auto industry with a mix of politics, and is a former Ford Motor Company technical trainer. He currently works as an Associate Professor of Automotive Technology at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA. 

Contact the Author: royalenfieldcrusader@hotmail.com