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The Master Entertainer
by Isabel Lyman
4 June 2000

Isabel Lyman A savvy candidate is campaigning to be Al's partner. He is funny, well-spoken, and knows the issues. He is a self-made, forty-something millionaire beloved by Joe Sixpack. He will bring new recruits to the cause. He is a man who says he is ready. Is Al ready? Are the American people ready? Are you ready?

Ready ... for ... some (music, Maestro) .... Rushball!!

Rush Limbaugh, the country's most popular conservative talk-show host, wants to co-anchor ABC's Monday Night Football with Al Michaels. For weeks, he has been using his syndicated radio program to lobby for the coveted spot ever since former pro-quarterback Boomer Esiason was fired from MNF this spring.

Network executives are taking a hard-right look at the man famous for ridiculing zealous enviromentalists as “wackos” and for christening Louis Farrakhan “Calypso Louie.”

Rush recently auditioned for the television job in Los Angeles by watching an NFL game tape with Michaels and calling the plays. Apparently, Rush didn't fumble the opportunity, since he described the tryout as “more fun than I thought it would be.”

It all sounds like a hoot to me, and I'm cheerleading that Maha Rushie gets to tackle the job. Although, I confess, I'd rather watch Hardball, instead of football, on the first day of the work week. But if Rush were in the broadcast booth providing “color” commentary, I would become an instant fan of Monday Night Football, as would many other non-gridiron types.

Here's why: Rush is a master at entertaining and informing. The 20 million folks who listen weekly to his suave, satirical shtick are testimony to that “talent on loan from God.”

Rush also injects lots of sports talk into his political musings. (He used to work for the Kansas City Royals and pals around with professional athletes.) And he sounds and looks authoritative.

Rush is also controversial, and controversy is great for ratings. The National Organization of Women, which has gotten into the business of carping about the content of prime-time shows, has launched a crusade against the verbose pundit. In a letter, the NOW feminists sniffed, “We have no use for a public figure who flaunts bigoted, nasty stereotypes.”

But the NAGs (National Association of Gals), as Rush calls the NOW activists, are arguably in the minority. Several internet polls have been created to query the public for their opinions on El Rushbo. America Online asked the question “What do you think about Rush Limbaugh auditioning for Monday Night Football?” A sizable 63.5 percent of the 33,405 folks who voted agreed with this statement: “Touchdown! Rush is righteous.”

Dittoheads, consider the commentary possibilities from the Doctor of Democracy:

“Using the environmental wacko method of picking a winner, the Dolphins should win tonight, since they are smarter than humans. On the other hand, the Buccaneers represent all that's wrong with money-grubbing, gun-toting white men, bent on preying on the weaker segments of society.”

“Number 84 is wide right. In fact, he's so far right he thinks George W. Bush is a liberal. His tendency to see a conspiracy behind every government program makes him a candidate for membership in the John Birch Society.”

“That was quite a run, Al. He dodged and weaved his way down the field much like Bill Clinton dodged his way around Ken Starr and weaved his way through the whole impeachment proceedings.”

Stay tuned, armchair jocks. ABC says it may announce Boomer's successor this month. Maybe it'll be you-know-who.

This column appeared in The Edmond Sun on June 4, 2000.

Isabel Lyman lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She holds a doctoral degree in Social Science and is currently completing a book, “The Homeschooling Revolution.” Ms. Lyman may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
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