In commenting on the reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s drug addiction, fellow radio talk-show host Michael Savage used the biblical quotation, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  When antidrug warrior Limbaugh was exposed as a subject of a criminal drug investigation, however, it was inevitable that the self-described “epitome of morality and virtue” who preached “character counts” and demanded accountability for Bill Clinton under “the rule of law” would come in for strong criticism.

See, I Told You So was the title of one of Limbaugh’s ghostwritten books, but I could now write the same about Limbaugh.  My article in the March 1995 issue of Chronicles, “The Real Rush Limbaugh” (Vital Signs), was a follow-up to my August 28, 1994, Washington Post column, “Limbaugh, Leftward into Limbo,” both of which questioned his authority as a conservative spokesman.  The contradictions between Limbaugh’s personal and public lives could not be ignored.

Though he was a professed Reaganite, Limbaugh had never voted for Reagan.  A strong defender of traditional morality and religion who told a Christian magazine that Jesus holds “the answers” to life’s problems, he was working on his third marriage and did not go to church.  He said he gave interviews to Playboy and Penthouse because he was a Christ-like figure taking salvation to “the sinners.”

Limbaugh, who was scheduled to get the Claremont Institute’s Statesmanship Award before he went into drug rehab, is not the only “conservative” public figure exposed as a hypocrite.  My Chronicles piece noted that Limbaugh was very close to William Bennett and Newt Gingrich.  Bennett, the editor of The Book of Virtues, became “The Bookie of Virtue,” to quote the title of a June 2003 Washington Monthly article by Joshua Green about his gambling problem.  William F. Buckley, Jr.,  conceded that Bennett had been “objectively discredited” and that “He will not publish another book on another virtue.”  Bennett, however, has returned to television, making an October 24 appearance on Chris Mathews’ Hardball on MSNBC to defend—who else?—Limbaugh.  And, after Limbaugh went into rehab, the Claremont Institute replaced him with Bennett.

Gingrich was orchestrating the impeachment of Clinton on sex-related charges while conducting an adulterous affair with a congressional aide.  Like Bennett, he is a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel, the “conservative” organization that recently became one of the first news agencies to offer special health benefits to its homosexual employees.

Back in 1993, Bennett appeared on Limbaugh’s show to publicize his Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, documenting a 30-year decline in U.S. culture in 14 different areas, such as divorce rates, drug use, and crime.  Limbaugh declared, “It’s time to start championing old-fashioned values like fidelity, chastity, sobriety, self-restraint, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility.  Is that so unthinkable?  Is that too much to ask?”

Ironically, shortly before his own debacle, Limbaugh had been questioning the conservative credentials of California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger.  “He’s not the next Reagan,” declared Limbaugh.  New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd had her own take, writing a column about Schwarzenegger under the headline, “Win One for the Groper,” a reference to his admitted sexual groping of women.  That admission followed revelations about his illegal drug use and involvement in sex orgies.

My own analysis of Limbaugh’s doublespeak had been occasioned by his personal attack on me for something I did not write about him.

The liberal Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) cited the controversy in its book The Way Things Aren’t, which documented Limbaugh’s pattern of making serious errors and not correcting them.  FAIR noted that Limbaugh had said that a “fellow conservative” has “written all kinds of pieces about how I don’t go make speeches for free, for the cause. . . . He’s just one more of these little gnats out there trying to sink a Boeing 747 that’s leaving him in a cloud of dust.”

In fact, my only published piece on this matter was in Human Events, where I noted that Limbaugh had waived his fees for speaking at several conservative events.

I voted twice for Reagan and have a history in the conservative movement going back to my college days in Young Americans for Freedom.  Still, some conservatives criticized me for exposing Limbaugh.  Even today, after Limbaugh’s scandal and humiliation, conservatives with a vested interest in his success would rather pander to his cult followers in the hope that his $300-million empire will not crash and burn.

The drug-legalization movement is ecstatic.  “One of our opponents’ best commanders has been taken down,” reported  “This occurrence will definitely play a powerful part in the outcome of the war against drugs, hopefully in favor of us drug proponents.”  The pro-pot Americans for Safe Access is recommending that Limbaugh switch from the heroin-like Oxycontin to “medical marijuana.”

My apparently controversial view has been that, while conservatives are fallible like everyone else, they should strive to practice what they preach and face up to the consequences when they fail.  To quote Limbaugh, “Is that too much to ask?”

After being exposed as a drug addict by the National Enquirer, Limbaugh hired criminal attorney Roy Black (who successfully defended a Kennedy nephew against rape charges), stonewalled the drug charges for several days, and then issued a carefully crafted statement about going into rehab to shake off an addiction that he has had for years to drugs prescribed by a doctor for pain.  Limbaugh said nothing about charges that he hired his maid to buy the drugs off the street, paid for silence from his suppliers, and tried to destroy evidence in the case.  Jesse Jackson noted that, when Limbaugh got into trouble, he “called one of the best trial lawyers in America.”

An avid golfer who has his own line of golf shirts and sweaters, Limbaugh’s statement said nothing about the “inoperable pilonidal cyst” that kept him out of the Vietnam War.  And it turns out that his hearing loss, which generated national sympathy for him, may have been caused by the pills he was popping.  Not all conservatives bought the story that Limbaugh was accepting “responsibility.”  In the conservative talk-radio world, Michael Graham said Limbaugh had “pulled a Clinton”; Ken Hamblin said he was “maneuvering to get a free pass for violating our federal drugs laws”; and Mark Davis urged prosecution of Limbaugh and his maid for the “willful violation of controlled-substance laws.”

Graham also said that, “If we as conservatives give Rush a pass, we will be confirming what the Left already wants to believe about us . . . We listeners didn’t take his beliefs about responsibility and character to heart, it was all just show business.”

On the other hand, in a column posted on Limbaugh’s own website, Paul Jacob wrote that Limbaugh’s rhetoric about morality was just an exercise in “rollicking facetiousness” and was not to be taken seriously.

The situation went from bad to worse after the conservative Club for Growth welcomed “El Rushbo” back to the air with an advertisement in the Washington Times and ABC News investigative journalist Brian Ross reported that authorities were looking into whether Limbaugh laundered money to pay for his drugs.  Limbaugh apparently had made between 30 and 40 cash withdrawals from his account in amounts just under $10,000.  It looked as if Limbaugh was structuring financial transactions below that limit to avoid reporting the cash withdrawals and, thus, alerting authorities to suspicious financial activity.  Ross reported that Limbaugh’s lawyers confirmed that a bank employee personally delivered cash to Limbaugh at his New York studio in amounts around $9,900.  The transactions were arranged through New York bank U.S. Trust, which paid a ten-million-dollar fine in 2001 because of the Limbaugh cash transfers and others like it.

Limbaugh protested that “I was not laundering money.  I was withdrawing money, for crying out loud.” He claimed he knew who was behind the allegations, and that he would go public with his suspicions “at some point.”

It was then revealed that the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office had seized the medical records of four doctors who treated Limbaugh.  Asim Brown, a law-enforcement agent assigned to the state attorney’s office anti-money-laundering task force, stated in a warrant that Limbaugh’s actions “violate the letter, and spirit” of the law that prohibits looking for a doctor willing to prescribe drugs illegally.

Limbaugh read a statement from his lawyer, Roy Black, on the air, saying Limbaugh was the target of a “fishing expedition.” It looked like a real-life version of Finding Nemo, with a big fish in the crosshairs.

The Club for Growth ad said that America had been waiting for Limbaugh to return “to his rightful place behind the EIB Golden Microphone” to keep the world safe from “loony liberalism.”

Speculation is mounting, however, that Limbaugh might have to leave his golden microphone and vacate his $24-million oceanfront mansion for less luxurious accommodations.