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Copyright © 2002 

Michael Bradley


Stoned Rush Limbaugh Makes Hypocritical History
By Demanding Harsh Penalties For Other Drug Users

Hypocrisy: hy-poc’ri-sy, n.(LL. hypocrisies; G;R. hypokrisis, a reply, acting a part, feigning, from hypokrinesthi, to answer, play a part, pretend; hypo, under and krinisthai, to contend, dispute.) a feigning to be what one is not; the acting of a false part; a deception as to real character and feeling, especially as regards to morals and religion.*

"The truth is now back on the airwaves; equal time is back in America,"** declared Rush Limbaugh in reopening his radio show recently after returning from an upscale drug rehab center.

But was truth back on the air? Was it ever on the air when Mr. Limbaugh used his particular linguistic skills to attack everyone and anyone who was not supportive of a hard right-wing agenda? Those questions are particularly valid now that it is apparent Rush Limbaugh lives by and within a double standard.

After having been caught abusing some of the most powerful new drugs available, Mr. Limbaugh appears both defiant and unrepentant. Assuredly, when he was exposed and about to be investigated, he admitted to using painkillers, and excused himself by declaring he became addicted because of serious back pain. But whether that excuse is facile or not, the central point is that he did not assume the responsibility of his actions, a point that must be illustrated because it is precisely what he demands of others.

"There’s nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up," Mr. Limbaugh declared on his radio show on October 5th, 1995.***

He concluded the point by noting: "What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we’re not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."***

However, once his drug use was revealed, did Rush Limbaugh have to answer to the harsh penalties he demanded for other Americans? So far, the answer is a resounding ‘No!’

On the contrary, after a very short few weeks in rehab, Mr. Limbaugh is back on the air, declaring his righteousness to radio listeners. How arrogant is it to declare that you, personally and individually, embody truth? Yet that is what Mr. Limbaugh did when he reopened his radio show after emerging from rehab.

But just what has Mr. Limbaugh done? How serious a drug offender is he?

Here is what the record to date shows: Mr. Limbaugh’s housekeeper, Wilma Cline, approached Florida media and Florida authorities to reveal that she had acted as Rush Limbaugh’s drug buyer for years, purchasing "more than 30,000 hydrocodone, Lorcet and OcyContin pills," and she reports he "took as many as 30 OxyContin pills a day."**** Florida authorities then began investigating, and Ms. Cline’s allegations have apparently proved solid, certainly solid enough for the State of Florida to take action.

This means, of course, that for quite a long period Mr. Limbaugh was heavily abusing prescription narcotics while continuing to conduct his radio talk show. In short, this means that Mr. Limbaugh was often under the influence of drugs when he was on the air, delivering a hard right-wing message. To be truly blunt, it appears he was stoned while adhering to a position that anyone who uses drugs should be incarcerated.

Obviously this is the very definition of hypocrisy.

Yet so far it appears that Mr. Limbaugh is enjoying the grace of an understanding law structure and society, the very methodologies that he has decried publicly for years, and from which caustic public assault he has profited mightily. His drug abuse was apparently centered from his $30 million waterfront estate in Palm Beach, but involved all aspects of his daily life.

Mr. Limbaugh, the personally shy and reticent figure, the thrice married and childless college dropout who was something of a failure to his successful and prestigious Missouri family, with its long lineage of accomplished southern lawyers, found his niche in talk radio. It was almost accidental; he filled in for Morton Downey, Jr., at a Sacramento radio station, and that changed his future. *****

Rush Limbaugh found his niche, where behind the anonymity of a microphone he could transform himself from reticent to belligerent, and by using right-wing bombast combined with proper articulation of the English language, suddenly he was marketable through the interests and support of reactionary power brokers who wanted to influence the American public.

But what does it mean to possibly consume 30 OxyContin pills a day? The Bradley Report could not find anyone who could fully illustrate the potential result of what Mr. Limbaugh’s drug supplier, Ms. Cline, asserted was his normal intake.

- TV executives’s OxyContin Experience Shows It Outdistances Morphine -

However, The Bradley Report was able to find a television executive who had been prescribed OxyContin when an apparent viral infection invaded his spinal column and attacked his central nervous system.

This New England media executive, who has asked to remain anonymous for obvious professional reasons, was prescribed 10 milligrams of OxyContin three times a day, for a total of 30 mg per day. Much less than what has been alleged Mr. Limbaugh used daily.

The TV executive used the drug, under a doctor’s care, for about two months. His experience is insightful. It must be pointed out that the spinal infection stopped this man’s life; he was a fit and agile middle-aged man, and this nerve disease laid him out flat for almost six months.

"I was on Morphine from the outset, and it didn’t work," he explains. "But after I began with OxyContin it took the pain away; it didn’t kill the pain, but it got me completely out of it…"

He notes that, "no matter what other drugs I’d taken, this was different…"

And it has changed his view of what drives people who are addicted to drugs. This is a point that has given him greater perspective as a TV executive responsible for immediate news coverage in a major market area of New England.

"Now, when we do stories on people breaking into drug stores, I know why they’re doing it," he states. "The high was just so high; you have to remember, this is a drug given to terminal cancer patients."

"When you get a certain high, you want to get it again," he notes.

But for this television executive the drug was far more negative than positive, and he and his wife, who is also a media executive, found that while it solved the immediate problem – uncontrollable pain – it brought with it a raft of other problems.

His wife recalls that after close to five months of struggling with the spinal infection, and having at this point many of the best doctors in the region unable to find a solution, they were at first pleased at the pain-killing power of OxyContin. And even today, they aren’t sure but they recognize that it is possible the drug stabilized the situation enough that the body itself began to heal and reject the virus.

"About five months into it, the doctor said nothing had changed, and that was good because every time before he’d been worse," she notes, "and from that point on he very, very slowly began to get better…"

"When the doctor told me I had to come off of this, it was the worst thing in my life," he states, "it was everything you might imagine; cold sweats, not being able to sleep, hallucinating…" It was similar to withdrawal from heroin or morphine addiction.

His wife recalls the situation even more vividly.

"When he was coming off the drug," she says, "I was so scared that something was going to happen to him and it was going to be a situation where the medicine hurt him more than the disease; it was so bad, I was worrying that he would go into a convulsion. He was tormented, holding his head, and when he slept he would have these terrible, violent dreams, where it was (obvious) that it was from the deepest part of the mind."

"I was so glad when he started to come out of it," she says, "but for a long time I was really worried that there would be some permanent side-effect; the doctor’s said, ‘Oh no, once it’s out of his system, it’s out,’ but then in the next breath they’d say, ‘This is all good information (you’re providing), we’re still learning about this…’"

- Respected New England Surgeon Explains Drug Effects -

The Bradley Report has also been able to review some of the technical aspects of this situation, with emphasis on OxyContin, with a respected New England surgeon, who also will be provided anonymity, for what we feel are equally obvious concerns.

The surgeon explains that "the active ingredient in OxyContin is oxycodone, a synthetic narcotic, that is the same one contained in Percocet and Percodan, which have been around for decades, and which have 5.0 or 7.5 mg of oxycodone."

He notes that, "Percocet contains Tylenol, and Percodan aspirin."

"You can’t take too much of them without getting too much aspirin or Tylenol, which is bad for you," he observes, "but OxyContin is pure oxycodone, and it comes in different strengths up to 160 mg of oxycodone, so for patients taking long-term narcotics, (such as) cancer patients, tolerance to all these drugs develops and (therefore) the dose needs to be increased to maintain the same effect."

"Also," he notes, "(such) patients do best with a constant level of drug in their blood; this is easiest with a long acting drug, hence the ‘contin’ in OxyContin."

Rush Limbaugh’s drugs of choice, according to police and media reports, were OxyContin, hydrocodone (also known as Vicodin) and Lorcet.

Lorcet is a brand with two principle ingredients, Tylenol and hydrocodone. Vicodin is another brand of this combination. "Hydrocodone and oxycodone do the same thing," the surgeon explains, "and are interchangeable if you correct for the fact that oxycodone is more patient on a per milligram basis. Vicodin and Locet have 5 mg of hydrocodone, which is somewhat less potent than a Percocet containing 5 mg of oxycodone."

Lorcet, he explains, "(is) hydrocodone; hydrocodone may substitute for oxycodone if you take enough, and substitute for OxyContin if you take it frequently enough; (plus) hydrocodone and oxycodone would not interact anymore than 87 and 90 octane gasoline" might do in a gas tank; that is, the difference would be unnoticeable.

"Again," the surgeon notes, "OxyContin is special in that it comes in big strengths, up to 160 mg, and does not contain acetaminophen, too much of which is toxic, and OxyContin is designed to release the drug over 12 hours, whereas Percocets and Lorcets/Vicodins last approximately four hours."

"Crushing OxyContins enables the user to get the 12 hour dose all at once, which is similar to injecting narcotics intravenously," the surgeon notes, "or smoking them or taking them nasally."

The surgeon further explains that "oxycodone is not intrinsically long acting, so OxyContin is a drug wrapped up (and) covered with (a coating) that dissolves slowly, giving a slow or continuous release." He also reiterates that the slow release can be overcome by "simply crushing the pill."

In the latter situation, the surgeon explains, "you can take as much (of the drug) as you want without having to get another drug (to go with it); you can crush up the drug, which makes it a quick release rather than a slow one, so you can get high quick, like you can with heroin, and (as noted, OxyContin) comes in big doses."

The surgeon also relates that he has heard, from state and local police that he often sees in the emergency room, that "illegal Percocets are going for $5 per pill on the street, which is $1.00 per milligram, and a 160 mg OxyContin pill would be $160.00."

With some irony, he observes that perhaps there would be a "volume discount" for buyers like Mr. Limbaugh.

- Withdrawal Mimics or Outdoes Heroin & Morphine -

But for the television executive who was stricken, this situation is too serious even for irony.

"When the doctor’s told me I had to come off of this," he reiterates, "it was the worst thing in my life; it was everything you might imagine (relating to withdrawal from hard drugs), including cold sweats, not being able to sleep…"

His wife is even more emphatic. "It’s like detox from heroin," she says, "he had nightmares, he shook uncontrollably, he sweated, and had a really horrible time…it had to be managed very carefully how he came off (the OxyContin)."

She recalls how OxyContin surpassed morphine. When he first became ill, his doctors ultimately prescribed morphine when they couldn’t find a solution to the pain from his infected nerves. "He was taking so much morphine that when I went to the hospital with him and told the doctors there the amount he was taking, they said, ‘Wait a minute.’ He was taking the most allowed, and we were giving (the doses) more often than were prescribed, and it didn’t do anything (to stop the pain)."

"But the OxyContin made him numb, like he was really doped up," she states. "He was so drugged he couldn’t get out of bed, like somebody who’s really drunk, with no control; he could sleep but that was it, he was completely out of it…"

The drug numbed the pain and allowed the TV executive to begin to rest, and perhaps to allow his body to heal, but at the same time it made him delusional, and he was only taking three 10 mg pills a day.

"People would come to visit, or a good friend would come over, and the only way I would know he had been there was his business card," he says. "I had conversations with him but wouldn’t remember anything about it."

And yet there are indications that Rush Limbaugh used far more than three 10 mg pills a day, and despite his protestations to the contrary regarding back pain, he wasn’t incapacitated, he was fully functional, but perhaps quite a bit more than mellow.

"On my part," the TV executive observes, "I don’t have a problem with people using a drug (to relieve pain, or even for pleasure), but I have a problem with people like (Mr. Limbaugh) getting up there and pointing a finger at others…"

Now fully recovered from his illness, and free of any drugs, he is still offended by the offhand manner in which Rush Limbaugh treats his situation.

"The thing that bothers me the most," he states, "is that Limbaugh uses his platform on the radio to put down the people who were doing just what he was doing…and it’s not only that he’s doing it, but that he got away with it entirely; I know that if I had not gone through withdrawal and had gone out and done it illegally, I’d pay a lot more for it, and he’s offered no apology…"

It seems that Mr. Limbaugh’s story, to date, is indeed an illustration of the height of hypocrisy that can be attained by those who are wealthy and prominent, and in Rush Limbaugh’s case, it can also reasonably be asserted that those who espouse a hard right-wing agenda may well assume that in the end they will be protected by the powerful interests that employ them and benefit from their propaganda.

In all events, it seems clear Mr. Limbaugh feels that no apology is or ever will be necessary, to his listeners or to anyone else, and that somehow no serious penalties will ever be attached to his actions. Responsibility for one’s actions, and the courage to accept fair censure or penalties, is apparently only for those less fortunate than Mr. Limbaugh.

MB 12/2003

* Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, Unabridged, published by The World Publishing Co., (various copyrights) quoted from Pg. 896 of the American version.

** Newsweek, December 1st, 2003.

*** Buzzflash News Analysis, Conspiracy Planet; Newsweek, October 20, 2003.

**** Newsweek, October 20, 2003.

***** Newsweek, October 20, 2003.