But as the millennium turned, Mr. Limbaugh faced problems that threatened his kingdom. In 2001, he admitted that he was almost deaf – which was due to an autoimmune disease. He continued his show with powerful hearing aids, but they weren’t enough. He eventually solved his problem with cochlear implants, which created an electronic sound feel. And he learned to read lips.
After years of addiction to pain medication, he was charged with “buying a doctor” for prescriptions in Florida in 2006. He pleaded not guilty, but paid for a state examination and entered rehabilitation therapy. He checked into a celebrity rehab center in Arizona and returned to the air after six weeks to openly tell the audience about his addiction, treatment, and legal status.
By 2008, Mr. Limbaugh was back at the top in the national elections. He boarded Operation Chaos and urged his supporters to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primaries to prolong the Democratic struggles, believing that Senator John McCain could more easily defeat Mr. Obama in the general election. He was wrong but claims to have bothered the Democrats.
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born on January 12, 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the elder of two sons of Rush Jr. and Mildred (Armstrong) Limbaugh. His father was a World War II fighter pilot, lawyer, and Republican activist. His grandfather was President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s ambassador to India. An uncle and a cousin became federal judges.
As a boy, Rush was a chubby loner who disliked school and longed in vain for popularity. He liked radio and made up baseball shows. He never dated during the rebellious 1960s. At the age of 16 he took a summer course in radio engineering and with a radio license got a disc jockey job after school at a local radio station.
After graduating from Cape Central High School in 1969, he enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University at the urging of his parents, but failed most of his courses, including language and dance, and dropped out after two semesters.
In 1971 he was disc jockey for WIXZ-AM in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and in 1973 for KQV in Pittsburgh under the name Jeff Christie. He worked at music networks for several years before settling in Kansas City, Missouri, where he became promotional director for the Kansas City Royals baseball team in 1979.