The speaker of Missouri’s House of Representatives has inserted himself into the middle of the controversy surrounding radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and comments he made about a college co-ed’s testimony before congress about birth control.
Rep. Steve Tilley, (R)Perryville, has decided to induct Limbaugh into the Capitol’s Hall of Famous Missourians. As speaker, he alone decides who goes in.
( More Limbaugh advertisers jump ship )
The move comes just days after Limbaugh tore into Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke’s testimony before congress about insurance covering birth control. On his radio show Friday, Limbaugh said she wanted to be “paid to have sex” by the government.
“What does that make her?” he asked rhetorically on the show. “It makes her a slut, right?”
Advertisers have been pulling away from Limbaugh’s show and he has apologized for the comments, but Tilley claims none of this is affecting his decision, and few have asked him to change his mind about putting Limbaugh in the hall.
“There’s some liberal progressive groups that want me to,” he said, “but I tell ya, I think no one can deny the fact he would qualify for a famous Missourian.”
According to Planned Parenthood of Missouri, infamous might be a better word.
“I was frankly shocked to hear that Mr. Tilley is recommending Rush Limbaugh to the Missouri Hall of Fame,” Director Paula Gianino told Fox 2. “Especially now.”
She calls the move a “slap in the face to women,” who were offended by Limbaugh’s remarks, and says it dishonors broadcasters already in the hall, like Jack Buck and Walter Cronkite.
“They set the gold standard for professionalism. I think it’s an affront to that high standard that we’ve had here in the State of Missouri. I hope Mr. Tilley will change his mind, because I think it’s a terrible, terrible mistake to reward Mr. Limbaugh for this really mean and unprofessional behavior.”
But Tilley insists Limbaugh belongs, saying he isn’t the first figure with controversial opinions to be inducted.
“I think if you look at people who are currently in the Hall of Famous Missourians, from Mark Twain to Warren Hearnes to John Ashcroft, they’ve probably all said things and taken positions that were controversial at times. But when you look at what Rush has accomplished in life and his radio career, undoubtedly a famous Missourian. “
Limbaugh is scheduled to be inducted along with Dred Scott this May, when the legislative session ends.