Missouri House Speaker, Steve Tilley, a Republican who represents the Farmington area, arranged the event, giving a less than a one hour advance notice to the public, including news media and potential political opponents.
“Less than 40 minutes,” said Assistant House Minority Leader, State Rep. Tishaura Jones of St. Louis.
FOX 2, which is more than a 2 hour drive from the capitol, received notice less than 30 minutes before the unveiling of Limbaugh’s bust.
More coverage: MO Lawmaker Plans To Honor Limbaugh Amidst Controversy
Limbaugh flew in for the event and arranged to have a substitute host for his radio show.
“Out of respect for the Limbaugh family, which it is an important day for them, we wanted to make it to where it wasn’t a circus,” Tilley said.
Limbaugh spoke to a supportive crowd about 300 people. It included family members and Republican lawmakers.
He helped unveil a bust he expected to be placed in the capitol rotunda. That didn’t happen Monday. He spoke of his Missouri roots and their importance in shaping his life.
“The cultural values that came from that, I think shaped me and gave me a grounding and an anchor,” Limbaugh said.
“It wasn’t handled in the same manner that the other two busts were this year alone,” said State Rep. Linda Black, a Democrat from Bonne Terre. “With Buck O’Neal and Dred Scott it was open to the public. When you shut the doors and you lock them in a chamber of the people, you’re up to no good. “
Word of Limbaugh’s likely induction first came in March, just as Limbaugh blasted a female law student, who testified before congress in support of a health care mandate requiring insurance coverage for birth control. Limbaugh called her a slut and a prostitute on his radio show. He later apologized.
“I think now is not the time, if ever to honor him as a famous Missourian. He’s proven to be controversial. I think he’s unworthy of being put here in the halls of the capitol,” Black said.
“I thought it was an insult for the Speaker to even consider Rush Limbaugh based on his misogynist views against women; his racist views against African Americans,” Jones said. “He deserves no place in the Hall where 4th graders will do history projects.”
She also predicted the Limbaugh bust would never be placed with the others in the Hall.
Tilley pointed to a side of Limbaugh he said the public probably hadn’t seen.
“He’s dedicated a lot of his private life to philanthropic causes, like raising over $30 million dollars for the Lymphoma Society. I think you’ve got a guy that you could recognize not only a famous Missourian but somebody that deserves to be in the Hall of Famous Missourians,” Tilley said. “I don’t agree with everything that rush says, but the fact of what his accomplishments are, makes him worthy to be a famous Missourian. He’s from my area of the state. I’m honored to be the Speaker to induct him.”
“We are exceptionally proud to accept it and extremely humbled, thank you very much,” Limbaugh said, stepping aside to rousing applause.
“One more thing,” he said, walking back to the microphone.
He lauded Tilley for the way he handled the ceremony, saying, “he hung in; it was tough.”
Then Limbaugh blasted Democrats.
“People in his office and the Speaker himself have been under assault for wanting to do this,” Limbaugh said. “They’re deranged,” he said to laughter. “Our friends, so called friends on the other side of the aisle are deranged. This is where my family now forgets I’m here. But he stood up to it and in fact, enjoyed it, threw it right back at them. I want to thank you ... guts ! courage !”
The crowd applauded.
Democrats may have the last laugh. The bust has yet to be displayed in the Hall of Famous Missourians.
“I hope it ends up as a big paper weight on the Speaker’s desk ... I have talked to the Governor personally. I know his wife, the First Lady ... is very upset about this as well. There have been 35,000+ signatures delivered to the Speaker’s office, protesting this bust,” Jones said.
A spokesman for Governor Nixon, a Democrat, released the following statement:
“The Governor looks forward to working with the Board of Public Buildings and the State Capitol Commission to review the purpose and governance of the Hall of Famous Missourians and to develop a comprehensive strategy regarding where all busts, statues and other monuments are displayed in the Capitol.”
The Limbaugh bust went into storage Monday night, indefinitely.
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