General Motors and Rush Limbaugh's non-existent principles

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

I don't remember much from my days authoring the long-form Limbaugh Wire, listening to and refuting every second of Rush Limbaugh's daily exercise in poisonous logorrhea. I started doing it one day in March of last year and then woke up six months later with a crushed spirit and much more gray hair than a man my age should have. The one thing I do remember clearly, however, are the GM advertisements.

And I was reminded of them today when Rush announced with no small amount of pride that he turned down General Motors' lucrative offer to continue advertising for the company because his strong principles would not allow him to recommend to people the Chevy Volt, GM's brand new electric car, which he very much despises.

Rush is lying. Not about turning down GM -- I have no idea if that's true -- but about not advertising for a product that goes against his principles. Because he did exactly that last year, and he did it for General Motors.

After the Bush administration opted to bail out the foundering auto companies in order to keep the equally distressed economy from collapsing completely, GM found themselves awash in billions of dollars in emergency funds from the government. In order to boost sales in the bad economic climate, they offered a new incentive in March 2009: If you bought a car and then lost your job, GM's payment protection plan would cover your car payments for up to a year. When Rush heard about this on March 31, 2009, he was incensed that taxpayer dollars would be spent in such a fashion:

LIMBAUGH: I know, I know, I'm on the wrong side of this just like I'm on the wrong side of everything these days, because the vast majority of the American people are going, "Hey, what's wrong with that? That's a wonderful idea. Hey, why do you have to throw cold water on every good idea that comes down the pike in this country? I mean, I think it's great that they're going to pay for my car if I lose my job. That's only right." Yeah, OK, well -- ask you a question here: With whose money are they going to pay for your car payment? Mine, dingleberry! And every other taxpayer's!

Then something happened -- the General Motors advertising money started flowing into the Excellence in Broadcasting Network in early April 2009. Once that happened, Rush Limbaugh, who less than two weeks prior had attacked GM's payment protection plan with scatological name-calling, became a full-throated endorser of GM's payment protection plan:

LIMBAUGH: So, you know, GM, Cadillac, all their brands, they're trying to revive. They're trying to get started and kick-start a rally. And they're trying to reinvent the ownership experience when you buy a car from them. And they've come up with something called the Total Confidence Plan.

It starts with a fully backed five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, whichever comes first, and then, of course, On Star, which is standard on every Cadillac model, that safety and security for a full year. On Star is incredible by the way.

But this is where it gets interesting. If you buy a new Cadillac, they will help protect its retail value and trading time, and if you lose your job -- like if you're one of the 7,000 laid off in New York -- Cadillac will make your payments up to $500 a month for up to nine months. So go to -- all details and limitations are there. You have to -- there are some restrictions. You got to take delivery of your new car by April 30th. You can see a participating dealer for details.

But this is one of the things they're trying, making your payments up to $500 a month for nine months.

And he kept on endorsing GM's payment protection plans long after that, never once revisiting his "dingleberry" criticism, but eagerly pocketing the advertising revenue.

So when Rush Limbaugh says his experience with GM shows that he values his principles more than he values ad dollars, he's telling you the exact opposite of the truth.

Rush Limbaugh
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