Rush's Judgment

Media phenomenon Rush Limbaugh is winning bigger and bigger audiences with his no-holds-barred brand of commentary.

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And from France, there's the 1961 Château Haut-Brion. And the 1982. I have learned that any time you find a bottle of Bordeaux from 1961, no matter what the label says, buy it.''

He has lived in New York for more than five years, and he loves it for its culture and restaurants. He has many favorite dining places, "depending on the mood I'm in and what I want to accomplish. If I want to be 100 percent relaxed, with a loose tie or no tie, or take the jacket off, I go to Patsy's Italian Restaurant on West 56th Street. The people there have become like family. If I'm attempting romance, there's Cafe Des Artistes or sometimes the Sign of the Dove. For a business dinner combined with pleasure, there's '21.' When I want a steak or a huge slab of prime rib, which is frequently, I go to Ben Benson's Steak House on West 52nd. I like Le Cirque. I enjoy it very much. And Bravo Gianni on East 63rd is an Italian restaurant that allows cigar smoking.''

Outside of New York, he says, "I love Brennan's in New Orleans. I've got a familial relationship with the Brennans. I went there over the Labor Day weekend, and, after breakfast we had three different Cognacs and a couple of bottles of Port and some Montecristos, those big nine-inch jobs. We sat there for a couple of hours tasting all these things.''

He pauses. "Tastefully, of course,'' he says and laughs. "With good moderation.'' (Though it is doubtful that Limbaugh does anything with moderation.)
In Kansas City, he loves the renowned Stroud's. "It's not fancy. Pan-fried chicken, gravy and mashed potatoes. It's a small place. There's a two-hour wait and no reservations. But it's unique. Whenever I'm in Kansas City, I cannot leave town without going there.''
When he leaves town--New York town--to get away from it all and rest, he often prefers "the tropical climes. I love Hawaii, Waikiki and Maui. I don't have to get totally deserted and away from things. And then I love to go to London for three or four days and stay at the Connaught. I like three- to five-day jaunts and getaways. I love San Francisco. I think it's the most beautiful city in the world. People are surprised when I say that because I'm such a conservative, and San Francisco is such a liberal mecca. But I love it. And I'm going to Paris for my birthday, for three days. I've never been to Paris, but I'm staying at the Bristol Hotel, and I just know I'm going to enjoy it.''
Over Christmas, he spent eight days on a yacht with his "lady" (he is twice divorced, no children) and several other friends traveling around the Caribbean. On New Year's Eve in St. Maarten, he found, with a little help from his friends, a cigar shop. "There were two boxes of Hoyo Double Coronas,'' he says. "And you can't get those. They are nonexistent. So I bought a box and took them back to the yacht. I knew I couldn't bring them back into the States. There were 25 in the box and eight of us on the yacht, so we spread them around and went through them on the last couple of days.''
Limbaugh smiles and takes a final puff from his Ramon Allones. "Getting a box of Havanas,'' he says, "is like Christmas when I was a kid. And I love nothing better than giving them away to friends who know how to appreciate them.''
To some, it might seem as if this mighty conservative force is talking a bit like a hated liberal taking pride in a welfare scheme: giving away something for nothing to the less fortunate. But on reflection, it is apparent that what he is espousing is merely an example of established conservative theory: trickle-down economics, whereby the increased largess of the rich eventually benefits the less-privileged classes.
So Limbaugh triumphs again. On the air, as another way of tweaking the Left, he often declares that his views have been documented to be correct 97.9 percent of the time. And as he puts down his Havana, rises to leave the studio and enters his limousine for a journey to whatever is next on his agenda, it is clear that even though everything Rush Limbaugh says may not be right, it is most definitely Right.
Mervyn Rothstein is a reporter for The New York Times.
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