The boss seemed big on me going to the Rush Limbaugh Fan Club meeting at the Laguna Something Holiday Inn—Woods? Niguel? Hills? Is there a difference? Do you live there? If so, why? So I arose at the ridiculous time of 7:56 a.m. Saturday to leave the house at 8. I had been out with sweet Dana the night before, visiting pretty Haley and her mojitos at Avalon. Then we'd gone to the Little Knightto sober up, which was just foolish, now that I think about it. Seven fifty-six was looking as ugly as the Mount St. Helen's sky outside. (You know what I say: the fires are clearly Bill Clinton's fault!)
I didn't want to go, and anyway, it wasn't like the Rush Limbaugh nuts were gonna let me in.
"I can tell my boss the Rush Limbaugh nuts wouldn't let me in," I told my boyfriend.
"No," my boyfriend said—before giving me a mumbled lecture about "work" and my "job."
I got to the Laguna Something Holiday Inn perfectly punctually for the 8:30 breakfast and forked over 15 clams as well as $7.50 for a fan-club membership. I just thought it was so swell of them to offer—me, a member? Well, bless your heart!—plus I can never say no to anyone selling strawberries or magazines or memberships in right-wing nut-job fan clubs. I am what used-car salesmen call a grape.
"So how did you hear about us?" the kindly folks at the sign-up table asked. "My editor at the OC Weekly wanted me to cover it," I said, my Tourette's-like honesty blowing my undercover status pretty quickly. Here's a dramatization of me as an undercover cop:
Perp: You're not a cop, are you?Me: Yes. Yes, I'm afraid so. I am a cop. Yes.
Two minutes later, I was seated at a table for eight when the suave guy next to me offered, "There's a petition in the back to repeal the illegal-alien driver's-license bill."
I took a breath. "Actually, I'm a big liberal," I said. "I think the illegal-alien driver's licenses are terrific."
Here's a dramatization of me undercover at a Klan rally:
Skinhead: Kill the Jews! Me: No! Don't kill the Jews! Skinhead: What are you, a Jew? Me: Yes. Yes, I'm afraid I am a Jew. Yep. Big Jew, right here. I'm a Jew. That's me. I'm also a Communist. Please don't kill me. Damn it!
After I outed myself, kindly old Phyllischanged the subject to the neutral one of her recent travels in lovely Vermont. I managed to hold my tongue about Bernie Sanders, Vermont's socialist congressman—not to mention those Commies Ben and Jerry—and instead countered with tales of my own recent travels to Hawaii, where we went to Punchbowl Cemetery to visit my grandfather, who was a second lieutenant in World War II. See how subtly I establish my patriot cred? I am nothing if not subtle. On my other side, a man who seemed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from a more recent war talked to himself. "What's that thing where the Japanese stayed in the planes?" he grunted.
"Kamikazes?" the others at the table offered quietly.
"Kamikaze," he said. "Okinawa's where the kamikazes are." And then he laughed with himself as he made plane-crashing-into-the-table motions. "Kamikaze," he said again.
The Rush fans began their meeting with lots of news and notices, like one about conservative website NewsMaxoffering a way to protest CBS' upcoming "hit piece" on Ronald Reagan. "Apparently the producers are two gay guys who hate Reagan," said the guy running the meeting, who was also kindly. Then Lorraine gave the invocation, which was much sweeter and more Christian than Jo Ellen Allen's had been at the OC Republican Election Night party (and where Jo Ellen called for Gray Davis' days to "be few"). If you would like to attend the Rush Limbaugh Fan Club's Christmas Dinner, it will be held in conjunction with the Leisure World Republican Club's on Dec. 22 and will feature a "prime filet mignon and, you know, the usual fish." By which Lorraine did not mean Representative Chris Cox. He comes separate.
By the time county Supervisor Bill Campbell came up to talk about the new voting machines, I was bored stiff—but sweetly. (Really, the Rush Limbaugh nuts were incredibly welcoming, for which I applaud them.) Campbell talked about the difference between his service in the Assembly and his current service on the board, and then he gave a terrific rationale about why he and his fellow electeds avoid the woes of term-limit unemployment by job-swapping all up and down the ballot—he trained for public service on the public dime his first term, he said, and didn't know what he was doing until after; shouldn't he give the community the benefits of his publicly financed job training? Well-rationalized indeed, Bill! Then he enthused on his work with Chris Cox, trying to get the police "cross deputized" so they can arrest illegal aliens for being illegal. "Great!" murmured the crowd. "Mmhmm!"
"That hasn't been challenged by the ACLU and the Nativo Lopez crowd?" someone shouted from the audience. The Rush crowd is an irrepressible lot! Not at all, replied Campbell. Seems Sheriff Mike Carona has a task force set to meet and explain to those same folks why it protects them from the browner hordes. The Rush Club's publicity intern, a pleasant and pretty young woman from Nigeria, spoke up in a melodious voice, wanting folks to know there are legal immigrants, too. The oldsters fell all over themselves reassuring her she's swell. They all like her! Then Campbell informed us there's new polling showing that the people in Iraq are not nearly as unhappy as the press claims. Tell it to Donald Rumsfeld, Bill. I seem to remember a leaked memo on the subject. As if all that weren't enough, Campbell told of his dinner with Justice Clarence Thomas. "What a marvelous man!" Campbell enthused. "He's raising his grand-nephew because the grand-nephew's father got in trouble and, you know, is in jail."
Say, you know who will never see a jail cell? Rush Limbaugh!
Just when I thought affable, reasonable-seeming businessman Bill Campbell (he's a former Taco Bell franchisee) couldn't get any red-meatier, he brought up Antonin Scalia. "A heckler—who wanted 'under God' out of the Pledge of Allegiance—popped off in such a provocative way that Scalia said, 'What's wrong with "under God"?' and had to recuse himself!" Campbell is clearly outraged by the wily heckler's perfidy, but isn't Scalia supposed to be the Supreme Court's resident evil genius? How's he getting bested by some godless heckler? D'oh!
An old lady cited The Orange County Register's Gordon Dillow—who is not the paper's resident evil genius (that's Alan Bock!), but is the paper's resident crotchety old coot. "In Gordon Dillow's column the other day," she kvetched—or would have if WASPs could—"he said it was about time to require IDs to vote."
Bill Campbell took it and ran. "The Democrats don't want us to," he said, very, very piously. "They say it's because it discourages people from voting, but I think it's because it discourages voter fraud."
Well, you smug, slanderous bastard.
After Campbell's presentation of the new voting machines and his rightwing bona fides, I spoke with Campbell's guy, Mark Denny. (Denny, I would like to say publicly, helped me greatly with a Medi-Cal matter for my son.) "Everyone I've spoken to is worried about the fact that there's no paper print-out with the computer voting," I told him. "Would it be possible to add that?"
"Sure," he said. "It's just a matter of adding some software."
So why didn't they?
"The Secretary of State didn't require it," he said.
"But he's a Democrat, so he clearly wants more voter fraud," I reminded him. Denny put up his hands.
"I didn't say that!" he murmured.
No, but your boss just did.
In the two hours I was there, a lot was said about Reagan, Scalia, Thomas, Todd Spitzer, Gordon Dillow and the American Enterprise Institute, but little was said about Our Hero, Rush Limbaugh. Not one word was spoken about Rush's recent disgrace—about his crackhead-crazy Oxycontin-popping that gives new meaning to the name "Rush," or about Limbaugh's statement on ESPN that Donovan McNabb isn't worthy of the Eagles uniform and remains a quarterback only because he's black and, therefore, a kind of pet project of the National Football League, a gift to the liberal media, but withal a scourge on American culture.
About the drugs, the Dittoheads said nothing. About McNabb—whose name the Rushies could not bring themselves to utter—one man said sadly, defensively, "It's been proven that he is overrated, which is all Rush was trying to say."
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No, that wasn't all he was trying to say. As Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey put it, Rush is the one guy who "has the guts to say what the liberal media doesn't want you to know: black people are not good at sports."
Since my new friends at the Rush fan club had too much class to try to excuse Rush's serious breach of etiquette in becoming a big, embarrassing, drug-addled loser, I had to go to my girl Annie Coulterto make some sense of it for me. Yes, here it is: Rush's addiction is Bill Clinton's fault, and by the way, did you know Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne?
But I won the raffle! How exciting is that? Since I couldn't stomach actually taking home The Way Things Ought to Be, I chose instead the book And the World Came This Way: Jesse Helms' Contribution to Freedom. I think me and the Rush Limbaugh Fan Club will get along just swell. We have to, since I'm its newest member. See you at the Christmas Dinner!