If you had to name one famous person who came from Missouri, who would it be? A Sports star? One of their Congressional representatives? Maybe such Missouri luminaries as actor Vincent Price (who originally came from Saint Louis) or poet T.S. Eliot (also from Saint Louis)? Maybe former President Harry Truman, or peanut butter inventor George Washington Carver, or animator Walt Disney, or writer Mark Twain?
Or maybe even...Rush Limbaugh, originally from Cape Girardeau?
Odds are that among those who know Limbaugh's origins, he's almost certainly one of the most famous Missourians people can name. And perhaps for that reason, today Limbaugh was given the distinct honor of being inducted into no less a group than the Hall of Famous Missourians, which was created by the Missouri state legislature, and whose inductees are chosen by the Speaker of the Missouri House.
But unlike previous inductees, Limbaugh's induction was substantially more subdued...largely because almost no one other than Limbaugh and the Republican majority in Missouri's House of Representatives knew it was happening. CBS St Louis reports that:
Republican Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley selected Limbaugh, a native of Cape Girardeau, for the honor — but he kept the timing of the ceremony more secret than the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan. The public apparently didn’t have a clue as to what was going on.
Tilley possibly was thinking about the public’s safety by attempting to avoid a spectacle for the event after some women’s groups and numerous Democrats called for Limbaugh’s head on a platter for calling a female law student and women’s rights activist, Sandra Fluke, a “slut” over her outspoken support of President Obama’s policy on contraception coverage. Limbaugh eventually apologized, but that only happened according to public reports after sponsors of his radio show started pulling out.
Naturally, the secret nature of the ceremony has some people - specifically, people who aren't fans of Limbaugh's - displeased. Again, from CBS St Louis:
The Democratic minority in Jefferson City is fuming. In a statement released to the media, House Minority Leader Mike Talboy said “House Speaker Steve Tilley today purported to induct misogynistic talk show host Rush Limbaugh III into the Hall of Famous Missourians. Instead of being open to the public as is tradition, the ceremony was conducted in secret in a locked House chamber with only Republican officials and other select people allowed in. The secrecy and exclusion of the public demonstrates that even Republicans are embarrassed at honoring someone who recently called a female college student with whom he disagreed a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute.’[...]
'But the Hall is an entirely unofficial honor and Speaker Tilley has no legal authority to order that the bronze bust of Mr. Limbaugh be granted space in the Capitol Rotunda alongside the busts of previous inductees. House Democrats have asked the Office of Administration, which controls all public areas of the Capitol, to refuse to display the Limbaugh bust, and we are confident that it will not be placed in the Hall of Famous Missourians.”
Talboy's reasoning for why Limbaugh should not be included in the hall boils down to a simple charge - he's too controversial. However, this seems like a bit too much of a picky point. Even if you agree with Talboy's dislike of Limbaugh, the fact is that the Hall isn't called the Hall of Morally Unassailable Missourians. It's called the Hall of Famous Missourians, and there's no doubt at all that Limbaugh is very, very famous. After all, no one but a famous person could get the attention of the Minority Leader of a State Legislature.
And more to the point, if Limbaugh's too controversial, then what does that make his fellow inductee, Jimmy Carter?