Advertisers may be fleeing his radio show, but conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is poised to be added to the Hall of Famous Missourians in the state Capitol.
House Speaker Steven Tilley said this week he decided to honor Limbaugh months ago, long before the most recent controversy. The Republican lawmaker and Limbaugh, who was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., are both from the state's southeastern corner.
Inductees are chosen by the speaker of the Missouri House and the bronze busts are paid for by the Speaker’s Annual Golf Classic.
Limbaugh's show has lost nine advertisers -- including AOL, mortgage lender Quicken Loans and florist ProFlowers -- since he referred last week to a female law student involved in the national debate about insurance coverage for contraception as a "slut" and "prostitute." Limbaugh has since apologized to Sandra Fluke.
"I do not think she was either of those two words," Limbaugh said on his radio show. Fluke testified last week in support of a requirement that health care companies, even those affiliated with religious institutions, provide coverage for contraception. She later dismissed Limbaugh’s apology, saying it changed nothing.
The advocacy organization Progress Missouri has already launched a petition protesting the choice of Limbaugh for the hall and calling on Tilley to reverse his decision.
The speaker is defending his choice, saying Limbaugh is among the world's best-known radio personalities.
According to the Kansas City Star, Tilley said Monday that the ceremony will go on as planned and that he is “honored” to have chosen Limbaugh to be included in the hall alongside Missourians such as Harry Truman, Mark Twain, Walter Cronkite and George Washington Carver.
“It’s not the ‘Hall of Universally Loved Missourians,’ ” Tilley told the paper. “It’s the 'Hall of Famous Missourians.'”
According to the Star, Tilley pointed to other current hall members -- including Mark Twain -- who also had a history of making controversial comments.
On Monday, Limbaugh told listeners on his radio show that while he was sorry to see some advertisers go, "they have profited handsomely from you."
The paper said Limbaugh’s bust is being made by Kansas City sculptor E. Spencer Schubert, who is also working on the bust of another Missourian being inducted into the hall this year — Dred Scott, the African-American slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom in 1857.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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