Limbaugh urges treatment for everyone

— An upbeat Rush Limbaugh returned to the air Monday fizzing about how excited and happy he was to be back after a five-week program of intensive drug-rehabilitation therapy.

The conservative talk show host, broadcasting once again over 600 stations, reported that he had left a treatment center in Arizona on Wednesday and spent the time since then "cramming" to catch up with world events. Limbaugh entered the center last month to fight an addiction to painkillers that began, he said, after back surgery.

"What I endured was a wonderful process," he said. "I think what I went through in these past five weeks is as important as first grade and even second grade." He acknowledged that he could not overcome the addiction through "force of will" -- "I tried to detox myself twice."

He was so impressed by the experience that he recommended it for all Americans.

"I wish that everybody could do this," he said. "I don't know why this kind of thing is reserved for certain kinds of situations when it is so beneficial to all."

Limbaugh, 51, did not mention his oft-repeated position that drug addicts should be treated as criminals and did not speak of the Florida investigation into the distribution of black-market medications that caused him to enter treatment.

He did refer to the National Enquirer, the tabloid that first reported his alleged involvement, and he said, "There is something I am not able to be as blunt and open about now as I'd like to be. That day will come, and it will come soon."

The commentator, who said that he felt "reborn," tried to reassure listeners that his stance had not changed.

"Many people feel and think that when you go to a rehabilitation center for addictions, or for other things, the people in there turn you into a linguine-spined liberal. That's not true. ... There is no ideological reference whatsoever in these things."

Pounding his desk and riffling through newspapers, Limbaugh swiped at some familiar nemeses, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Bill and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and also fired a shot across the bow of newly inaugurated Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Speaking of Schwarzenegger's choice for environmental secretary, Terry Tamminen, he said, "So Arnold's gone out and picked a guy from one of the most left-wing wacko environmental groups in California."

Limbaugh, whose show reaches some 600 markets and about 20 million listeners a week, was broadcasting from a studio in Manhattan. The industry trade publication Talkers magazine predicted his audience was probably about three times its normal size for his return.

He remains a polarizing figure. A new Gallup poll conducted earlier this month found that 34 percent of Americans hold a favorable review of Limbaugh, while 51 percent view him unfavorably.

The poll of 1,004 adults, conducted Nov. 10-12, found 35 percent of conservatives now have a negative view of Limbaugh.

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