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Rush in rehab

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Rush Limbaugh admitted at the end of his program today that he is addicted to pain medication and is checking himself into rehab for the next 30 days (on my blog I’ve pulled together some of the coverage).

“You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life. So I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication.

“I first started taking prescription painkillers some years ago when my doctor prescribed them to treat post surgical pain following spinal surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck due to herniated discs. I am still experiencing that pain. Rather than opt for additional surgery for these conditions, I chose to treat the pain with prescribed medication. This medication turned out to be highly addictive.

“Over the past several years I have tried to break my dependence on pain pills and, in fact, twice checked myself into medical facilities in an attempt to do so. I have recently agreed with my physician about the next steps.

“Immediately following this broadcast, I am checking myself into a treatment center for the next 30 days to once and for all break the hold this highly addictive medication has on me. The show will continue during this time, of course, with an array of guest hosts you have come to know and respect.

“I am not making any excuses. You know, over the years athletes and celebrities have emerged from treatment centers to great fanfare and praise for conquering great demons. They are said to be great role models and examples for others. Well, I am no role model. I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes. They are the role models. I am no victim and do not portray myself as such. I take full responsibility for my problem.

“At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation, and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete. So I will only say that the stories you have read and heard contain inaccuracies and distortions, which I will clear up when I am free to speak about them.

“I deeply appreciate all your support over this last tumultuous week. It has sustained me. I ask now for your prayers. I look forward to resuming our excursion into broadcast excellence together.”

For audio/video clip(s) of Rush Limbaugh’s on-air statement, please go to www.rushlimbaugh.com and/or www.premieretalk.com.

While it is nice that Rush proclaims he is not a victim or a role model, he forgets to admit he is a hypocrit who has not been compassionate towards drug addicts in the past or called them role models. William Greider wrote about how the WSJ had more compassion for Rush than drug addicts who aren’t conservative.

From a column by Ellis Henican:

In Shadow of His Own Words

“Let’s all admit something.”

Rush Limbaugh was on his usual tear.

“There’s nothing good about drug use,” he was saying. “We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”

And this includes zillionaire radio hosts? Hmmm …

When you have a talk-radio show 15 hours a week, you have an awful lot of air to fill. On this particular day, which was Oct. 5, 1995, Rush was roaring about the scourge of illegal drug use.

Even though blacks and whites break the drug laws in roughly equal percentages, he noted, black druggies go to prison far more often than white druggies do. But to the liberal-bashing host, this was no reason to ease up on blacks.

“What this says to me,” he told his listeners that day, “is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we’re not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too.”

Including zillionaire radio hosts? Well, maybe not…

Another public moralist had been caught in a personal jam. And Rush’s words were coming back to haunt him.

The constant digs at Bill Clinton not inhaling.

The heartless shrug when Jerry Garcia died.

“‘When you strip it all away,” Rush had said of the Grateful Dead guitarist, “Jerry Garcia destroyed his life on drugs. And yet he’s being honored, like some godlike figure. Our priorities are out of whack, folks.”

Rush Limbaugh isn’t the first prominent finger-pointer to eat his own words. It wasn’t so long ago that Bill Bennett was explaining how an anti-vice crusader could also be a degenerate gambler.

And Jeb Bush, the president’s brother and Rush’s governor, was pleading for leniency and privacy when his daughter got arrested for drugs. Yet he’d been happily sending other Florida youngsters to long prison terms for similar crimes.


But there in the dusty Limbaugh archives one glimmer of sanity did appear yesterday.

It came from 1998, just about the time Wilma Cline’s black-market drug ring was revving up. Rush was on the radio. He was talking about America’s “half-baked” war on drugs. We might all be better off, he said quite plainly, if drugs were legalized – and then regulated like cigarettes.

“What is missing in the drug fight,” he said, “is legalization. If we want to go after drugs with the same fervor and intensity with which we go after cigarettes, let’s legalize drugs. Legalize the manufacture of drugs. License the Cali cartel. Make them taxpayers and then sue them. Sue them left and right and then get control of the price and generate tax revenue from it. Raise the price sky high and fund all sorts of other wonderful social programs.”

Was he serious? I’m not sure.

But the timing is interesting, you’d have to say. And I’ll bet he quotes those words again.

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About Steve Rhodes

  • I certainly will pray for the man.

  • Andy

    Natalie, while I disagree on a lot of your views, I must tell you that I admire you for your genuine love for all man-kind. It is a constant challenge to my own faith!

  • That’s a nice sentiment, ND, echoed here.

  • Eric Olsen

    Maybe Rush will come out of this a somewhat changed person – certainly there will no longer be any justification ofr the arrogance, which he has always half played for laughs, but only half. Now he will have to argue his positions based upon logic, not simply because he says so.

    Obviously he was backed into a corner, but at least he did choose to own up to this.

  • Bleeargh

    I have listened to Rush for over 6 or 7 years and have never heard him say something dispareging about addicts. Strong disdain for drug use and its concequences has nothing to do with disrespecting the individuals who get hooked, conversly it comes from a standpoint of knowing that the process (the drug market and all that goes along)is disgusting. My own brother has grown weed and distributed it, I would have no remorse for him were he to get arrested however i would visit him every week in jail and pray that he learned his lesson. I think Rush surely will be different after this, but I beleave he will conquer this and expect the same of everyone else. I believe he expects the best from society be cause, he expects the best from himself.

    But we all fail.

    God save him, God save us all.

  • Indeed we all fail. But the statements he has made on the issue are, IMO, inexcusable. Of course, I vehemently disagree with Limbaugh on the legalization issue and with the harsh statements for which he is infamous. I would not want to see him prosecuted for what he has done, but if law enforcement were to follow Rush’s past advice, then he would be in jail.

    Free Tommy Chong! Safe and speedy recovery, Rush Limbaugh.

  • hard to say. rush ranted in favor of legalization in 98 (according to one report–i forget which)–perhaps the timing itself was suspicious.

    he should get whatever the standard punishment is (which i suspect would not involve prison time under these circumstances, based on what little i know at present), although what are the chances of that?

    personally, i prefer decriminalization to legalization, but i am a semantical fool…

  • Bleeargh

    I heard the rant in ’98 live and remember it. It was with tounge firmly in cheek, as with so much of his program. He was using it to make a point about the anti-tabacco movement, of which so many pro-drug or pro legalization people jumped on the bandwagon when there was billions of dollars to be got from “BIG” tobacco.

  • Dan

    Lets see, Liberals are the compassionate ones, right? The gleeful characterization of Rush as a hypocrite in this instance isn’t substanative. I don’t think Rush would have been overly critical of someone illegally obtaining drugs to treat intolerable pain in the same way he was critical of someone trafficking in crack cocaine. Personally, I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with drugs for pain or fun, but I understand the thinking of those who do. And if you don’t see the difference, well… you don’t want to.
    Also the jab at Bill Bennett is hysterically overblown by the liberal media too. Bill Bennett is not a degenerate gambler. A degenerate gambler is someone who gambles until the money’s gone. Bennett still has most of his marbles as well as his character intact. His losses were well within the range he, and many others as well heeled as he, can afford. Most people don’t understand the Casino game. Whales like him would get 40% of their losses in comps. Jewelry, cars, fine dining, and all of it reported on his 1040. Also, being Catholic, There was no inconsistency with his convictions. So, no degenerate gambling, no religous hypocrisy, just another hateful liberal lynch job.
    Natalie: you’re cool. sincerely.

  • Ellen Dyke

    We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. How can we take the plank out of our own eyes while we are so busy taking the speck out of others? Yes, we should pray for Rush, others and ourselves. The good news is we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Which is nothing we can do on our own, it is all the work of our Lord and Savior.

  • BJK

    1) Where were all of you “we all fail” apologists when Bill Clinton was getting a blow job?
    2) We all may fail, but Rush Limbaugh has made millions by judging the failures of others who are also human–all in the name of personal and political gain;
    3) The humble and contrite Rush Limbaugh you heard today was not cleansing his soul, but was going into rehab before the Feds could charge him with a laundry list of drug offenses;
    4) Blessed are the merciful for they shall find mercy–Rush Limbaugh was the most merciless, conniving lying bastard who ever walked this earth;
    5) May he rot in jail and then rot in Hell–that is, if Hell will even have him!

  • BJK, I think you go too far, but Ellen, I agree with every single thing you said, but consider the hypocrisy of a man who judges others but asks for mercy for himself. God is gracious and will grant him mercy.

    The rest of us, well, we’re liable to show him the mercy he has shown others in the same situation. You know, the ones he said ought to be prosecuted more severely.

  • BJK


    Thank you for making my point!

    The same self-righteous, right-wing, Conservative Republicans who blame drug addicts for lacking even a shred of “personal responsibility” are now bowing their heads and “praying for poor, poor Rush Limbaugh.”

    It’s “commendable” and “upstanding” when a millionaire asks for sympathy when he jets away to a posh rehab/spa in Arizona. But a common street addict? “Put him in jail and throw away the key!”

    The difference? One can well afford the best D&A treatment money can buy. The other cannot and must rely on us to help him. He must rely on our compassion and our willingness to sacrifice for the greater common good.

    Newt Gingrich the serial adulterer, Trent Lott the racist, Rick Santorum the phony patron saint of family values, Henry Hyde, Clarence Thomas, Ollie North and all the other hypocritical assholes who spew their hate and peddle their holier-than-thou politics of personal destruction deserve to reap what they have sown.

  • debbie

    “1) Where were all of you “we all fail” apologists when Bill Clinton was getting a blow job?”

    It wasn’t so much the blow job as it was the constant lying, the lying under oath, trying to get someone else to lie under oath. It was the deliberate smear tactics that he used against the people that were actually telling the truth, the way that he viciously tried to destroy their lives. (Even tho they were the ones telling the truth and he was the one lying, he was using the power of his office to destroy them) It was the constant thumbing his nose at the law when he held the highest office in the country.

    “2) We all may fail, but Rush Limbaugh has made millions by judging the failures of others who are also human–all in the name of personal and political gain;”

    His main contention with Clinton was the lengths that he would go to to discredit and destroy the lives of the people that spoke out against him.

    “3) The humble and contrite Rush Limbaugh you heard today was not cleansing his soul, but was going into rehab before the Feds could charge him with a laundry list of drug offenses;”

    Do you even listen to his show? He is actually a humble person, (I know he jokes about the 1/2 brain tied behind his back, but it is a joke) His being a “man” and admitting it has nothing to do the Feds being able to charge him. The Feds can still charge him with a crime if they decide that they have enough evidence. He could have played “Clinton” and denied it until there was proof positive and then say it was a vast left wing conspirosy, saying that it depended on what the definition of is, is. But he didn’t.

    I am as anti drug as a person can get. I don’t have much use for the person looking to get high, but I have to tell you that I also had a herniated disc in my lower back and had surgery. I went through a 2 to 2 1/2 month period of intense nerve pain that ran down the length of my leg. It was a constant feeling of electrical burning that ran down my right leg. I can remember being so depressed, so worn down by the pain, that I honestly decided that if I had to live the rest of my life in that kind of pain I would rather die. My situation did get better, as the swelling went down I no longer have constant pain. The closest I can describe nerve pain is a toothache or an earache. The pain is intense, and most medications won’t touch it. I hope that he is able to overcome this addiction.

    “4) Blessed are the merciful for they shall find mercy–Rush Limbaugh was the most merciless, conniving lying bastard who ever walked this earth;”

    I’ve heard his show about 50 times, I’ve never found him in a lie before but I haven’t been a regular listener. I don’t see him as the anti-christ that you seem to see him as. I might not agree with everything he says but come on I think you are being just a bit hysterical…..

    “5) May he rot in jail and then rot in Hell–that is, if Hell will even have him!”

    Oh, this must be the part that proves you to be a “compassionate democrat”… NOT! What a joke!

  • Salon:

    It’s impossible not to feel for someone forced into such a public, and humiliating, confession. But it’s equally impossible not to consider his own record of spouting off against other people with drug problems. Below are some examples [as discovered by, among others, the blogger Atrios] from his now-defunct TV show, transcripts of which are easily attainable — as opposed to the thousands of hours of his radio show, beamed to millions daily for the past 15 years.

    On Sept. 23, 1993: “If there’s a line of cocaine here, I have to make the choice to go down and sniff it … If there were a gun here, it wouldn’t fire itself. I’ve got to reach for it and pull the trigger … we are rationalizing all this irresponsibility and all the choices people are making and we’re blaming not them, but society for it. All these Hollywood celebrities say the reason they’re weird and bizarre is because they were abused by their parents. So we’re going to pay for that kind of rehab, too, and we shouldn’t. It’s not our responsibility.”

    Jan. 15, 1996: “… there were a couple of drug convictions out in — I think it was a Colorado court. And these guys had — had done some really bad stuff, and there were mandated federal sentences for the crimes they had committed. And the judge apologized to the criminals while sentencing them because he thought it was too severe. He apologized and the community was outraged. So we’ve gone from a judge sentencing a mother who makes her child beg six months in jail, to judges apologizing for getting dope dealers and crack dealers and drug salesmen off the streets with too severe a sentence.”

    Dec. 16, 1994: “So we’re not going to get on — we don’t fault these animals for a lack of discipline, but we get on human beings who are fat for lack of discipline and you know it and I know it. But here’s the thing that struck me about this. We have alcoholics and drug addicts in our society, don’t we? And what do we say about them? Well, they can’t help it. Why, it’s genetic. Why, they have a disease. Why, put one thimbleful of scotch in front of them and they can die.’ We totally exempt them from any control over their lives, do we not? Some athlete will spend two years snorting lines of coke. ‘He can’t help it.’ You know, it’s — it’s just — it’s not — it’s — it’s genetic. These people — they’re predisposed to having this addictive syndrome. They — they can’t help — yeah, like that line of cocaine just happened to march into the hotel, go up to the athlete’s room and put itself right there in front of him on his blotter.”

  • For those who listen to Rush know that he’s a great linguist and tow’s the party line with glee. He is a big cynic and articulates the anti-democrat with perfection. First, he needs to come out of this in one piece and then he needs to get back to work and keep busy so he can beat it. Like him or not I think Rush had alot of guts to take responsibility for his actions in the public eye. I think we’re seeing a trend in that which is refreshing. God Bless him and his family.

  • mike

    I say let’s be sympathetic to Rush, AFTER every petty drug offender rotting in jail because of Republican drug policies is freed or allowed to seek rehab.

  • the “war on drugs” is a bipartisan disaster. you keep giving the dems a pass and you decrease the chances that some common sense might prevail.

  • BJK

    Debbie, my apologies for speaking badly about Saint Rush of Holy Hypocrisy. I forgot about all of his saintly acts of mercy and compassion for minimum-wage workers and his devotion to the Truth According to the Gospel of Greed!

    You people bend over backwards to shed a tear for this lying, drug addict felon because you’ve bought into his message of hate hook, line, and sinker. Boo hoo! Poor Rush! The PAIN made him do it! What will we do now that Saint Rush of Holy Hipocrisy is going to jail? Who will tell us what to think? Who will protect us and make us feel self-righteous and smug?

    Boo hoo hoo! It’s ALL Clinton’s fault!!

  • I do hope that Rush sees the light and realized that the misbegotten “war on drugs” must end. I have little hope that the idea will spread to politicians, though. While it would be right to end the war, it wouldn’t be politically expedient, and so Dems and Reps alike will go on and on and on about the children and people will go on and on and on rotting in jail for stupid charges.


    If Rush doesn’t come out against the drug war after all of this, he’s cooked. If he does, he might still be cooked. Hypocrisy is a dangerous thing. Ask Newt Gingrich.

  • Eric Olsen

    The drug war must end.

    Rush is a hypocrite, there is no way around it.

    He can redeem himself, but only by drastically changing his approach, which may render him much less popular with his crowd, which responds to the black and white certainty and grandiose hubris. It’s a difficult situation for him, but one of his own making.

    On a personal level I wish him well and hope he can overcome his addiction – addiction is insidious and ugly and no one can assume themselves to be impervious – but I hope he also takes the honorable route and redefines his persona to reflect this experience.

  • JR

    Debbie: “His being a ‘man’ and admitting it has nothing to do the Feds being able to charge him.”

    Now there is an astonishingly naive statement.

  • Wow! How credulous can people be? Limbaugh cottoned to the need to confess:

    1) After he was on the receiving end of evidence he can’t refute;

    2) After apparent years of addiction, and

    3) After losing his hearing to likely abuse of those drugs.

    What he is engaged in now is damage control, not bravery. Wake up, Ralph and Deb!

  • Taloran

    In a meanspirited way, it would be fun to be a fly on the wall of the prison block when Rush is introduced to a bunch of weightlifters who are incarcerated partially because of his blind, unwavering, pig-headed rhetoric and espousal of party propaganda.
    I think it would be very fitting for him to suffer the full force of prosecution of the drug laws for which he has vehemently argued. Maximum penalties for an unwavering, black-and-white-no-grey guy. He has no sympathy for others in similar situations, let him do the time having done the crime.

    In a less meanspirited way, I wish anyone who has suffered addiction both understanding and a timely recovery.

  • DP

    Eric: I agree the drug war should end. But that’s about all I agree with from comment #21. Only hate blinded liberals (BJK) would equate an addiction born of physical pain with the kind of parasitic, selfish, destructive drug behaviour Rush goes on about. I’m Sorry that you, who I respect, can’t see that. Take a look at Brians’ post #15. Do you see anything in those comments about dealing with physical pain?
    Rush won’t have to redeem himself. I hope Rush does change his perspective a little. If anything, this incident has provided strong evidence for the case to decriminalize. Here’s a guy who’s been hooked for five years and functioned just fine. I wouldn’t call his addiction insidious or ugly at all.
    Also I think you might have short-changed his “crowd” a little. Most seem to be open minded people who realize they’re only getting half the story from the biased liberal media. I think they’ll be forgiving.
    One more thing: If I ever hear any arguments for decriminalization they’re almost invariably from conservatives, or libertarians. Liberals do talk about softening punishment, which is good, but I think they need to keep drugs illegal so they can blame the irresponsible behaviour of their people on them.

  • Eric Olsen

    DP, I appreciate your respect – thank you. I think what you are seeing differently here is that while his drug use may have begun legitimately – it often does – but the insidious part is that the use hangs on, becomes a part of a person’s life, and may take over that person’s life. Rush had the advantage of plenty of cash to fund his dependency – he didn’t have to turn to crime – but I think you are down-playing its effect on him – it may have caused his hearing loss. I fail to see how his addiction is any more admirable or qualitatively different from the drug use he rails about. It’s kind of a Roy Cohn-ish type situation as I see it.

    Of course I simplified his audience – it is much more varied than “dittoheads” – but it is the dittoheads who are his core audience, upon which the empire is built, and they do seem to take him as pretty close to the fount of all wisdom. I sense some serious cognitive dissonanace in dittohead land until they get their cue from Rush how to assimilate this blockbuster.

    Rush is talented, smart, spirited, funny, if also pompous and self-righteous. He can come out of this fine if he uses it to become a more empathetic, compassionate, and humble person – otherwise the hypocrite label will his scarlet letter.

  • DP

    Eric, actually he did turn to crime, at least allegedly. And if the drug caused his ears to be blown out, then that was a self-destructive “insidious” effect of addiction. I don’t really feel comfortable defending the man, but I stand by my assertion that his drug abuse is not the type of societal detrimental drug abuse he railed against.

  • Hmmm. Do suffering patients who use marijuana to ease their ills get the same pass as Rush appears to be getting so far? Nope. Is what they do insidious? I think not.

  • Barney

    Rush is a lying, cowardly, pill-popping racist twit and I’m not going to listen to him anymore. He’s let me and all his listeners down. It’s time to find another voice. He’s had it. I don’t want to hear his excuses. He’s in rehab because he got caught. Otherwise, he’d be back at his mansion sucking down scotch and oxycontin. To hell with him. He’s like the guy in “Face in the Crowd,” getting rich on preaching abstinence and damnation, while he’s backstage licking Vicodin powder off his sleeve.

  • DP

    Natalie, actually I think most chemo-therapy patients who smoke pot do get a pass. It’s a fairly common practice. I don’t think most prosecutors, who are elected officials, care to expose themselves to the public wrath it would inspire, even if they are hard hearted. Of course there are some ass-cops who will roust them and take their baggie away.

    The only insidious effect of Rushs’ drug abuse I acknowledged was if it caused him to lose his hearing. That’s just an allegation. I remember hearing about some natural cause for this, some sort of disease or something. Otherwise, he appeared to function splendidly- the radio show, speaking engagements, and his stint on ESPN before liberal fascist oppressors moved quickly to silence him for having a simple reasoned, but forbidden, opinion. A strong case, I think, for decriminalization.

    You know, I’m not a big Rush fan or apoligist, I listen occaisonally and generally agree with his arguments as he presents them, but I get political overload from him. What I find amusing here is the hate he inspires from people who are too arrogant to acknowledge they are hateful (not you Natalie). It tickles me to read something like: He should have his eyes gouged out as he’s gang raped in prison, but I pray for his recovery and world peace.

  • In truth, DP, many patients are arrested and jailed for seeking relief. About a year ago, there was a huge row in California over DEA agents rounding up folks in wheelchairs and such. I am pro-legalization in every sense, but particularly when it comes to medical-marijuana patients. There are some law-enforcement types who will look the other way (goddess bless ’em), but the federal government is zealous in enforcing its war on (some) drugs and a plant, no matter who gets hurt.

    I recently finished reading a book called Prescription Pot, which focuses on George McMahon, one of the seven remaining legal medical-marijuana users in the nation. As I’ve been doing a ton of writing over the past couple days, I am waiting for motivation to strike, but the moment it does, I will post a review. His story — which includes anecdotes about the ill treatment he still receives from law-enforcement officials despite the fact that he gets his pot rations from the feds — is one that should be heard.

  • Eric Olsen

    Perhaps the best good that can come from this is the spotlight on how Rush is treated – 30 days in therapy for now – for a raging criminal addiction lasting five years, and how Tommy Chong is treated – nine months in federal prison – for selling bongs and sundry paraphernalia over the Internet. Skewed much?

  • I wonder how many of the folks on Capitol Hill listen to Rush. Sometimes I suspect quite a few do. Perhaps (I’m ever hopeful) a few freshman Reps will wise up on the ridiculousness of the “war on drugs”. Probably not, and it seems that the folks on Capitol Hill are against decriminalization/legalization regardless of party affiliation, but it would be a start.

  • Ellen Dyke

    It seems to me that one of the great flaws in human reasoning is that we tend to categorize people. Label them right-wing, liberal, Democratic, Republican, fundamentalist, etc. One or two stated opinions and people assume to know you. Has there ever been a public figure that hasn’t been fit into a box by what he/she says or does? What about walk a mile in someone’s shoes to know them? Has there ever been a public figure that hasn’t fallen under the “wanting to see fail” scrutiny of so many who purport to know better or have the right answer? I want to view people with compassion (how does that label me?) and be open to the fact that I could be wrong in my opinions. I do appreciate the variety of views out there, but feel sorry for those who are so willing to viciously attack when they haven’t looked at how ugly they are themselves.

  • Ah yes, the “I’ll worry about the log in my own eye” theory. A wise one, that.

  • Kevin Martin


  • The Theory

    i am more interested in seeing your caps lock key un-pressed.

  • MCH

    “If Rush doesn’t come out against the drug war after all of this, he’s cooked. If he does, he might still be cooked. Hypocrisy is a dangerous thing. Ask Newt Gingrich.”
    – Phillip Winne, #20, Oct. 11, 2003

    Escaping the frying pan, Lardbaugh is more hypocritical than ever, as his fortune continues to grow, almost three years later…