ABC News' Stu Schutzman reports:
Rush Limbaugh's hold on the Republican party may have been further validated this week at the expense of yet another GOP victim.
Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt (Tee-hart), described on the editorial pages of the Kansas City Star as a "feisty and ardent conservative," is the latest to put his political foot in his mouth. When asked recently by the Star Editorial board if Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the Republican party, Tiahrt answered: "No, no, he's just an entertainer."
Wrong answer, Mr. congressman. The question was based on earlier comments by the Republican Party Chairman, Michael Steele who referred to Limbaugh as "an entertainer."
"Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it is incendiary," said Steele. "Yes, it is ugly."
Tiahrt is vying for a Senate seat and the ensuing online backlash caused the Congressman to back off quickly. "Todd Tiahrt Now Apologizes To The Great And Powerful Rush" read Current.com’s headline.
His office fired off a mea culpa via the Wichita Eagle: "The Congressman believes Rush is a great leader of the conservative movement in America," it said. "...Nothing the Congressman said diminished the role Rush has played and continues to play in the in the conservative movement."
Whew! And then there was Georgia Congressman, Phil Gingrey, who had the audacity to accuse Limbaugh and others of "throw(ing) bricks" but offering no "real leadership." Gingrey too was swamped with criticism and went so far as to go on Rush's radio show and eat enough crow to burst.
"Rush thank you so much," he said. "...Mainly I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made...I regret those stupid comments."
Democrats have wasted little time pouncing, sharing these mea culpas on a website, www.dccc.org/content/sorry.
"Ever wonder how Republicans are able to tuck their tail between their legs and apologize to Rush Limbaugh so quickly after they've offended their leader?"
"Dear Rush, I"m sorry I called you -- (fill in the blank)..."
"What I meant to say is..fill in the blank)." The message to Republicans of any stripe, especially those in heated campaigns is "don't mess with Rush", when it comes to Rush, "proceed with caution." Getting on Rush's bad side, even for the most republican of Republicans...can be a career ender.