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RUSH: Bob Tyrrell, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. who writes The Continuing Crisis column at American Spectator, it’s his magazine, just came up with a whole new way to describe Begala, The Skull, not The Forehead, The Skull, so emaciated that he needs so much makeup before he goes on TV that you can’t tell whether he’s laughing or frowning. So it just really dices up Paul Begala. Begala was on Anderson Cooper 180 last night and Cooper said, ‘Are you working with Carville, perhaps Emanuel, others in the White House, as part of a concerted effort to target Limbaugh?’

BEGALA: I don’t know what you mean by concerted effort. I guess the short answer is, no, I do what I do, James. I’m — he and I agree. My best friend. I’ve been — we’ve been in business, informally at least, or formally, for 25 years.

RUSH: He doesn’t know. Depends on how you define ‘concerted.’ Now, The Politico said that it’s happening. By the way, Stephanopoulos denies that there are conference calls every morning, or even any morning. He says there’s never been a conference call with him, Begala, Carville, or the ballerina, Rahm Emanuel. So Anderson Cooper said, ‘More people didn’t like Rush Limbaugh than Reverend Wright in your poll. You guys put out that Reverend Wright’s positives are higher than Rush Limbaugh.’

BEGALA: In fairness to the data, a whole lot fewer people knew who Reverend Wright was. A lot more people liked Limbaugh as well as disliked him. So — so, you know, it probably averaged out where the net might have even been better for Rush, but the negative rating, that is the disapproval of Limbaugh, was 58.

RUSH: Well, it sounds like their polling data, might have shared this with the ballerina and was the reason they came up with the White House strategery to focus on me. So they put out the original data — remember the original news story went out that my favorabilities were lower than Reverend Wrights’. Well, how about this now. ‘We must admit a lot fewer people ever heard of Reverend Wright.’ I wonder why that is? I wonder why so few people have heard of Reverend Wright. Could it be because the Drive-By Media, the butt boy media just swept aside any reference? You gotta let me use it once a day before you criticize me. They swept aside any reference in the media of the Reverend Wright. And then Paul Begala here says, ‘Might have even been better for Rush.’ Well, of course I’m going to have higher numbers than Reverend Wright. Anyway, next question from Anderson Cooper. ‘Clearly you’re talking to Rahm Emanuel every day on the phone, and this lightbulb’s gone off in your head, and James Carville said, ‘I find it hard to believe you don’t say to Rahm Emanuel, ‘guess what, look at our poll numbers on Limbaugh.”’

BEGALA: I don’t know. I don’t keep careful notes of these things. My view is I keep private conversations private, Anderson, and that’s part of — of what I do to try to figure out what’s going on in the world. But also, I mean, I — I talk to my friends about any number of things. But here’s the secret: I don’t like Rush Limbaugh. Here’s the other secret: He is the most powerful person in the Republican Party today, bar none.

RUSH: Paul Begala, The Skull, does not know if he discussed me with Rahm Emanuel. He didn’t take notes, private conversations. Anderson, what you need to ask these guys, ‘You work for us, you work for CNN. I know as commentators and so forth, but are you participating in a White House strategy targeting a political opponent?’ Me. Let’s go Carville. Wolf Blitzer talking to Carville last night on The Situation Room, they had this exchange about me.

BLITZER: Is this all a conspiracy, James? You, Paul Begala, Rahm Emanuel, to create this whole Rush Limbaugh situation?

CARVILLE: Well, I think that — that honestly I want to — I don’t want to take credit away from — from the great Rush Limbaugh who — who did it on January the 16th when he said he wanted to — the president’s policies to fail, and that’s what started the whole thing, so I don’t — don’t give Paul and I or Rahm credit where it’s really due to the great Rush Limbaugh. He — he’s the one that really started all this, so my hat’s off to you, Rush.

RUSH: So Blitzer said, ‘They’re also saying that way back during the campaign in October, you, among others, were putting Limbaugh in polling questions to try to test if this would be a good strategy to pit the Democrats against him, if you will.

CARVILLE: We’ve put Rush Limbaugh in our polls for a long time. He’s been unpopular in every one. In fact, we’re in the field right now with a poll with Rush Limbaugh, and we’ll be releasing those results, I don’t know what they are, maybe he’s gotten more popular, but we’ll find out. You know — I don’t know if it’s a plot, a conspiracy, or what, but we poll all the time, and none of this would have happened without — without Rush being the one that started it all by saying that he wanted the president’s policies to fail.

RUSH: Yeah, right, it started back in the nineties with Clinton, the same bunch of people. Dick Morris was on with O’Reilly last night, and O’Reilly, ‘What about this effort to link the Republican Party to Limbaugh and the White House taking out this attack? What do you think about this, Dick?’

MORRIS: Carville, Emanuel, and Stephanopoulos have a mind meld.

COOPER: Okay. But is it smart —

MORRIS: It’s a smart strategy. I did the same thing when I worked for Clinton. I didn’t like running against Bob Dole ’cause he was a decent guy. And we didn’t have anything to say about Jack Kemp, his running mate, so we made Newt Gingrich his running mate, and we said vote against the Dole-Gingrich proposal and we basically put Gingrich on the ballot even though he wasn’t because back then a lot of people didn’t like him.

RUSH: So it’s the mind meld, it’s the strategy. I don’t know why Carville or Begala wouldn’t just man up and take credit for it. I don’t know why they won’t. Politico had the story, Jonathan Martin. These guys are hanging behind, they didn’t take notes in the phone call, private phone calls here. I’ll tell you why they’re not manning up and taking it. I can tell you why Carville is not saying, (doing Carville impression) ‘Yeah, yeah, we did it, I did it between bites of gumbo, that’s how I did it. What do you mean? I’ll be glad to take credit. Rush Limbaugh, great Rush Limbaugh. Hell, he started all this.’ The reason that they’re not willing to take credit for it yet is ’cause they don’t know if it’s going to work. They don’t know. They’re not confident it’s gonna work. They’re polling me again now. ‘Hell, I don’t know, he may be more popular, I don’t know. I don’t know what the results are. We’ll have ’em soon.’ That’s why they’re not manning up, Mr. Snerdley, ’cause they don’t know yet whether this has worked.

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