Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh joined the ranks of a U.S. president, a Missouri governor and a baseball Hall of Famer Monday when a bust of the controversial commentator was put on display in the Missouri Capitol building in Jefferson City.
Limbaugh, who recently set the country aflame by calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her congressional testimony on contraceptives, was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians last week in a guarded, closed-door ceremony.
Limbaugh announced on his radio show Monday that "despite the best efforts of" of the Missouri governor, Democrats and women's advocacy groups, his bust is now on display in the Capitol building.
"The speaker himself has been under assault for wanting to do this," Limbaugh said while being inducted into the Hall of Fame last week. "He hung in. It was tough; he did not give them any quarter, laughed at them when they called his office, which is what you have to do."
Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley has sole discretion over which statues are added to the House side of the Capitol's rotunda. Besides Limbaugh, Tilley has chosen to add former slave Dred Scott and baseball legend Buck O'Neil of the Negro American League.
In light of the recent controversy surrounding Limbaugh's "slut" comments, Tilley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the induction ceremony was closed to the public because it was more "acceptable to do an invitation-only event."
Only Republicans were invited to the ceremony because Democrats, whom Limbaugh called "deranged" in his speech at the event, signed a letter protesting Limbaugh's induction into the Hall of Fame, Tilley told the Kansas City Star.
"He may say things that strike a nerve," Tilley said, according to the Star. "But that doesn't undo everything he's accomplished in his career, and it doesn't provide a reasonable excuse why he shouldn't be honored by his home state for his many accomplishments."
Missouri House Minority Leader Mike Talboy said in a statement that the secret ceremony proved that the state's Republicans were "embarrassed" to induct a "misogynistic talk show host" into the state's Hall of Fame.
"Instead of being open to the public, as is tradition, the ceremony was conducted in secret in a locked House chamber with only Republican officials and other select people allowed in," Talboy said in the statement, according to KPLR-TV in St. Louis. "The secrecy and exclusion of the public demonstrates that even Republicans are embarrassed at honoring someone who recently called a female college student with whom he disagreed a 'slut' and a 'prostitute.'"
The ceremony was closed to the public and Highway Patrol officers stood guard outside the House chamber, the Post-Dispatch reported. The event was announced to the media 26 minutes before the it began, KPLR reported.
A security camera, which was installed specifically for Limbaugh's bust, will provide 24-hour surveillance of the statue, said Trevor Fox, the House's director of communications. Limbaugh's statue, which stands between those of 19th century painter George Bingham and former Missouri Gov. Warren Hearnes, is the only statue in the Missouri House's Hall of Fame that has its own security camera.
Other famous Missourians honored with statues in the Capitol include Walt Disney, Sacajawea and former President Harry Truman.