This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Rush Limbaugh joins us live. Rush, nice to have you join us, and it's certainly nice to have it because it's unexpected. Tell me what your thoughts are on California.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST (Via telephone): Well, I wanted to -- you know, I saw that you very kindly played some sterling video from my program today, and I saw your follow-up discussion with Steve Moore. And I didn't want to leave anybody confused. I agree totally with what Steve said, that this was the equivalent of a political nuclear blast that happened in California. My only point is, is that without a viable Republican Party that's willing to take up what happened out there and advance as a key agenda of their platform the concept of cutting taxes and reducing as much of this debt as possible, it may as well not have happened.
I mean, you can be -- and Republican Party today is led by people who think that the tax cut item idea as part of their agenda has seen its better days, it's old-fashioned, it's not relevant anymore, just like they don't think Reagan is relevant. People say the era of Reagan is over.
So you have these people in California -- and Steve Moore is right. All over the country, people are scared. They are fed up. They are outraged not just over the spending but over the federal government taking over privately owned businesses unconstitutionally with nobody stopping them. Everybody is saying, When am I going to be next? When's Obama going to decide that he doesn't like what I'm doing and take it over? And they don't see anybody standing up and opposing this. They don't see Republican Party standing up and stopping it.
So my only point is that when you live in a high-tech state like New York or California, you can move to another state that maybe has more favorable living conditions and tax policy. But you can't escape, you can't get away from the long hand of the federal government.
And federalism is key premise of our existence. Separation of power is the separation between federal government and the constituents in the states.
And the stimulus package that Obama is telling the states what they have to do to take the money, and they have to take the money. But you can't escape the long arm of the federal government.
So if Obama decides after spending $10 trillion that we don't have, that he wants to bail California out -- what is it, another $21 billion? Big whoop. The way that will happen is that the people in California and the other 49 states will see their federal taxes go up to bailout California despite the vote that happened yesterday.
Now, the only way this can be prevented is if the Republican Party decides, you know what? We have a great issue here in which we can contrast ourselves with the modern-day radicalism of the Democrat Party. But I do not see them doing it. So until the people in California who voted yesterday and elsewhere around the country have people to vote for who will do for them what the voters in California did, it's irrelevant.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what does the Republican Party today stand for. If you were to describe the Republican Party, what is it?
LIMBAUGH: What is the Republican party? Well, the Republican party is a mess right now. I think it's made up of so many different factions, and this happens when parties lose.
But the party traditionally has always been what I call a country club, blue blood, Rockefeller party, and they won anything. I mean, they were happy to be participants in big government and power in Washington, but on the losing side.
When they had 135 or 140 seats in the House of Representative, that was just fine. Republicans are sometimes not even allowed to go into committee meetings. Remember, the Democrats ran the House of Representatives for 40 years.
But, Greta, the big issue here that is keeping the Republican Party from unifying is the blue bloods, the country club types, the northeastern Rockefeller types, never did like Ronald Reagan. They never did like that brand of conservatism, because it contained the element of the social issues, which is translated as abortion.
And the country club blue blooders in the northeast and other parts of the country are embarrassed to be members of the same party as the pro-life southerners, who they think are a bunch of hayseed hicks, and their liberal buddies make fun of them at cocktail parties and give them grief. And their wives nag them about abortion and so forth.
So the modern day party Republican Party, the blue bloods are trying to recapture, and they really want to get rid of the social plank that has ensured victory for the Republican Party. So it is a mess right now.
Then you have the conservative movement, which is also fractured. It is not what it was when Reagan led it or when William Buckley was defining it. The conservative movement -- you have people want to redefine conservatism now, which I don't think you can. Conservativism is rooted in freedom, and I do not know if that ever goes out of style.
But these things happen when people lose, when parties lose. And it's going to take a candidate, a single figure, don't know who it is, that will rise out of all this muck and coalesce people around the issues that contrast with all that Obamism is. And I think once enough people get fed up, this will happen.
Right now we are still waiting for it to happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did the American people go so heavily Democratic? I mean, there was a huge shift in this country. They have got the House, they have got the Senate, and they have the White House. There must have been something attractive that the Democratic Party offered them.
LIMBAUGH: If you look at the last couple of polls that I have seen where the so called generic congressional ballot, where they go and they ask people, "If the election were held today, who would you vote for, for Congress?" Without mention a candidate's name, it's tied, Republicans and Democrats.
And I saw something the other day where as many people today identify themselves as Republicans as identified themselves as Democrats.
You know about the Pew poll, and you guys at Fox even had a poll which shows that a majority of Americans for the first time in a long time are against the pro-choice position. They are pro-life.
So I don't by the fact that people are majority Democrat. I think this last election, you had eight years of media pounding on the Bush administration. the Bush administration not defending itself as forcefully or as often as it should have, not singing its praises, not certainly economically, not talking about the good things.
Plus, you know, the Republicans today are kind of hamstrung, because the Bush administration did the wild in spending. And so Republicans today, they think in Washington if they start talking about reducing spending, they are opening themselves up to charges of hypocrisy.
But Bush never did anything like what's happening with Obama.
Then you add a whole aspect of the cult-like appeal of Obama. And you look at polls of people beginning to not like his policies, but they love him. And this has got Republicans bamboozled, too, because they have got nobody that people love as a personality, and even if they did, the media would go out and destroy that person, or try to.
So what is going to happen here is all of the things that Obama is doing, he's just barely past 100 days, are going to have a dramatic impact on people, so that all that people like me are telling them will actually be happening rather than something they'll just have to believe.
And the Chrysler dealers are a great example of finding out exactly what Barack Obama as president meant to them. I'll bet many of them voted for him. But now he is putting 3,300 of them out of business, many of them successful.
So it's going to take time for this damage to affect as many people personally as possible. You will see them flee the Democrat Party as quickly as they can.
VAN SUSTEREN: If there is no sort of singular Republican leader out there, does the responsibility thus fall on Michael Steele's shoulders because he is head of the Republican National Committee? And what is his challenge, and can he do it?
LIMBAUGH: Well, that is not the job of the RNC chairman. The pressure on Steele is sort of compounded because there isn't, right now, an identifiable, single Republican person candidate that everybody is focusing on as the next hope.
The RNC chairman, the DNC chairman is really not the boss of the party. It is whoever gets the presidential nomination in 2012 that's going to be the leader of the Republican Party. That is just politics. That's the way it is.
And that person, we may know who it is, we may not. The list is large.
But it is going to be bloody, because the Republican Party, as I said, they cringe at people like Sarah Palin. They cringe at the tea parties.
Our own party has blue blood members that look at this California vote yesterday and say, "We are trying to get rid of tax cuts. That's too Reagan. That's too old-fashioned." People want big government.
Colin Powell. He is a guy who says a couple of weeks ago, the Republican Party -- the country wants bigger government, they want to pay more taxes. And then California shows just the opposite.
The Republican Party is made up of a lot of people like Colin Powell who also wanted to vote for Obama but did not, but he did.
So it is fascinating to me to watch all of this and chronicle it, because it's -- I think the opportunity here to literally contrast ourselves --
I think the Democrats are so damn vulnerable, Greta, with what they are doing and destroying individual liberty and prosperity, they are doing great damage to the middle class out there who dreams the American dream. And is getting harder and it's going to be almost impossible to achieve if Obama accomplished everything he wants.
When they figure it out is when the "revolt" or "revolution" will begin.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where does former vice president Dick Cheney sort of fit into this whole formula in terms of the Republican party? Does he help them right now, or hurt them as he speaks out?
LIMBAUGH: Now, that is a great question. This is what you are number one at 10:00.
Dick Cheney gets results. Dick Cheney the past two weeks has been out saying this country is less safe with Obama and his policy. Club Gitmo, fine.
And guess what? Every foreign-policy decision that was the Bush- Cheney foreign policy fundamental war on terror is being adopted by the Obama administration. They are going to keep Guantanamo Bay open. They are not going to release prisoners into this country or prisons here. Dick Cheney gets results.
And you've got Republicans. I saw on your network some hack GOP strategist yesterday afternoon or the day before, saying Dick Cheney is the wrong messenger for our party today, and there are some others who are the wrong messenger.
For crying out loud, he is the only one who is speaking out in opposition to what Obama is doing, and he is getting results.
So I don't think -- you missed the point if you people think Cheney is on the outs and is causing problems. He is getting results, and he is showing the way. He has got courage and guts. God bless him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Rush, as always, thank you very much for joining us.
LIMBAUGH: You bet, Greta. Thank you so much, and I always enjoy being with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I love it, and especially I love being surprised by the call. Thank you, Rush.
LIMBAUGH: You bet.
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