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Saying something idiotic is a daily occupation for Rush Limbaugh, as I note in my book about him, but today he outdid himself. Limbaugh spouted a particularly bizarre conspiracy theory, claiming that the Obama Administration had created a fake twitter account in order to pretend that people supported a cut in the payroll tax. The only problem was that the twitter account is a real small businesswoman, and Limbaugh's reasoning for why it must be fake (that self-employed people don't get a payroll tax cut) was completely wrong.

Limbaugh's parade of error began this morning when the Obama Administration urged people to tweet messages about what a $40 payroll tax cut would mean to them. One reply was from a twitter account named Scarebaby: "$40 a month means I can pay my Internet bill and keep my tiny small business alive."

Limbaugh seized upon this statement as proof of a fraud:

it's BS. Nobody actually sent that. That's a White House-generated response. And do you know how I know?...ScareBaby cannot possibly have a small business and get this payroll tax cut. The self-employed don't get it. If you are self-employed, you know it. This doesn't even apply to you. There is no payroll tax cut for the self-employed.
The only problem with Limbaugh's conspiracy theory is that it's based a completely false presumption. As Money Magazine points out, “The extension also applies to self-employed individuals.” Self-employed people pay both the employee and the employer payroll taxes, so naturally they would receive the Obama tax cut for employees.

Yet Limbaugh declared, “this is obviously not a real person. This is somebody in the White House getting this Tweet ball rolling.”

Scarebaby had a message for Rush, and she tweeted, “rushlimbaugh do your homework before you accuse someone of not existing. A simple google search would find that I am a real businessperson.” Scarebaby, who does T-shirt designs (including pro-Obama designs), is indeed very real. Yet Limbaugh returned to her again later in the show, repeating his lie that Scarebaby was the secret identity of a White House employee and claiming falsely once again about the payroll tax cut, “No self-employed person gets the payroll tax cut. You gotta be an employee.”

One tweeted, “We all know you are a White House plant.” Another responded, “a WH plant has more brains than this moron of a fraud.” A third tweeted, “Hey @scarebaby, try not making an idiot of yourself. Rush speaks truth, never slime.” Another wrote, “Like #Rush said she wudn't qualify 4 PR cuts as biz owner. And Obama followers r stupid anyway.” Another tweeted, “No Scarebaby, you have been outed. Marxist scumbag/useful idiot. How much does the dictator pay you to post such drivel?”

I emailed the contact email for Scarebaby on her website. She responded and identified herself as Holly Hertzel:

Yes, I am a real person. I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I own a number of shops on the internet, including one called Scarebaby Design (www.scarebaby.com). These shops are my only source of income. I am not, and never have been, a White House employee, an Obama employee, nor an employee of any organization that works for the Democratic Party.
I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say to Limbaugh. She responded,
I would appreciate a public apology and retraction from him, as his comments have not only caused me personal anguish (being called a fraud, a liar and worse, on Twitter), but may have been injurious to my business and livelihood. I understand that he's just an entertainer, but his followers who spread his falsehoods seem not to know the difference between entertainment and fact.
Of course, Rush Limbaugh isn't just an entertainer. He's one of the leading sources of information for conservatives, with an audience of gullible millions. When a man with that much influence on the right is repeatedly willing to falsely smear a small businesswoman in order to promote a crazy conspiracy theory, it shows just how moronic the conservative movement has become.

Crossposted at LimbaughBook.

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