- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rush Limbaugh’s new pet project — fighting animal cruelty for the Humane Society of the United States — is riling sportsmen from coast to coast, prompting fears that the talkster typically supportive of gun rights is aiding a group they say has a secret agenda to end all hunting in America.

Twenty-eight groups representing millions of hunters and sportsmen are demanding that the conservative radio commentator end his collaboration with the HSUS and stop “helping them to mainstream their image in the minds of reasonable people.”

“Despite a few programs designed to attract support from the general public, HSUS is in fact an organization that opposes hunting, fishing, and trapping,” the groups, including Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, wrote in a letter last week to Mr. Limbaugh.

“Its leadership has a long and established history of promoting legislation, litigation, and referenda to restrict the rights of American sportsmen and women.”

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The public-service radio spots cut by Mr. Limbaugh began airing in mid-April. In one, the self-dubbed “Doctor of Democracy” expresses support for the HSUS effort to crack down on organized dogfighting and other animal-cruelty crimes.

In the second, “America’s Truth Detector” talks about, as the Humane Society says, “our outreach to communities of faith, and the moral obligation that we have to be good stewards of God’s creatures.”

Mr. Limbaugh did not answer requests for comment and has had little to say about his tacit endorsement of the HSUS. In an interview by Greta Van Susteren on Fox News last week, he was asked by the host, “Who do you admire and why?” As Mr. Limbaugh paused, citing “brain freeze,” this exchange occurred:

“You like the Humane Society,” Mrs. Van Susteren said.

“Who?” Mr. Limbaugh asked.

“The Humane Society.”

Laughing, the radio host, who spends three hours a day talking politics, said, “Well, now, you’re getting into politics,” and quickly moved off the topic.

The Humane Society’s president and chief executive, Wayne Pacelle, said the issue shouldn’t be political.

“I’m embarrassed for them that they would criticize Rush for amplifying our message that dogfighting and other malicious forms of animal cruelty are unacceptable in society,” he said.

Countering that his group absolutely does not oppose all hunting, Mr. Pacelle said he reached out to Mr. Limbaugh and was not surprised that he accepted the invitation to join the cause.

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