2006 Refought: Michael J. Fox Slams Limbaugh for 'Cartoonish' Attack on Fox's Sleazy Democrat Ads

Selling a new book, actor Michael J. Fox appeared Monday on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and dismissed Rush Limbaugh as "cartoonish" for his criticism of Fox’s slashing ads for Democrats in the 2006 midterms. After host Jon Stewart suggested Limbaugh’s brain was "diseased," Fox even joked to Stewart that it’s questionable that Limbaugh has a brain. Left out of the cozy, mocking liberal chat was any notion of what Fox actually said in his commercials for Democrats.

"Cartoonish" is a good word for what Fox claimed in a mud-slinging 2006 ad against Sen. Jim Talent, who lost his race. He claimed Talent "opposes expanding stem cell research. Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope." (For more background, see the October 25, 2006 Cyber Alert.) At the time, The Weekly Standard reported one spokesman took the extravagant claim further, claiming that by criminalizing medical research, the anti-cloning legislation would mandate that a cured patient's first steps "out of a wheelchair" would be "into a jail cell."

Stewart walked Fox into a Limbaugh attack by suggesting how he was stunned that Fox’s "motives could be impugned." As if Fox wasn’t doing any impugning of Jim Talent?

STEWART: I was stunned, you know, when you got involved in this, the idea that your motives could be impugned. That was the craziest part I ever saw, and I’ve always wondered, I didn’t talk to you after that happened --

FOX: That’s when it got fun. People think that’s when it got bad for me, but that’s when it got fun. When – Rush Limbaugh – I can barely say the name.

STEWART: So many of us have that issue.

FOX: I really have a block. But when he kind of launched his attack, it was -- I had this moment where I went – "Oh my God, is it that predictable? Is it that cartoonish? That you like, attack the messenger in this way, and not deal with the merits of the science at all?

STEWART: It’s absolutely that cartoonish.

FOX: It’s that cartoonish. But what was great was it allowed me to then start a dialogue, start a conversation. We basically hijacked the last two weeks of that midterm election to talk about stem cells, which nobody wanted to talk about. And it was, other than the fact that I was deadly serious about it, there was sort of a merry prankster thing to it.

Earlier in the conversation, Fox told Stewart that he explained his Parkinson’s Disease to his daughter by just saying "My brain works differently than yours." Stewart picked that up again to whack Limbaugh:

STEWART: When your daughter asked you about that, did you have to explain to her, ‘His brain works differently?’ [Laughter] It’s diseased!

FOX: That presupposes [he has a brain]....[Stewart laughs.]

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis