Donald Trump's fake campaign lands him on Limbaugh show

The cartoonish real estate tycoon continues his self-promotional media blitz disguised as a presidential run

By Alex Pareene
Published March 2, 2011 7:45PM (EST)
Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump
Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump

Donald Trump, a television personality who plays the part of a successful billionaire businessman and real estate mogul, has a new season of his reality competition show to promote. He is also, he insists, toying with the idea of running for president, as a clown Republican. It is this second thing that has everyone in the media falling all over themselves to lavish attention on Trump.

And so Trump was on "Regis and Kelly" this morning, where he continued his recent attack on China and OPEC and everything else that Americans don't know much about but know they don't like. And that's fine. "Regis and Kelly" is an entertainment program. The people watching it understand that the funny man is there to entertain them for a few minutes, before their stories come on.

But yesterday, Trump was a guest on Rush Limbaugh's program. Limbaugh, perhaps the most influential single political pundit on the radio, is smarter than the political reporters who filed credulous "Trump for president speculation" stories following the short-fingered vulgarian's schlocky CPAC appearance. But he has, apparently, a great deal of contempt for his audience, and so he pretended that Mr. Trump was a person worth taking seriously.

Rush Limbaugh rarely even has guests on his show, but he invited this fraud to come on and tell a deeply stupid story about how he offered to buy the White House a fancy ballroom to replace their party tent but they turned him down. This illustrates the Trump "campaign theme," which is "America gets no respect." (Yes, he borrowed the theme from Rodney Dangerfield.)

Trump's reincarnation as a Republican is a new development -- thanks, Roger Stone -- but his "I know what I'm talking about because I'm so incredibly wealthy" routine is age-old, and should no longer fool anyone.

Trump's net worth has been estimated by non-Trump sources as being somewhere between $150 million and $250 million -- and that's before the most recent bankruptcy of of his casino group, the global recession, and the housing crash, which led Trump to default on a $40 million loan he personally guaranteed -- though he claims to be a billionaire. Having one of the last shows NBC can conceivably call a "hit" helps keep him in the lifestyle he is accustomed to, no doubt, so it is incumbent on him to keep ratings high for the upcoming season of "Celebrity Apprentice." (And promotion of the Trump brand in general keeps people signing up for his nonaccredited "school" and paying his million dollar speaking fees.)

That is the purpose of his make-believe presidential media blitz. He will not file with the FEC, he will not form an exploratory committee, and he will not knock on doors in Des Moines. I beg of you, talk show bookers, political reporters and fellow bloggers: Stop taking this joke seriously, or pretending to take it seriously, or even speculating as to how seriously to take it. This "campaign" serves the same purpose as Trump's forthcoming "Comedy Central Roast," only the political pundits -- unlike Jeffrey Ross and company -- aren't getting paid for their marketing work.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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2012 Elections Cpac Donald Trump Nbc Rush Limbaugh War Room