Rush Limbaugh, no matter his protestations otherwise, is one of the main reasons Donald Trump is the nominee for the GOP today. Like Fox News and other Republican media, he has cheered for Trump and Trump’s rhetoric and Trump’s rise all along. One of the things that so-called conservative media has cheered the loudest and with the most fervor, indeed one of the biggest selling points for Trump by his supporters everywhere, was his hardliner stance on immigration. And now he’s saying something different.

Trump flipped on his voters, on Rush’s listeners. He did. That happened.

But now Rush is saying that, eh, he never really bought it anyway, what’s the big deal?

Seriously:

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Rick in Los Angeles. I’m glad you waited, sir. Your turn. Have at it.

CALLER: Thanks for taking my call, Rush. I just wanted to comment on your comment that you just made about Trump and his illegal — and his deportation shift. I just distinctly heard you say it’s not considered a flip-flop. And I just want to tell you, you’re doing a disservice to all of us Republican primary voters who didn’t vote for Trump that are struggling with whether or not to vote for Trump, when you diminish the impact of his single policy that he ridiculed all other candidates for for over a year.

I mean, John Kasich classically said on the debate stage — he laughingly said — “Come on, folks, this isn’t serious. He’s not gonna deport everyone.” And Trump went ahead and ridiculed everybody who wasn’t for deportation. And for all of us who were saying that it was a con job, that it was a snow job — that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that he’s unqualified to be president — for you to sit here and say that now that he adopts all the positions of everybody he ridiculed as not even being a flip-flop and it’s no big deal? This is why so many Republican voters have such a hard time going to the con man!

RUSH: Well, in the first place, I don’t think Trump has actually changed that much from what I he said. And I’m also not aware that he told every Republican they had to agree with him or else whatever he was gonna do to them, he did. I’m just… The point of… What is it that you’re —

CALLER: With all due respect, Rush, on Chuck Todd’s show he specifically said when asked the question, “You mean, you’re gonna rip the families apart?” He said, “No, I’m not gonna rip the families apart. They all have to go, even the US citizen children.” He then got in the middle of the debate between Marco and Ted. When Ted wanted legalization and Marco wanted citizenship as part of a comprehensive plan, he said, “They’re both wrong, they’re both being absurd, they all have to go or we don’t have a nation of laws.” Come on! You were watching the debates as the rest of us were! You know exactly what he said and you know exactly how he ridiculed everybody on that stage!

RUSH: Yeah? Well, I guess the difference is — or not the difference. I guess the thing is… This is gonna enrage you. You know, I could choose a path here to try to mollify you, but —

CALLER: (chuckles)

RUSH: — I never took him seriously on this.

CALLER: But 30 million — or 15 or 10 million… Excuse me. Ten million people did.

RUSH: Yeah, and they still don’t care! My point is they still don’t care! They’re gonna stick with him no matter what.

I never took him seriously on this.

Seriously. What a dick.

The caller is right that millions of people absolutely did take Trump seriously. Earnestly. Fervently. And Rush, despite the mealy-mouthed protest he followed up with (more transcript below), is part of the reason. He never said “Trump doesn’t intend to do this. Trump won’t follow through on this. Don’t take him seriously on this.”

He never said that. He can lay patter for hours about not endorsing or not interviewing candidates, but his listeners do think he’s there to tell the truth. If he never took Trump seriously on immigration, which everyone in possession of the slightest amount of political savvy knew was the issue making Trump’s candidacy, then the truth would be to tell the listener that he never took him seriously.

Anything else, anything less, it just weaseling.

And now here’s a transcript of that weaseling:

RUSH: Yeah, and they still don’t care! My point is they still don’t care! They’re gonna stick with him no matter what.

CALLER: But this is why Trump is gonna get annihilated, because nobody called him out early on about his absurd policies!

RUSH: Yes, they did! For crying out loud, fifteen candidates called him out! Everybody was calling him out! Everybody was calling him an idiot and a charlatan and a phony baloney, plastic banana, good time rock and roller! Everybody was.

CALLER: Except, unfortunately, the number one place where Republican primary voters get their news —

RUSH: Oh. Oh, no! It’s on me and we’re out of time. Darn!

CALLER: — which is Fox News.

RUSH: (interruption) Oh, he said Fox. I thought he was dumping on me. Okay. Well, I’ll pretend he was dumping on me when we get back anyway. I’m prepared for it.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Look, I’m pretty sure — you can double check me on this — you can go to the immigration plan for Trump on his website. I think it always was and to this day is silent about mass deportation. It was also silent about letting deported illegal aliens come back.

Now, I don’t want to nitpick this because I think what people have to understand about Trump, look, let me go back and review the primaries here for just a second. ‘Cause I’m well aware that our first caller touched a nerve out there. I know that there are many of you Republicans that really don’t want to vote for Trump and you hate Hillary and you’re frosted. You don’t know what to do. You don’t want Hillary like you just don’t want anybody; but man, oh, man, you’re having trouble stomaching Trump.

You are resenting the entire primary process ’cause you don’t understand how in the hell it could have happened. How could 15, most of whom eminently qualified Republicans, get blown to smithereens by an orange-haired reality TV star? Now, I spent most of the primaries — you people know I do not ever endorse during primaries. I’ve had this policy since even before I began this program. It is not a cop-out to say that. I do not do it, for a host of reasons.

Folks, I’ll tell you how far I take it. I don’t even have interviews on this program. The candidates call here and they want to appear during primaries, I say no, because then I would have to have them all, and I am not turning this program over to a political party or a campaign or what have you. I do not want to be obligated in that way. I don’t want to be bound by if I take one interview, I have to do a whole bunch of others and lose control of the program. And that has been a professional policy of mine, professional broadcaster policy, not political policy — well, some political policy in there, but it’s been a broadcast-related policy.

I am a radio guy. I do a radio program. And my success here is defined by radio and broadcast business metrics, not political. It never has been defined by political metrics, I’ve never wanted it to be. I have always said countless times, my success is not determined by who wins elections. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested, doesn’t mean I have vested interests, but I’m a radio guy. I have no question about who I am, I have no question about what I do, and I have made the effort from the get-go to never cross the line of demarcation. And for a host of reasons.

At the top of that list of reasons is I don’t control a single one of ’em, and they’re gonna do things that are gonna be tough to defend at some point, and I don’t want to be in the position of having to defend it, when I didn’t say it, when I didn’t do it. By the same token, they’re gonna come and go, and I am not gonna tie myself to the fortunes of a politician. Never have, and I’m never going to. I’m gonna outlast them all.

But that’s not the objective; that’s the result. I’m a radio guy. I am a broadcaster. Everything I do is within the confines of broadcasting. My business model is a broadcast business model. The way I measure my own success is with broadcast metrics. So we come to the primaries, as we do every year, and I do not endorse. I will express people that I like and dislike, things that I hear that I approve of and agree with. I mean, I don’t sit it out. But in terms of endorsing and telling you what you should do, no way. And part of that is I have the utmost respect for all of you to make up your own minds about these things.

I never have believed, like the media has said, that you are a bunch of people waiting for marching orders here. You know what you think. You know who you trust. And you don’t need me. Now, I’m not denying that if you’re leaning to somebody and you think I’m leaning it might make you more comfortable doing so, but I’m not under the illusion like the media wants to believe that you all wake up every day thinking nothing, knowing nothing and waiting to have your brains filled by whatever it is I say.

So what I was doing during the primaries, I went to great lengths to even explain what I was doing during the primaries. The big shock and the surprise in the primaries was Trump. How can this guy being skunking everybody? And I sought to explain it to you. And I was dead-on right about all of it. And I did it multiple times. And the reason I wanted people — if you’re gonna beat Trump, let’s say you’re Cruz, let’s say you’re Marco Rubio, if you want to beat Trump, you have to understand how to separate Trump’s supporters from Trump.

The first thing you have to learn, and that is the media can’t do it for you, because the media is not responsible for Trump’s supporters being supportive of Trump. I mean, you may be able to say that Trump is a media creation because he’s hosted The Apprentice and has been all over the media, but the media did not make Trump the candidate. Trump made Trump the candidate.

So when this whole thing starts and everybody thinks, “Well, that’s it,” after his first announcement. Everybody’s laughing, what a buffoon, this is an embarrassment, and everybody’s waiting for him to implode, and we all know the story. He does the opposite of implode, and nobody can understand why, and I’m trying to make everybody understand why.

In the process of trying to make everybody understand why some people say, “You’re for Trump and you don’t have the guts to say it.” Nope. I was just telling you what was going on. Intelligence guided by experience equals flawless commentary in this sense. And that’s what I was doing. And it’s what I continue to do. But now we’re out of the primaries. Now we’re to the general election. I’m just gonna tell you what I’ve been telling you from the get-go anyway. I don’t care what the options are. Anybody but Hillary Clinton. Anybody but more of what we have had the last eight years.

Anybody. It can’t get more destructive than what we’ve had the last eight years, and we do not need somebody who is simply gonna rubber stamp what has happened and try to build on it, and that’s Hillary Clinton. We’re losing our country. Our country’s being torn apart. Our country’s being disassembled right before our very eyes by people who have that as their objective.

If you have the stomach, his rationalizations go on. And on. But to make a long story short, he never really thought Trump was going to do things that Trump said he was going to do, but it’s fine because he’s not Hillary.

You know who else isn’t Hillary, Rush? The other candidates you hung out to dry so you could play nice with your rich golf buddy.

Big. Fat. Weasel.

By the way, if you’re wondering what he’ll say when Trump opts out of the wall, he’s already told you. He’ll say “but Hillary.” Just like every other troll.