Finally acknowledging they’d been remiss in not covering the ACORN scandal, the New York Times blamed their dereliction on the fact that … nobody at the Times watches Fox News, or listens to talk radio, which has been on the story since it broke.

The paper duly announced that they would now assign a special editor to “monitor [conservative] opinion media.” Somehow I doubt there was much competition for that beat.

Also this week, two GOP stalwarts offered up different views on the power of talk radio.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., (of “You lie!” fame) held a fundraiser as his way of thanking upstate South Carolina’s “talk radio community.”

Wilson explained that listening to talk radio callers made him realize how angry many Americans were about Obama’s health-care reforms.

Meanwhile, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., said Republican policymakers needed to reclaim the “public face of conservatism” from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

“I think talk radio has done a great job, and I’m not being critical,” said Santorum, “but, you know, look, part of talk radio is entertainment and hyperbole – you know, keeping an audience, and while, you know, it serves a very important and useful purpose, you know we also need policymakers to go out there and be a little less shrill.”

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh appeared as a guest on Jay Leno’s new talk show and got an enthusiastic welcome from the audience.

Leno (himself a wealthy man) opined that corporate CEOs had no business earning astronomical compensation because they didn’t “need” it, leading Rush to say later he wished he’d replied, “Jay, do you ‘need’ 200 cars in your collection?” (FREE video and transcript)

Speaking of cars, Rush took Jay’s “Green Car Challenge,” taking an “eco-friendly” electric car around a track that included a cutout of Al Gore. To wild applause, Rush ran his car over the Al Gore figure – twice! (FREE video).

Back on his show, Rush said he hopes Sarah Palin’s forthcoming autobiography, “Going Rogue,” sells five million copies. That may happen: the book, which won’t be released until November, has already hit #1 on (FREE audio clip).

The highlight of the week, however, was a call from “Susan in Glendale,” who spoke passionately for more than 20 uninterrupted minutes about her concerns for the future of the country (FREE web cam video).

The phone call generated such unprecedented listener reaction that Rush put the audio and transcript on his main page, so that everyone (not just Rush Limbaugh premium members) could hear it.

As Limbaugh told listeners after the call, “Susan in Glendale said, ‘I can’t rally the nation.’ Susan, you just did.”

Glenn Beck

It’s another sign that Glenn Beck has become a household word. Even he got a laugh out of Saturday Night Live’s first ever spoof of him and his show (FREE video).

Less amusing was singer Bette Midler’s bizarre comparison on another talk show, between Beck’s programs to the hateful government broadcasts that led to genocide in Rwanda.

Beck responded that the words and beliefs of “progressives” are the ones that lead to “genocide,” by means of abortion, massacres, gulags and eugenics
(FREE transcript and audio).

Glenn Beck also visited his Washington state hometown to accept an honor from the mayor, but not everyone was pleased. At Safeco Stadium, Beck entertained 7000 fans –
(FREE amateur videos – first video is audio only due to technical difficulties) while about 30 anti-Beck protesters milled around outside.

In related news, Beck’s Fox News show “had more viewers than the competition combined, every night last week.”

Mark Levin

“If you didn’t listen to the Mark Levin show yesterday, you missed one of the greatest openings of a radio show ever,” said one blogger.

Between the parody of the infamous school kids’ hymn to Obama and the host’s challenge to the president – “Screw the Olympics, what about the war?” – it was a classic Mark Levin segment (FREE audio).

Fred Thompson

On Monday, former cast member Fred Thompson had choice words about the season premiere of “Law & Order,” which had a storyline accusing the Bush administration of torture.

P.S.: It’s nice to hear a familiar and distinctive voice from Hugh Hewitt’s radio show – “Glenn from Dallas” – phoning in to Thompson’s program too. I sometimes think he should get a radio show of his own (FREE audio).

Hugh Hewitt

Speaking of Hugh Hewitt and “free audio,” starting this week, all Hugh Hewitt podcasts are available to premium members only. However, you can read his blog and get a daily email newsletter for free, along with show transcripts – like his interviews with Michelle Malkin and Mark Steyn:

Steyn: I never get terribly excited about so-called evolution stories, because it seems to me that it’s the tiny little bit of us, I can’t remember what it is now, I think it’s not just that we’re, whatever it is, 97 percent ape, but we’re supposedly 86 percent or something pumpkin. And clearly, if that’s true, then there’s something not terribly useful about the scale. It’s the tiny little percentage that separates us from the rest of this stuff that makes the difference.

Hewitt: Well, that pumpkin stuff explains radio producers.

Hewitt’s attractive new members’ site, the “Hughniverse,” has great features, such an exclusive column by regular guest, the inimitable James Lileks.

Sean Hannity

Fresh out of federal prison, colorful ex-Congressman James Traficant talked to Sean Hannity about Middle East policy and the economic stimulus plan. It was a memorable, no-holds-barred segment (Audio is available to paid subscribers only).

When Traficant appeared on Hannity’s Fox News show later, he claimed that Israel “controls much of our foreign policy,” to which Hannity replied, “It sounds like you’re a kook” (FREE video).

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager returned to his show Tuesday and described the experience of mourning his late mother in the traditional Jewish way. Audio archives are members only, but Prager’s new column about his mother’s passing is available here.

Out of left field

Liberal talk radio veteran Lynn Samuels admitted, on the air, that her conservative colleagues were human after all:

“I worked with Rush and Sean for years, but I’ll tell you one thing – I probably shouldn’t say this, but it’s true – you could talk to Rush. I saw Rush every day and we had a lovely relationship” (FREE audio).

In other news: Hell just froze over!

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