Liberal charities benefit from sales of Limbaugh book

December 31, 1993|By Paul Rogers | Paul Rogers,Knight-Ridder News Service

Two liberal organizations are each $1,000 richer, thanks to conservative radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh and a Santa Cruz bookstore owner who linked Mr. Limbaugh's latest book to the price of bologna and gave away the profits.

The National Organization for Women and the Santa Cruz AIDS Project will receive the $1,000 donations soon, says Neal Coonerty, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Mr. Coonerty, who stepped down as mayor of Santa Cruz this year, gained national attention in mid-November when he began the bologna-book fund-raiser.

"It was fun," says Mr. Coonerty, an unabashed liberal. "We had a couple of really ugly letters -- one signed with a swastika -- but most people were overwhelmingly supportive."

Through Wednesday, Coonerty had sold 130 copies. The promotion ends today.

The book weighs 1.4 pounds. High-grade bologna costs $5.99 a pound at the deli counter, making Mr. Limbaugh's collection of right-wing thoughts worth $8.40, according to Mr. Coonerty.

Customers paid the full $23 cover price. But the remaining $14.60 from each book was split between NOW and the AIDS Project. Posters of Mr. Coonerty's son, Ryan, with a clothespin on his nose, decorated the shelves.

After news reports that Mr. Limbaugh's book was being used as a way to raise money for the kind of groups Mr. Limbaugh normally mocks, Mr. Coonerty was besieged with calls and letters from as far away as Rhode Island. Plenty of angry conservatives and gleeful liberals chimed in from such places as Iowa, Indiana and Alabama.

"Santa Cruz, Russia: Pinko Commie Slum," began one.

A 79-year-old piano teacher in West Virginia wrote: "I was excited to find out that someone disliked Ol' Big Mouth as much as I do."

Mr. Limbaugh, who previously has mocked Santa Cruz as a haven for graying hippies, leftist politicians and politically correct college students, made fun of Mr. Coonerty's scheme on television. "Only liberals would be stupid enough to start their own business and deliberately lose money," he said last month.

One woman suggested Mr. Coonerty sell each book with a vomit bag, called a "Limbag."

"That sounds like a good idea," says Mr. Coonerty, laughing. "We might do that for the next one."

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