Heroes of Liberty Blog

How A Joke by Rush Limbaugh Gave Rise to Dan's Bake Sale

How A Joke by Rush Limbaugh Gave Rise to Dan's Bake Sale
How A Joke by Rush Limbaugh Gave Rise to Dan's Bake Sale

When a 24-year old college student named Dan Kay picked up the phone in March 1993, little could he have guessed the turn that his life was about to take. Kay was a fan of radio show host Rush Limbaugh, and he wanted to get Rush’s newsletter, but a year’s subscription cost $29.95 and Dan didn’t have that kind of money. Calling into the show, he asked: could Rush give him a copy for free? 

Now it just so happened that around about this time, President Clinton had told the American people that there was no way he could bring down taxes. The budget deficit was too high, he said. America needed every penny it could get to pay off its debts. When a teacher heard this, she decided to get her students to run a bake sale, baking cookies and selling them in the local neighborhood. The kids then sent the money they raised to Washington to pay down the debt. Soon, school kids all across the country were holding bake sales to pay down the deficit. 

As Rush himself recounted years later on his show: “the media started talking about [what] a wonderful civic lesson this is: Young students learning the importance of the budget in the second and third grade! And, folks, I was right in there blowing that out of the sky. I said, “These kids aren’t learning anything. They’re being propagandized. Their parents are already overtaxed. It’s not that there isn’t enough money being sent to Washington by certain people doing bake sales or anything else. The reason to explain the deficit is because those people in Washington have no spending discipline.”

So when Dan phoned into Rush’s show that day, asking for a free newsletter, Rush made a joke, telling Dan: why don’t you hold a bake sale? 

But Dan thought it was a good idea. Why not hold a bake sale? He started calling around local businesses to see if they would support it, and they said sure, why not? Soon, a date was set for May 22, 1993, and the Old Town Square at Fort Collins, Colorado, where Dan lived, was booked for the event.

Word soon got around, helped along by Rush himself jokingly hyping the event on his show. People started to call in to say that they were going to make the trek to Colorado to support Dan, and asked whether Rush would be there. Some even paid for billboards along highways heading toward Colorado, putting up big adverts reading: Rush to Dan’s Bake Sale! The event, which had started out as an off the cuff joke, took on a life of its own. 

And so it was that on the afternoon of May 22, Rush found himself in a helicopter in the pouring rain, heading to Fort Collins. He had been planning on taking the highway from the airport to the event, but it was so packed with people heading toward the event, that a helicopter was the only way to beat the crowds. 

“It was pouring rain, and the helicopter landed short of Fort Collins. We had the chopper in there, ’cause we couldn’t have got there if we drove. The interstate was backed up. So we choppered in there, and the moment — the moment — my helicopter touched down and got off, the skies cleared. And it was a radiant, almost cloudless sunny day, within moments of my arrival there,” Rush later recalled. 

No one really knows how many people made it to Fort Collins that day, but they came from far and wide. A group of Rush fans chartered a plane from California. Others flew in from England and Guam. Thousands drove across the country in convoys — all for one guy’s bake sale, and to see Rush speak. The event was dubbed ‘the Conservative Woodstock’. 

The funny thing was, in all the excitement, Dan forgot to bake enough cookies to raise his $29.95. He had to ask around other vendors at the sale to borrow some of their products so he could sell them. But when Rush asked him on stage for his check in payment for the newsletter, Dan was able to proudly hand it over, along with a giant fortune cookie that a local Chinese restaurateur had baked especially for the occasion. 

That was the kind of guy Rush Limbaugh was: a believer in low taxes and self-responsibility; in Americans standing up, coming together and doing something good; and in having a joke and a laugh while doing it. Isn’t that the kind of America we want? 

Introduce your children to Rush Limbaugh with Heroes of Liberty’s book: Rush Limbaugh and the First Amendment. Available now on our website.

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