Bleeding Hearts On the Air: I think we've discussed before (but i'm too lazy to go find evidence thereof) the difference between conservatives and liberals (please, excuse the broad paint strokes, but we have to for this discussion). My thesis is that conservatives are much more interesting, but viewed through an evil filter - meaning that usually their motives are ascribed to some untoward purpose. Liberals on the other hand, are deathly boring, yet typically viewed as benevolent benefactors (even if that benevolence will ultimately cripple an economy for example). So to re-state: conservatives = evil but interesting; liberals = inept but well-meaning.
Let's just accept this premise for the moment, shall we? I know you can point to many evils of the liberals and many noble points of the conservatives, but still, I think the premise has some merit for caricature purposes. Liberal talk radio is therefore doomed to much more narrow audience. If we take Rush as the ultimate in conservative talk, then my hypothesis is upheld. The man, for all his many personal and ideological faults, is interesting. He's well-read, witty and able to more than hold his own in debate. He picks good topics, has intriguing angles, and, most imporantly, his dogma, while repititious, holds intellectual water. This, if nothing else, draws in more listeners who may just want to hear what he has to say, even if he's attacking their heartfelt beliefs.
On the other hand, I've heard a few liberal talkies, like Jim Hightower, say (who bills himself as "America's Number 1 Populist" - catchy, no? Ugh.). He and his ilk always come across as whiny, complaining and rather effete. "Why can't we all just get along?" or "We all need free healthcare/prescriptions/retirement because it's the right thing to do!" Basically, the liberal speaks in platitudes about fairness, which, frankly is boring. The conservative rails against the behemoth that is the government in favor of self-improvement, taking the initiative, and pulling oneself up by one's coattails. That is compelling to listen to.
See, it's not that liberals don't have good points; they do (at least in this writer's opinion), it's just that they sell better on the stump than on A.M. If you want give and take over ideas, then there's only so many ways you can say that people "deserve" X or Y. Now, a liberal talk show will do better when there's a GOP President and Congress, but only because of contrast and to give an outlet to those who feel the need to vent over the airwaves. But, when it comes down to it, it's just a collective pat on the back (not that Rush and his fuc*king dittoheads don't do this all the time). There's little intellectual tension or even intrigue.
Okay, it's just my hypothesis, but can you even imagine Gore given the p.m. drive slot? As he drones on about how he would have forced Kyoto to be ratified you can just picture the cars ramming into trees and one another; the drivers blissfuly unaware.