Lightweight bio of Rush Hudson Limbaugh III, the heartland eminence whose glib wit and rough charms have made him a heavyweight champion of tory causes. With no help (or hindrance) from his subject, Colford (a media columnist for Newsday) has cobbled together a once-over-lightly account of Limbaugh's life that, among other shortcomings, provides superfluous detail on broadcast-industry minutiae. The author first tracks the man from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in his determined efforts to forge a career in radio. Having failed as a top-40 DJ and spent five unfulfilling years in promotion for baseball's Kansas City Royals, Limbaugh made a name for himself as host of an afternoon talk show in Sacramento--an act taken national in 1988 by a crafty packager. The rest, so to speak, is history: The immensely popular college dropout (who turns 42 this year) now reaches over four million listeners daily with his brashly conservative radio commentaries. He also presides over a half-hour syndicated TV show and, of course, has written the bestselling The Way Things Ought to Be (1992). While Colford expresses some grudging admiration for Limbaugh--whose jocular broadsides challenge conventional liberal wisdom on fronts from abortion to cultural diversity, the environment, feminists, homosexuality, and taxation--he's at pains to dish such dirt as can be unearthed. Among other matters, the author delves inconclusively into Limbaugh's 4-F draft status during the Vietnam War; remarks frequently on his subject's lifelong weight problems; features sources who view the twice- divorced commentator as a lonely guy; and questions whether a Manhattan-based Limbaugh can survive as a superstar member of the media elite he professes to despise. What Colford doesn't do is offer any sustained analysis of the visceral appeal of an entertainer who's given voice to many of the electorate's deepest aspirations--and fears. A profile of a consequential showman, then, that's more notable for background noise than substantive content. (Eight pages of photographs--not seen).