Rush Limbaugh and the culture of dishonesty he represents hang onto the crown.
Rush's mean-spirited imitation of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's symptoms, and his mocking of Fox's beliefs in the potential of embryonic stem-cell research, demonstrate in a disgustingly visceral way the way that he, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, most of Fox "News" and the various pundits who fit their mold cheapen the national discourse. Instead of talking seriously about the issues of the day, instead of holding honest opinions and promoting genuine debate, they distort and lie and attack. Their goal isn't a better country, it's fatter wallets for themselves. They achieve that goal by manipulating the citizenry, taking those who might agree with some of the policies they espouse and leading them down the most extreme paths imaginable. When you've convinced your audience that anyone holding different views is traitorous at best, then there's not much room left for freedom of thought or reasoned disagreement.
The Republican party and the candidates who distort and lie in their own ads and speeches are happy to make use of these same tactics, and of the captive audience (mentally and emotionally speaking) offered by these blowhard pundits. Is it coincidence that when Dick Cheney wants to say something controversial, he does so on Limbaugh's show? Is it coincidence that Bush spent more time with the far-right broadcasters than he spent with the former Secretarys of Defense he brought in to (supposedly) share their views on how to proceed in Iraq?
Sadly, these people continue to have an audience, a considerable portion of whom wouldn't know how to seek out the truth about important issues even if they realized they were being used and lied to. Freedom of speech is one of our most important freedoms (although it means less when any of us can be locked up at the president's whim with no hope of trial), but there used to be something called the Fairness Doctrine, which was the sociological/political equivalent of the warning against shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. Opposing viewpoints had to be presented on the same program, if the publicly-owned airwaves were used to espouse political beliefs. That doctrine was overturned during the Reagan years, and it's no surprise that since that time the electorate has become more deeply divided, and more deeply entrenched, on both sides. The result is speech that makes America worse, not better, that really does hurt our country and its people in very real ways.
All so Rush, Bill, Ann and their ilk can live a little higher on the hog.
Now that's horror.