*With an assist from Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh, 29-year-old Tea Party member Ryan Rhodes is enjoying his 5 minutes of fame, making TV appearances on CNN and Fox News Channel , after video of him challenging President Obama on civility and financial policy went viral.
His road to celebrity began Monday as Obama signed autographs after a townhall meeting. With patriotic music blaring in the background and surrounded by supporters of the president, Rhodes asked Obama how he can call for “civility” when Vice President Joe Biden is calling Tea Partiers “terrorists” and “hostage takers.” Obama denied Biden used such language.
Rhodes next asked Obama about the weak economy and whether it was “reasonable” to expect a balanced budget from lawmakers.
“It doesn’t sound like you’re interested in listening,” Obama told him.
“You haven’t listened either,” Rhodes shot back. “You’re blaming it on everyone but yourself” (video below).
The Drudge Report on Tuesday posted a photo of Rhodes talking to Obama accompanied by the headline: “Tea Partiers In His Face,” then Rhodes appeared on Limbaugh’s national radio show.
Limbaugh asked if CNN had reached out to Rhodes, and he told them it had. “About every station pretty much contacted me,” Rhodes said.
“Opportunities galore are going to present themselves to you as a result of this instance,” Limbaugh said. Then Limbaugh promised to send Rhodes a free iPad, Macbook and samples of his new iced tea line, Two If By Tea.
The next stop for Rhodes was an interview with Sean Hannity on his Hannity TV show. The Fox News host not only chatted with the newly minted media personality, but also enlisted the help of a couple more Fox stars to dissect the video.
Rhodes’ sudden fame is similar to the way Joe Wurzelbacher shot to prominence after Obama, while campaigning, talked to the Ohio plumber about his desire to “spread the wealth around” if he were elected president.
The media dubbed him Joe the Plumber and he quickly appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Evening News and a dozen more TV shows after the exchange. Later, he became a motivational speaker and wrote a book.