State Sen. Leland Yee is going after another right-wing heavyweight, this time launching a boycott of any companies that advertise on Rush Limbaugh's radio show.
Yee, a Democrat who represents northern San Mateo County and western San Francisco, began reaching out Tuesday to dozens of civil rights organizations to ask them to condemn Limbaugh.
His staff has compiled a list of the show's sponsors and, with the help of the community groups, will begin putting pressure on them to pull their advertisements from the show. Yee also wants people to stop patronizing the show's advertisers and has launched an online petition for residents to join the boycott.
Yee decided to initiate the protest after Limbaugh "mocked the Chinese language and culture" during his Jan. 19 radio program and refused to apologize.
On the show, Limbaugh complained that Chinese President Hu Jintao's speech during an appearance that afternoon with President Barack Obama was not translated. Limbaugh then launched a nonsensical impression of Hu, a crude imitation he revisited later in the show.
Yee -- who is Chinese-American and running for mayor of San Francisco, where nearly one-third of residents are Asian -- immediately asked for an apology. Limbaugh responded on his show the next day by saying he thought he did a "remarkable job" at replicating Hu's words for his audience and mentioned comics have long been impersonating foreign languages.
"I have blown up Chinese culture, 3,000 years of it, in 18 seconds," he said sarcastically on the air after reading an article about Yee's complaints. Limbaugh and a caller then poked fun at Yee.
Yee has been one of the Legislature's strongest supporters of free speech in the press, but the radio giant's comments apparently crossed a line with him. In an interview Tuesday, Yee called Limbaugh's words "extremely hurtful" and said the host's follow-up comments compounded the insult.
"I think this is very damaging for children (to hear that) Rush Limbaugh thinks it's OK to make fun of another language or make fun of those individuals who may speak another language," Yee said.
Yee said he's simply looking for an apology, which he hopes will start Limbaugh down a road toward "internal reflection" about his actions.
Representatives at Sherman Oaks-based Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Limbaugh's show and oversees its advertising, did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
Yee is no stranger to public sparring matches. Last year, he took aim at former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as part of his battle to unveil details of her contract to speak at Cal State Stanislaus.
In 2008, he and his supporters persuaded sponsors of the LPGA Tour to threaten to pull their advertisements from the women's pro golfing circuit until it abolished its English-speaking-players-only policy.