Rush: No mercy for mattresses. (MICAH WALTER/REUTERS)

In an aback-taking twist to the media story of the week, Rush Limbaugh has reportedly rejected overtures by Sleep Train, a West coast mattress chain, to get back on board with the show after it issued a public declaration last week that it was pulling its ads.

The Blaze and the Los Angeles Times are reporting that Sleep Train got nowhere in seeking a rapprochement with Rush. The Blaze cites an e-mail from the Limbaugh camp taking issue with Sleep Train’s separation statement:

“Unfortunately, your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh’s character or the intent of his remarks. Thus, we regret to inform you that Rush will be unable to endorse Sleep Train in the future.”

When asked to confirm the reports, Sleep Train PR specialist Jennifer K. Ritchie e-mailed a statement:

“We confirm that Rush Limbaugh will no longer be one of Sleep Train’s radio endorsers.” — Dale Carlsen, CEO and founder of Sleep Train.

There’s an element of finality in that statement, one that was missing from Sleep Train’s previous position. In the aftermath of Limbaugh’s misogynistic remarks about Sandra Fluke — in which the radio host called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” — the company released these words:

“As a diverse company, Sleep Train does not condone such negative comments directed toward any person. We have currently pulled our ads with Rush Limbaugh.”

As the Erik Wemple Blog reported last week, “currently” was the key word in that statement — inserted with the apparent intent to resume the Sleep Train-Limbaugh business relationship, which had lasted more than 25 years.

Carlsen’s firm and Limbaugh had a snug relationship that started back in the mid-1980s in Sacramento, when Limbaugh worked at a local radio station. Carlsen told the Sacramento Bee that Limbaugh remained loyal to Sleep Train even after he hit the big leagues of national syndication. “  ‘I’ll always take care of you,’ ” Carlsen recalled Limbaugh saying.

Limbaugh apparently viewed that relationship as a two-way affair. Perhaps he’s really upset with Sleep Train and CEO Carlsen.

Nah, doubt it. Like most everything that Rush does, this sounds like a calculated and strategic maneuver. How could he possibly have been peeved at Sleep Train’s spanking? All the company said was that Limbaugh had unleashed “negative comments”; that’s not even a condemnation, and Limbaugh himself even apologized for his choice of words. So there’s no bona fide beef here. The best bet is that Limbaugh is sending signals: At a time when reports are circulating that the boycott against the Rush Limbaugh Show is taking a toll, why not make a defiant statement of financial well-being? Especially considering it’s against a regional company.

Plus, the defiance allows Limbaugh to play the game that has built his brand over the years. Instructing his people whom to dislike, that is. Have a look at the e-mail sent to Sleep Train: “Unfortunately, your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh’s character or the intent of his remarks.” With Limbaugh, it’s always Rush and his audience against the world. And the list of opponents now includes Sleep Train, in addition to Sandra Fluke, the “authorette” of a new book on food, President Obama, the liberal media, and on and on.