The group of companies who’ve pulled their advertising. The public outcry that insists his Saturday “statement” wasn’t contrite enough. The lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are slamming him or running from him: Those are the reasons that Rush Limbaugh gave this whole apology thing a new try today, in the opening segments of his radio show.

“Give me 30 minutes — I want to explain why I apologized,” said Limbaugh just after noon.

The reason he apologized, he says, is that he descended to such a low, such a scummy, gutter-level depth . . . that he started to resemble liberals: ”I don’t expect morality, intellectual honesty from the left — they’ve demonstrated their willingness to say or do anything. This is the mistake I made: In fighting them . . . I became like them. Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge.”

Limbaugh further mentioned that he felt “very badly” because he’d “used those two words [slut and prostitute] to describe Sandra Fluke and I feel very badly about that. . . . I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words. . . . I ended up descending to their level. It’s important never to be like them.”

The host shortly thereafter gave an extensive recap of the events on Capitol Hill that introduced Fluke to the public dialogue. That entire disquisition was dedicated to shoring up Limbaugh’s policy position on contraception — and to hammering Fluke’s position on the same. He said that, at a Capitol Hill hearing, Fluke gave “unverified” information about her unnamed friends. “Hearsay,” he called it. It was a break from what Limbaugh did over and over last week in that it framed a respectful and civil criticism of Fluke’s position on contraception. Limbaugh acknowledged that he should have struck this tone days ago: “All of this is what I should have told you last week.”

Then came the swagger, as Limbaugh turned up his nose at the businesses that had deserted his show since the flap broke. Speaking in adoring tones to his listeners, Limbaugh said: “I’m sorry to see them go. They have profited handsomely from you. They’ve done very well due to their access to you. . . . Now they’ve chosen to deny themselves that access. They’ve decided they don’t want you or their business; for me, this program is always about you.” The host said that he’d often turned down advertisers that he didn’t feel were appropriate for his audience, including GM.

Another point about the deserters: “Fine, we’ll replace them,” he said, scoffing at the campaign to persuade advertisers to quit the Rush Limbaugh Show. “Only the leftists try to use extortion, pressure, and threats to silence” others.

Will all this be enough for Limbaugh? There’s no telling. He did apologize over and over to Sandra Fluke, though always for the same reason — that he had used the wrong words to describe her. Again, the key moment: “My apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words.” So, if Limbaugh had only said she was “promiscuous” instead of a “slut,” he’d be okay with the whole episode. Nothing new here, except the sound of a desperate and bitter man groveling to stay put.