WASHINGTON -- Radio host Rush Limbaugh said his apology to the Georgetown law student he called a "slut" was sincere, but he also joked that he, too, got a busy signal yesterday when he called the show to join the growing roster of advertisers abandoning it.

The student, Sandra Fluke, said Limbaugh's apology did nothing to change the corrosive tone of the debate over health care coverage and that Americans have to decide whether they want to support companies that continue to advertise on his program.

Monday, AOL and Tax Resolution Services Co. became the eighth and ninth advertisers to leave Limbaugh's three-hour show and a radio station dropped the program as he sought to stem the exodus of advertisers.

"I should not have used the language I did, and it was wrong," a rarely contrite Limbaugh told listeners.

But callers to the show urged him not to give in to critics, which now include Republican leaders in Congress and those seeking the GOP presidential nomination. He blamed the media for the pressure.

"Talk about a double standard," Limbaugh said. "Rappers can say anything they want about women. It's called art. And they win awards."

Fluke, who testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health care policy that would compel her Jesuit college's health plan to cover her birth control, said she had not heard from Limbaugh directly but signaled she had little interest in speaking with him. She said his criticism was an attack on women's health.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee, told CBS News yesterday that Limbaugh's statements were unacceptable "in every way" and "should be condemned" by people across the political spectrum.

Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich said it is "silly" to suggest that Limbaugh speaks for the party.

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