Tea Party Father Santelli Calls His Rant 'The Best 5 Minutes Of My Life'

02/19/2014 12:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2014
  • Mark Gongloff Managing Editor, Business and Tech, The Huffington Post

Five years after his diatribe helped launch the tea party movement in American politics, CNBC rant stylist Rick Santelli called the episode "professionally the best five minutes of my life."

Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of Santelli inciting traders to riot on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange because President Barack Obama had proposed helping struggling homeowners -- whom Santelli derided as "losers" -- in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

"We’re thinking of having a Chicago tea party in July," Santelli hollered then, to the delight of the traders around him. "All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing it."

Unsurprisingly, because the episode made him famous and a patron saint of the perpetually unhinged, Santelli has long embraced the rant and his role in starting the tea party. His view of the moment has not changed one bit, and he has "no regrets," he told Business Insider on Wednesday.

"Don't feel any differently now. Lots of people, companies and agencies played a role but that day I was focused on the home owners that failed in their personal financial responsibility," Santelli explained to Business Insider. "It was about contract law and about the government promoting bad behavior."

Santelli's rant was not particularly unusual or interesting -- his entire CNBC career has consisted of right-wing ranting on a near-daily basis. But this particular harangue went viral and drew national attention. It is widely credited with inspiring the tea party movement that has opposed Obama and pushed Republican politicians ever-further to the right for the past five years.

Many people immediately questioned why Santelli was apparently angrier about homeowner bailouts under Obama than about bank bailouts under President George W. Bush. To be fair, Santelli did get angry about bank bailouts, too -- just not quite angry enough to start a tea party.

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