Contemplating the current field of Republican presidential candidates, Rush Limbaugh sounded like a man with malaise.
"To be honest with you, there's nobody out there that revs me up," he confessed to his audience of several million conservative sympathizers on his radio show last week, "so why should I pretend there is?"
What for much of the past year has been an undercurrent of grumbling on the right about the top tier of Republican contenders -- Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani -- is lately on the rise in both frequency and volume. Limbaugh's sour note is the most striking of examples.
From consultants to bloggers to talk show hosts, there is a climate of suspicion -- at times bordering on contempt -- among conservative activists about their 2008 choices.