The Five: Presidents' Day Spectacular!
It's the TV Squad Presidents' Day Blow Out Sale! Everything must go! We've got a warehouse full of lava lampshades, knee whitening kits, puppy dehydrators, hand-knitted welding masks, helium-powered baby goggles, and aisle after aisle of Mrs. Picklebutton's Homemade Mayonnaise-Flavored Waffle Syrup. Did I mention free giraffe rides for senior citizens?
Anyway, I listed five of my favorite television appearances by presidents in puppet or animated form. Hail to the chief and all that. If you think of others, please share. Taft would have wanted it that way.
George Bush (The Simpsons): I remember hearing about this episode before it first aired back in 1996, and I was very skeptical about whether or not an episode could be built around the former president. The man was perfect for satire, but an entire episode? As it turned out, it became one of my favorite episodes of the series. The writers, quite wisely, chose to avoid the obvious jokes and instead created a wonderfully off-beat battle between two neighbors (Homer and George) who don't see eye to eye. The sewer battle between George and Homer at the end of the episode is priceless.
Ronald Reagan ("Land of Confusion"): Spitting Image was a British show featuring grotesque puppet caricatures of public figures. The Spitting Image versions of Ronald and Nancy Reagan figure prominently in Genesis' "Land of Confusion" video from the 1980s, which ends with Reagan meaning to push the button for the nurse and instead setting off nuclear missiles, thus obliterating all of mankind.
Gerald Ford (D.C. Follies): D.C. Follies was a lesser version of Spitting Image and a creation of Sid and Marty Krofft. Fred Willard played a bartender at a D.C. bar where puppet versions of political figures and other big names of the day would hang out. My memories of this show have faded over the years, but one sketch that always stuck with me was Nixon and others singing about how evil they were and how proud they were of it. Since the only "evil" thing Gerald Ford could think of was the fact that he pardoned Nixon, he just kept singing "I'm Gerald Ford, and I pardoned Nixon" over and over again. I found that hysterical for some reason.
Nixon's head (Futurama): Nixon, to me, was Futurama's answer to Darth Vader. The show played up his sinister persona perfectly and made him an instrument of pure evil in a few episodes. There's also a kind of Napoleonic nature to the character, as well, a once powerful man now reduced to being a head in a jar, but still able to command an odd kind of respect from his cohorts. Maybe there's a lesson there about perseverance, or maybe Nixon's head trapped in glass is just really funny.
Bill Clinton (Family Guy): Clinton's infidelity and lechery was always ripe for satire, but his brief appearance in the "E. Peterbus Unum" episode of Family Guy was one of the funniest depictions of the ex-president I've seen. In a quick cutaway scene we see Bill conferring with some of his staff. There's nothing really funny being said, but Bill is, for no explicable reason, completely naked. His unclad body and nonchalant expression say more than any spoken gag the writers might have come up with.