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November 21, 2014

'Saturday Night Live's' Hall of TV Presidents

by Gabrielle Dunn, posted Feb 15th 2010 9:00AM
Fred Armisen as Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live'Saturday Night Live' is notoriously in top form during an election year, and the best part of any political sketch is a spot-on impersonation of the commander in chief.

A joke-ripe George W. Bush gave two Wills (Ferrell and Forte) their chance at playing presidential but we especially love oldies like Phil Hartman's sly Bill Clinton and Dana Carvey's eerie George Bush Sr. We can even suspend our disbelief to buy current cast member Fred Armisen as a faux Barack Obama.

In honor of President's Day, we bring you some of SNL's best presidential impressions. Hail to the chief(s)!


Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter



Akroyd's Carter was played as a Don Knotts-like simpleton, who smiled through explanations of how the budget couldn't be balanced. His silly accent and denim shirt in this sketch were so funny they almost made us forget about the energy crisis. Aykroyd also did a hilarious Richard Nixon impression, but sadly video of it can't be found online. (We thought the internet had everything!)

Will Forte as George W. Bush


Forte had the unfortunate task of picking up Dubya's cowboy hat from 'SNL' favorite Will Ferrell, but his impression eventually started to stand on its own. Forte's Bush really shined in the debate sketches opposite Seth Meyers' John Kerry, which expertly captured Bush's haughty tone when dealing with questions he can't answer (so, basically most questions).

Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford


Chase's penchant for pratfalls served him well in his impression of Ford, who bumbled his way through his presidency. In this video, his first sketch as Ford, Chase nails it from the beginning with a hilarious water-pouring gag.

Dana Carvey as George Bush Sr.

Carvey's Bush Sr., with his flailing hand gestures and hilariously large glasses, is one of the most memorable 'SNL' presidential impressions. In this cold open, Carvey uses the phrase "orgy of death" in Bush's slime-y Texas drawl.

Will Ferrell as George W. Bush

Ferrell's squinty-eyed Bush was childlike, airheaded and often seemingly on drugs. Sketches were made even funnier by Ferrell's capturing of the real Bush's mixing of words and phrases. In this one, he praises then-Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for being "heavily patriotized."

Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton


Hammond is 'SNL's' most prolific impressionist and his charming and womanizing Clinton is second only to his irate Jeopardy-bound Sean Connery. Dropping by the Weekend Update desk, Hammond's Clinton winks at the camera and gestures for an absent Amy Poehler to call him. If we were her, we would.

Phil Hartman as Ronald Reagan



Hartman's tight facial expression and clipped speech made him a perfect Reagan, wrinkled chin prosthetic included. In this sketch, Reagan is a multi-tasking mastermind who negotiates with Iran, meets with actor Jimmy Stewart and poses for a photo-op with a girl scout.

Fred Armison as Barack Obama


Although we wish 'SNL' would diversify its cast enough so that Armisen doesn't have to play the part, his impression of Obama is fun to watch. Armisen captures Obama's slow speech pattern and cool demeanor nicely. He is especially hilarious as the straight man to Jason Sudekis' silly Vice President Joe Biden.

Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton


This sketch, which sees Hartman's Clinton visiting a McDonalds and scarfing down the food of the bewildered patrons, perfectly captured Clinton's goofy everyman appeal. When one of his secret servicemen asks Clinton not to tell his wife they let him into a fast food chain, Hartman replies, "There's going to be a lot we don't tell Mrs. Clinton." Ha!


Sound off: Who was your favorite 'SNL' president?

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