With the aggressive hype machine surrounding the release of The Simpson Movie, you don’t need us to tell you the impact of The Simpsons on modern culture. But here are a few tidbits to mull over anyway: the show garnered 23 Emmy Awards;Time named it the 20thcentury's best television series, and “D’oh” is in the Oxford English Dictionary. What merits the show’s now ubiquitous presence in pop culture and is its 23 Emmys is its role in removing cartoons from Disney and Hanna-Barbera’s realm and redefining them as pop culture savvy vehicles that could be crude, satirical, and hilarious.
Among its hordes of firsts, The Simpsons helped transplant politicians from the cartoon funny pages to our television sets. They lampooned political figures on prime time and provided us laughs at the expense of the political establishment, all in 2-D. The Simpsons, and those cartoons indebted to The Simpsons — Family Guy, South Park, Futurama, American Dad — have now skewered politicians with trenchant wit and caustic satire for five Presidential administrations and counting.
In honor of the July 27 opening of The Simpsons Movie, we’ve compiled the 20 best politicians in (recent) cartoon history.
20.Lil’ Bush proves that comedic timing is everything — and this show is off by about four years. Gags about Bush’s incompetence are more depressing than funny at this late stage. But Lil’ Bush does provide one good moment in the first episode when Lil’ Dick Cheney seduces Barbara Bush in a hilarious parody of the infamous “Are your trying to seduce me?” scene from The Graduate.
19.Simpsons creator Matt Groening tackles politics of the future in the Futurama episode “A Head in the Polls.” Richard Nixon’s head — attached to a giant robot’s body — wins the presidency of Earth by two votes after Fry and Leela forget its election day. Predictably, Nixon goes on a tyrannical rampage. Some things never change.
18. When Bush Sr. moves next door to the Simpsons after leaving the White House, Bart goes Dennis the Menace on his cranky ass. Right after H.W. finishes typing his memoirs — the final line is priceless: “Since I achieved all my goals as president during one term there was no need for a second” — Bart shreds the entire stack of papers and receives an old-fashioned lesson in corporal punishment over bended knee.
17. If Seth Green and the writers of Family Guy have one talent, it’s for heaping together nonsensical cutaways. But if they have a second talent, it’s for meshing pop culture trivia with anything and everything. When Peter secedes from the U.S. to form his own country, “Petoria,” he invites nefarious world leaders to a pool party. This clip includes Bill Clinton naked in the War Room and Slobodan Milosevic discussing Seinfeld: “That show’s great. It’s just like me and my friends — before I kill them.”
16.American Dad pokes fun at God and the highest office in America in a minute-long clip. God calls up Bush and asks him to stop dropping his name in his speeches: “For example that time you said God wanted me to be president.” Everyone knows God didn’t want Bush to be president, he just wanted Cheney to be VP.
15. The SNL crew at Fun with Real Audio render an animated Bill Clinton and Bob Dole during an October 1996 debate as Americans really envisioned them. Dole’s face falls off while Clinton snogs an intern (pre-Monica) and launches Hillary into space. The audio is real; the animation just seems real.
14. The members of the Springfield Republican Party — Mr. Burns, Krusty, Rainier Wolfcastle, Dr. Hibbert, Rich Texan, and Dracula — are always planning some sort of “unmitigated evil” at their Transylvania-esque headquarters. In these two clips the Republican Party succeeds in renaming everything after Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole repeatedly refers to himself in third-person, and Strom Thurmond makes an appearance — as a really, really old man.
14. Al Gore’s daughter, Kristin Gore Cusack, used to write for Futurama, and Al Gore voiced himself in several episodes. In a spoof of AnInconvenient Truth Al Gore speaks at the Convention for the Cure of Global Warming. Gore is introduced as the inventor of the environment (instead of the Internet) and declares himself author of the best-selling book, “Harry Potter and the Balance of the Earth.” Now if only this scene had a LOTR allusion…
13. Dick Cheney shotgun jokes have officially achieved cliché status, but the incident was too hilarious for Family Guy to let die. The writers and animators showed Cheney cradling a shotgun and dropped a reference to his abysmal performance ratings. Asleep in a rocking chair, Dick mutters, “18 percent approval ratings. I’ll give you 18 percent of my foot in your ass.”
12. After a Muslim student moves into South Park, Cartman transforms into Jack Bauer in a spot-on 24 spoof featuring dramatic cell phone calls, over-reliance on sub-par technological wizardry, and a scene of scatological-related torture. A 24 episode wouldn’t be complete without a nuclear device — except this time it’s a suitcase nuke lodged in Hillary Clinton’s snizz. That’s right, a “snuke!”