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On SNL, Will Ferrell's George W. Bush returns to remind us he was a shitty president, too

Will Ferrell (Screenshot: NBC)

What with Will Ferrell in the house for his fourth Saturday Night Live hosting gig since leaving the venerable sketch comedy series in 2002, and the show’s current Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin, seizing his notoriously tetchy guest star’s prerogative to take the week off, it was perhaps not a surprise that the cold open saw Ferrell once more channeling his legendary George W. Bush. Seated at a rec room replica of the Oval Office he left in 2009, Ferrell’s Bush used SNL’s customary lead-off political sketch slot to lecture the American people (in Ferrell’s amiably dim, slyly pointed imitation of the former president) about the recent uptick in his poll numbers compared to current president and walking human nightmare, Donald Trump.

Reminding viewers (he claims to be broadcasting his addresses on Twitch these days) that he was a “really bad” president, W doubled down, stressing, “I was, like, historically not good.” While extolling the virtues of ex-president-hood (super-soakers in the house, lots of time to do his famously mediocre paintings, Minions screenings with Leslie Jones’ Condi Rice), Bush told viewers to recall that the country is still in “the two different wars I started,” and that his duplicitous, Dick Cheney-masterminded policies wrought massive instability in the Middle East. (“What has two thumbs and created ISIS? This guy.”) And while Bush explained that he can see the parallels between himself and Trump (same age, a worldwide laughingstock while in office, became president even while losing the popular vote), he differentiated himself from the current president by boasting that he took office thanks to the machinations of the Supreme Court like a real American, and not Russia, thank you very much. And that, as Ferrell’s still-funny portrayal continues to underline, people actually sort of like him, despite his own brand of dangerous, hurtful idiocy. Although, as he notes in an All In The Family duet with pal Condi, at least, during his administration, “Nazis kept it to themselves.” He’s got a point there.


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.