Recap / The Simpsons S 3 E 2 Mr Lisa Goes To Washington
Lisa becomes a finalist in a patriotic essay contest and travels to Washington, D.C., only to have her faith in the American way shattered when she witnesses a senator taking a bribe and planning to destroy a forest.


  • Abraham Lincoln: Lisa tries to talk to the Lincoln Monument for advice, but because too many people are there, she goes to Thomas Jefferson 's Monument instead.
  • Allegory:
    • When Lisa wants to write an essay, she says: "America, inspire me!", whereupon a bald eagle lands on a tree branch and spreads his wings. This pose is a reference to the Great Seal of the United States, complete with arrows in its left claw.
    • After witnessing corruption, Lisa watches a group of politicians near the Capitol and imagines them as cats scratching each other's backs and filthy pigs who are fed money by Uncle Sam and wipe their mouths with the American flag.
  • Bait-and-Switch: George (H.W) Bush does this with a diplomat when he receives the bill to expel Bob Arnold.
    George Bush: Okay, this should make my bosses very happy.
    Diplomat: Your bosses?
    George Bush: Yep. All 250 million of them.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Simpsons arrive at the airport where they see a chauffeur holding a sign that reads: "Simpson". Homer then says: "Look, Marge, that guy has the same last name we do!" and hails a taxi instead.
  • Corrupt Politician: Bob Arnold. He takes a bribe to demolish the forest that inspired Lisa's essay, and is willing to allow oil drilling on Teddy Roosevelt's head. Though that second one was a sting operation to have him arrested.
  • Dude Where Is My Respect: When Lisa tries to ask Thomas Jefferson's monument for advice, Jefferson feels angry because, compared to Lincoln, nobody visits him. Then, in a Sarcasm Mode, he starts naming all the so-called "unimportant things" he did for the United States.
  • Eagle Land: Zigzagged. The members of government can be corrupt, but Lisa's essay, even though it causes her to lose a contest, is what ends exposing Arnold, showing that people can bring down corrupt forces.
  • Genre Savvy: After Marge suggests that Bart should also take part in the essay contest, Bart pointedly says that "[they] both know that [Lisa] the pony to bet on".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Marge snickers at the phallic shape of the Washington Monument. Homer tells Marge to "grow up".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Homer says: "Oh, Marge, cartoons don't have any deep meaning. They're just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh." Then he rises from his chair and reveals his rear cleavage.
  • Naked on Arrival: The Simpsons visit the White House, where they see Barbara Bush taking a bath. At first, she is startled, but then she just starts guiding them about the room.
  • Not So Above It All: The Getting Crap Past the Radar moment mentioned above.
  • Shattering the Illusion: Lisa arrives in Washington to show off her patriotic pride with an essay, but loses faith in the American way when she witnesses a senator taking a bribe. Poor girl.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title is this to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The plot is similar too, with Lisa being a patriotic idealist as she enters Washington, becoming disillusioned when she witnesses the corruption there. Just like Mr. Smith, she goes to the Lincoln Memorial to ask him for advice and then uses her talents to criticize the system, which does result in the arrest of the corrupt people she witnessed.
    • The Simpsons stay in the Watergate Hotel and visit the IRS Building, the National Air and Space Museum, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol and the Winifred Beecher Howe Memorial.
    • Ted Kennedy can be seen at the contest.
    • The satirical pianist is a spoof of Mark Russell.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Invoked metaphorically by Lisa in her essay "Cesspool on the Potomac", where — after witnessing the corruption in the U.S. Senate — she compares the stink of the swamp Washington D.C. was built on with the stink of corruption that fills it now.
    "The city of Washington was built on a stagnant swamp some 200 years ago and very little has changed. It stank then and it stinks now."
  • Thomas Jefferson: Lisa visits his monument.
    • Take That!: In an (imaginary) conversation, the statue rants about how the Lincoln Memorial is constantly crowded, and about how people care more about Lincoln than about him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: After one of the judges suspects Homer of helping Lisa with her essay, she asks him if he's interested in politics or anything for that matter. After Homer shrugs it off with the words "I don't know", the judge asks him to touch his nose with his eyes closed, which Homer fails to do. Twice! (Before speaking to Homer, the judge suspected he had been giving Lisa help. After speaking to Homer, she considered giving Lisa extra points for doing so well despite him.)
  • Vacation Episode: The Simpsons travel to Washington D.C.