Useful Notes: Bill Clinton
"I feel your pain."
"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (August 19, 1946-) was formerly the 42nd President of the United States (1993-2001). Still alive, he served between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He was the first president to be born after World War II and the first Democrat elected to two terms since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Clinton presidency is most well-known for a prosperous economy and for his impeachment by a Republican-controlled Congress. Born in Arkansas as William Jefferson Blythe III, Clinton’s father died in a car accident just months before his birth, and he was raised by his mother and grandmother. His mother Virginia Kelley remarried in 1950 to an abusive alcoholic, Roger Clinton, Sr., who died in 1967. From a young age, Clinton showed an interest in music and politics. Clinton learned to play the saxophone, and he also joined several political clubs in high school. In 1963, he met and shook hands with John F. Kennedy at the White House, and the photograph of this moment was constantly used during his campaigns. The Civil Rights Movement was a hot topic in the South while he was a young man, and, even though he went to a segregated high school, he supported the black activists and even memorized King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. During college, he protested The Vietnam War, and to this day many critics claimed that he used loopholes to avoid the draft.note He transferred to Yale Law School, earning a degree in 1973, and also met a beautiful young woman named Hillary. They married in 1975 and had a daughter, Chelsea, five years later. After briefly working as a law professor, Clinton began to make a name for himself in state politics. He ran for the House of Representatives in 1974, narrowly losing to the incumbent, and then served two years as the state’s Attorney General. In 1978, he was elected Governor of Arkansas, becoming the youngest governor in the country at only 32 years old, but he made a number of unpopular decisions and lost reelection two years later. And then, another two years later, he won a second term by moving more towards the political center, and he remained governor until after winning the presidency 10 years later. Clinton used these experiences to realize that the Democrats' usual left-leaning policies were losing popularity, and he became part of a group of party leaders who moved the party more towards a center-left position. He skillfully managed to balance traditional Democratic beliefs, such as help for minorities and aid for welfare and education, with Reagan era support for the middle class and economic growth. In 1988, he delivered the official nomination speech for that year’s presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis. The speech was a famous failure, with Clinton bumbling through and going almost twice over the scheduled length. People at the convention actually booed him. Luckily, this incident did not hurt him in the long run, and he announced he was running for his party’s nomination in the next election. He pretty easily won the party ticket, and it also seemed that voters didn’t care about the accusations of womanizing, pot smoking, and draft dodging.note The economy was in a recession that year and deficits were skyrocketing, and incumbent George H.W. Bush ran a very weak campaign. It also helped that a third party nominee, Ross Perot, won almost 19% of the popular vote, taking away many votes from Bush. With his smooth performances in the debates, Clinton easily won an Electoral College landslide despite only winning 43% of the popular vote. The Democrats also kept majorities in both chambers of Congress. After 12 straight years of Republicans in the White House (24 if you don’t count Jimmy Carter’s brief and troubled single term), Clinton managed to bring the Democrats their first major victory in a long time and, by moving them to the center, saved them from accusations of losing touch with voters. Al Gore was his Vice President for both terms. He quickly began to try to implement his campaign promises of political reform and turning around the economy. There were some noteworthy successes, namely raising taxes and decreasing spending in order to lower the deficits, imposing a five-day wait period on the purchase of firearms, instituting the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the military (a compromise measure where gays are permitted to serve if they don’t come out), and mandating that employers give their workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical and family emergencies. Clinton also supported the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and it passed with most of his own party voting against it. Several important government positions were filled by women, such as Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Hillary also played a prominent role in his administration. However, Clinton suffered a major political defeat on his most important campaign promise: universal healthcare. Hillary was placed in charge of the task force writing the bill, which was done almost entirely behind closed doors, and Republicans and medical companies blasted the proposed program as soon as it reached Congress. In the end, the massive and incomprehensible plan, unpopular with the public, was never passed by Congress. Meanwhile, the Republicans effectively organized themselves against Clinton. Under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, the party launched a “Contract with America” campaign promising to fight back against the perceived attempts to change traditional American lifestyles under Clinton and the Democrats. The Democrats lost both chambers of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, the first time Republicans controlled both chambers in 40 years, and Gingrich became Speaker of the House. This, coupled with the failed healthcare legislation, seemed to doom Clinton to losing reelection in 1996. The Republicans were relentless in their criticism of Clinton, losing no chance to find the slightest hint of scandal within his administration and attacking him both on a political level and on a personal level. However, the Republicans overstepped their bounds in the party offensive, and many voters felt Clinton was a victim of nonsensical attacks from an unruly party. Additionally, Gingrich’s suggestions of dismantling too many regulations and sending poor children to orphanages shocked a lot of people. Finally, at the end of 1995, a disagreement over the yearly budget led to a government shutdown for nearly a month. This ended up backfiring on the Republicans, and they were blamed for giving Clinton an “all or nothing” message and not giving him the chance to compromise. In the end, Clinton’s budget plan was passed by Congress, and they faced a humiliating defeat just as Clinton had less than two years prior. The White House website was launched in 1994, shortly before the Republican Revolution occured, during his first term in his office. Clinton smartly moved more toward the center during all of this and managed to convince the majority of the American public that the Republican Congress was to blame for all of this partisan nonsense. He took on a number of important conservative measures, such as signing the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited the federal definition of marriage to 1-man-1-woman (he regretted this move after leaving office), and reducing the number of immigrants allowed to enter each year. The most important was passing a welfare reform bill supported by both parties, which required welfare recipients to find jobs within two years and creating Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). All of this, along with his good media image, made Clinton look like a moderate dragged down by an unruly Congress. It also helped that the economy underwent a major economic turnaround during his first term, with unemployment shrinking, stocks skyrocketing, and deficits decreasing each year. Pretty much everyone was satisfied with the state of the economy, and Clinton received most of the praise. He also employed smarter crime-fighting tactics than the previous two administrations, and crime rates in America went down for the first time in decades. While in 1994 everyone thought Clinton would lose reelection, he won a second term in a landslide, with more than 200 votes in the Electoral College than opponent Bob Dole. Congress was still in Republican hands, though. The economy continued to boom for his second term. For eight straight years under Clinton, the economy grew without a single real interruption, unemployment reached a low point of 3.8% (the lowest since 1969), home ownership peaked, and wages doubled. He was helped in his last few years by the “dot-com bubble,” which saw the Dow Jones surpass 10,000 for the first time. Crime rates continued to plummet, and when he left office they were about 40% lower than at the beginning of his presidency. He also passed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), extending health coverage to millions of children from poor families. Most important of all, he oversaw three straight years of budget surpluses from 1998 to 2000, the first surpluses since the days of Calvin Coolidge. Given the state of the economy, Clinton had a higher approval rating when he left office than any other President had when exiting the White House; only Roosevelt, who died in office rather than leaving it, had a higher rating during his last poll. He also took on some suggestions from the Republican Party to maintain his moderate image, the most notable being the deregulation of the banks. In hindsight, this was actually a very bad idea, resulting in so many bank mergers that it created the “too big to fail” banks of the 2000’s. The Glass-Steagall Act was also repealed, which meant that banks could now use government loans for risky investments. Clinton has since recognized that this was one of many causes of the Great Recession and admits responsibility. He also gave a number of controversial end-of-term pardons before leaving office, with most of the recipients being party allies.note Unfortunately for Clinton, the Republicans were still just as determined to bring down the President using any means necessary. They went after any possible controversy which could result in their goal of impeaching Clinton and removing him from office, which they felt would ensure their victory in the 2000 election. Ken Starr, a famous lawyer, was hired by Republicans to investigate his alleged wrongdoings. The first major controversy was the Whitewater scandal, based on allegations of unscrupulous business practices surrounding a failed real estate venture, but the accusations were dismissed. A woman named Paula Jones accused him of sexual harassment, but the lawsuit was dismissed. Finally, in 1998, they received word that Clinton had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky while in office, and Clinton went on air to deny these charges. Later that year, though, it was revealed that she did perform oral sex on him in the Oval Office, and he lied under the assumption that oral sex didn’t count (in fact, legally speaking, only sexual intercourse counts in the District of Columbia, so he didn’t lie; yes, this is the worst Loophole Abuse you have ever heard). The House voted to impeach Clinton under allegations of lying under oath and perjury, making him the second President impeached, the first being Andrew Johnson. Like Johnson, he was acquitted. It turns out that the majority of the public didn’t feel this was grounds for removal from office, and, satisfied with the economic performance, did not want to see Clinton leave. In the end, the Republicans failed to win a two-thirds majority needed, Clinton survived this humiliating scandal, and he remained in office. It is also usually agreed that this helped prevent Gore from winning the presidency when he ran in 2000. After leaving office, he made a deal where he’d suspend his Arkansas state law license for five years in order for prosecution charges to be dropped. Despite crime rates going down each year, domestic violence remained a huge concern during the Clinton years. This is the point when the word “terrorism” truly became a common word in the American vocabulary. During his first year in office, the World Trade Center was bombed by Al-Qaeda, resulting in 6 deaths and over 1,000 injuries, and they bombed American embassies in East Africa in 1998. While the War on Terror is generally associated with George W. Bush, it really began on Clinton’s watch, and he tried to capture Osama bin Laden. At the time, conservative critics accused him of using them to distract the public from his scandals; after 9-11, they made a U-turn and accused him of not doing enough. Clinton ordered the bombing of what was believed to be a chemical weapons factory for Al-Qaeda in Sudan, but this turned out to be a pharmaceutical factory and countless people in the country were without medicine. At home, there was the infamous Waco Siege in Texas, which resulted in 76 deaths. In 1995, a building in Oklahoma City was bombed, killing 168 people and injuring over 600, making this the worst domestic terrorist act in American history. The Columbine school shooting, perhaps the most infamous (yet) in American history, happened in 1999. Clinton is generally held to be a minor foreign policy President. His foreign policy was generally based around economically tying the country to others and increasing international trade; he normalized trade relations with China in 2000 and prevented Mexico’s economy from collapsing in 1995. Deals were made with Boris Yeltsin to help smooth over post-Cold War relations, but these aren’t particularly notable. He helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement to solve The Troubles in 1998, which were successful, and he presided over the Oslo Accords in an attempt to solve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, but these sadly failed once the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister renewed tensions. When he entered office, American troops were in Somalia in an attempt to deliver food to civilians during a civil war, but the Americans troops were brutally attacked and killed and he had them withdrawn. This led to America pretty much ignoring the Rwanda genocide in 1994 out of fear of something similar happening, for which he is still widely criticized. American forces were sent to Haiti in 1994 to return the country’s President to power after a military coup. In 1998, the US and the UK bombed military targets in Iraq after Saddam Hussein stopped complying with United Nations weapons inspectors, and his administration enforced worldwide embargoes of the country which led to nearly a million Iraqis dying of starvation. His greatest accomplishments were his interventions in The Yugoslav Wars, bombing Serbia in 1995 and in 1999 to protect Bosnia and Kosovo, respectfully, and sending NATO troops to end the fighting. He’s still beloved in both countries over there for this. Since leaving office, he has become an acclaimed public speaker and charity organizer. Clinton had perhaps the widest range of satirical portrayals of any president. At the beginning his comedic persona was that of a hickish southerner; a "Bubba" who enjoyed too much fast food and was out of his league in Washington. As his presidency went on, parodies increasingly played upon a "Slick Willie" portrayal, a fast-talker in both the situation room and the bedroom, able to invoke Refuge in Audacity to barrel through scandals with his popularity rating remaining high. He is currently largely known in media parody/satire for his playing of the saxophone and perpetually groping his interns thanks to all those sex scandals. Given the masterful use of Weasel Words during the Lewinsky scandal (including the legendary "that depends on what you definition of the word 'is' is"), he also has a reputation of being able to talk his way out of anything. Despite his sex scandal, he was actually one of the most popular presidents among women, due to a number of policies that were generally acclaimed as feminist. Also, due to her own involvement in politics, Hillary Clinton has perhaps been the target of more satire than any other First Lady: most of these satires played up her own Lady Macbeth nature and the notion of a "Faustian Deal" with her husband wherein she would stay with him, no matter how many affairs he might have, in exchange for helping her achieve political power in her own right. Hillary ran for the Democratic Party nomination in 2008, but narrowly lost to Barack Obama, who proceeded to ally with her and appoint the former senator as his Secretary of State. Long before Hillary announced she would attempt once again to run in the 2016 presidential race on April 2015, speculation arose in the media as to what title he would hold (First Gentleman, First Dude, First Laddie, among others) if she actually became the next Commander In Chief.
Tropes that feel your pain:
- Abusive Parents/Wicked Stepfather: His stepfather was an alcoholic gambler who abused his mother and half-brother.
- Adam Westing: Produced a video about his "lame-duck" period.
- Adorkable: His daughter Chelsea was very much this during his years in power. Buzzfeed posted a photo essay counting the ways.
- Word of God says that her Secret Service codename "Energy" came from how she was unable to sit still for any period of time (with pictures of her doing ballet behind Bill while he golfs proving the point). It Makes Sense in Context considering how Bill's half-brother Roger, who was always getting into legal trouble, was codenamed "Headache".
- Adventure Duo: Clinton and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Chretien was The Lancer to Clinton's The Hero.
- And a Diet Coke: Truth in Television — came back to bite him when it was discovered he had advanced coronary disease and needed urgent bypass surgery.
- Badass: As a kid, he repeatedly intervened with threats of violence to protect his mom and brother from his aforementioned Wicked Stepfather.
- Berserk Button: Clinton really let Jerry Brown have it during the Illinois primary for involving Hilary in Brown's accusations of corruption.
- Big Eater: Before his heart surgery.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Clinton's presidency, especially his second term, seemed to be completely marked by endless amounts of scandals and the president himself being in and out of courtrooms on a daily basis, but it never seemed to effect his popularity, even during his impeachment, to leave office with an approval rating near 70%. As he was leaving office, CNN did a poll where, amongst other questions, it asked "Is Bill Clinton honest and trustworthy?" 58% of respondents, a large portion of whom were self-proclaimed Clinton supporters, answered that he is not. ABC news summed up the general public opinion of Clinton as, "You can't trust him, he's got weak morals and ethics – and he's done a heck of a good job." Seems that the majority of the American people were willing to put aside their misgivings about his character and look past his tabloid-bait personal life simply because they felt he was doing that good of a job. Now if his job performance would have been in question when the scandals came to light, things would have likely been different.
- The Chessmaster: When Clinton was impeached over the Lewinsky scandal, he successfully managed to portray it as nothing more than his political rivals being willing to go to any lengths to undermine him. Public opinion eventually came around to his side: his approval ratings skyrocketed, the Republicans lost many congressional seats in the 1998 midterm elections, and he was acquitted and allowed to serve out his term. To top it off, the resultant fallout of public opinion towards the Republican Party led to Newt Gingrich, the driving force behind Clinton's impeachment, to resign as Speaker of the House.
- This could be applied to how Clinton evaded all of the scandals his rivals brought against him during his Presidency.
- Chubby Chaser: Often painted as this in the media, sometimes overlapping with a fondness for big butts (due to owning an office in Harlem). A lot of comedians and satirists got mileage out of Lewinsky's fuller figure.
- Coattail-Riding Relative: Bill's half-brother Roger; whose Secret Service codename was, appropriately, "Headache".
- Conspiracy Theory: A ton of conspiracy theories persist around the FBI's raid on David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound in 1993. A lot of this is based on the frequent debate of whether it was the FBI or the Branch Davidians who fired the first shots. Other suspected culprits are Janet Reno and the ATF as a whole. (The agency had been angling for increased funding, and even dubbed the raid "Operation Showtime.")
- In the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine, Marilyn Manson accused the Clinton administration of helping to manufacture controversy around his music, especially in the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine high school massacre, to distract the public from the Lewinsky scandal and the embarrassing Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory bombing.note
- "Clinton Dead Friends" and "Clinton Body Count" lists tying Clinton to dozens of deaths have been around since the mid 90s. The most famous of these would have to be Vince Foster, a fundraiser and White House lawyer who was found dead in an apparent suicide during an ethics investigation of his office.
- Clinton has also been accused of running drugs through the Mena airport in northwest Arkansas as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. Many of the deaths on "Clinton Body Count" lists are of people who got mixed up in the Northwest Arkansas drug trade, or their friends.
- Controversy-Proof Image: The EPITOME of this trope, which earned him the nickname "Slick Willie". Many of the scandals brought against Clinton could have (or have) ended the career of any lesser politician. However, Clinton navigated them relatively unscathed and continues to maintain large popularity among the American people. His approval rating leaving office was over 60% and today he is considered to be one of the most popular politicians in America; indeed he is about as well-liked among modern Democrats as a similarly slick 1980s president who got by all his political enemies is among modern Republicans.
- Cool Old Guy: He most definitely became this in his post-White House years.
- Creator Couple: With Hillary, who has had a political career as illustrious as her husband's. They're probably the most dramatic illustration of this trope in the history of American politics.
Bill: "For twenty years, we've gone where I wanted to go and done what I wanted to do.... Now I'll give her the next twenty years. And if I'm still alive after that, we'll fight over the rest."
- Dead Guy Junior: Before his mother remarried, he was named William Jefferson Blythe IV, after his Disappeared Dad William Jefferson Blythe III.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Bill Clinton is good friends with George H.W. Bush. They frequently, and consistently, do fundraising tours together for important humanitarian causes, most notably during the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. By contrast, Clinton has never really been on good terms with Jimmy Carter.
- Similar things could be said about Clinton and Newt Gingrich. Gingrich spent his time as Speaker trying to undermine Clinton and push him from power, eventually falling from power himself when Clinton turned the tables on him during the Lewinsky scandal. Fast forward to 2011, when Gingrich is back in the news with his (eventually failed) bid to become the Republican nominee in the 2012 presidential election; Clinton was surprisingly friendly towards Gingrich's campaign, describing his proposed policies as agreeable conservative alternatives to the Obama administration's policies.
- Disappeared Dad: Bill's father died in a car accident three months before his son was born.
- Exact Words: During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton was asked whether he had "had sexual relations" with her, and he responded with "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." It was then revealed that he got a blowjob from her. At the time, the laws of the District of Columbia did not classify this as 'sexual relations'.
- Fire-Forged Friends: with George W. Bush in their post-presidential years.
- Fountain of Expies: For many people, Clinton humanized the presidency and brought a younger, more dynamic energy to it; it's not surprising that fictional presidents became the main character of movies like Air Force One and The American President during his tenure. Both of those movies, not coincidentally, had presidents with a single young daughter, as did Independence Day. The West Wing had a president with three daughters, but the college-aged Zoe, roughly the same age as Chelsea Clinton when the show premiered in 1999, was by far the most prominent.
- Friendly Enemy: Despite being from opposite parties, the similarities in background between him and Newt Gingrich (both were born to working-class families, they both grew up without their birth fathers—Clinton's father died before he was born, Gingrich's divorced his mother within days of his birth—their stepfathers had adopted them, and both are Southerners) meant that they could discuss issues in a friendly atmosphere (well, relatively speaking, anyway).
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: He's very popular in Kosovo for defending them from the Serbs in 1999.
- Happily Married: With Hillary, though it was touch-and-go for a bit there.
- Iconic Item: His saxophone. Sometimes paired with Cool Shades.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With his predecessor George H.W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the latter who Clinton became particularly close to during his years in power.
- Irony: The Lewinsky scandal was intended to be Clinton's downfall. Instead, it led to the downfall of opposition leader Newt Gingrich.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Some of the Secret Service codenames for Bill and his family. His daughter Chelsea was codenamed "Energy" because of her inability to sit still for any period of time, while his half-brother Roger was codenamed "Headache" because he was always getting into legal trouble.
- Jerk Ass: His opponents see him as this in light of his alleged womanizing, shady business dealings, and ordered bombing of the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant.
- Kicked Upstairs/Reassignment Backfire: Come 1996, White House staffers were becoming concerned that intern Monica Lewinsky was becoming too "close" to president Clinton and, hoping to prevent another Gennifer Flowers-esque sex scandal from happening and plaguing his 1996 reelection campaign like it did his 1992 campaign, scrambled to transfer her to a meaningless spot at The Pentagon as that was the furthest they could get her away from Clinton. Backfired big time, as at The Pentagon she befriended Linda Tripp, whom she confessed the affair with Clinton to. Tripp would take this information to Ken Starr, and the Lewinsky scandal was blown wide open, leading to Clinton's impeachment.
- Kick the Dog: Although an unintentional one. He ordered the Navy to destroy Sudan's only pharmaceutical plant, causing a humanitarian crisis in one of the poorest nations on earth, because he thought (wrongly) that it was producing chemical arms. The strike also killed a nightwatchman, not to mention putting the kibosh on one of the country's only large employers. Whoops.
- His refusal to send troops into Rwanda to stop the genocide, fearing a repeat of the Somalia disaster. He has since apologized for this in 2004.
- Leitmotif: "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow..."
- Life Imitates Art: During the height of the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton learned of some suspected al-Qaeda locations and ordered cruise missile strikes to destroy them. However, this was shortly after the movie Wag The Dog was released, depicting a President who starts a war to distract from a raging sex scandal. Commentators and Republican opponents were eager to make the connection. Became Hypocritical Humor after 9/11 when those same commentators and Republicans (in many cases, the exact same people) accused Clinton of not doing enough about al-Qaeda.
- Love at First Sight: He took one look at Hillary and promptly forgot his own name.
- Memetic Mutation: Not inhaling.
- Memetic Sex God:
Hillary: "How could you get me pregnant, you idiot! This will wreck my career! You've ruined my life!"
- Old joke: "The Washington Post recently did a telephone poll of women in the D.C. area, asking 'Would you have sex with Bill Clinton?' 67% replied 'Never again.'"
- Older joke. Hillary is pregnant and furiously calls her husband:
Bill "Who is this?"
- Even older joke: Four former presidents are transported to the land of Oz. Upon meeting the Wizard, Richard Nixon requests a heart; Jimmy Carter then steps forward and asks for some courage, and George Bush Sr., a brain. Once the others have received their gifts, Bill Clinton steps forward and sheepishly asks, "...is Dorothy here?"
- One slightly more recent joke: Bill Clinton goes for a jog around his neighbourhood one morning, where he stumbles upon a prostitute. "Hello, handsome." he says to her, "How much will half an hour cost with you?". Unenthused, she answers "Twenty bucks." But Clinton tries to bargain, "How about... five bucks?" "Forget it. Twenty, take it or leave it." the prostitute maintains. "Fine. I'll suit myself." Clinton snorts and jogs on. The next day, he's jogging again, but this time with Hillary. As they round the same corner again, he once again comes across yesterday's prostitute. "Ha!" she mocks him as he jogs past her stoically, "See what ya get for five bucks?!"
- My Greatest Failure: His inaction during the Rwanda genocide was so outrageous, the man himself ended up feeling it was his worst mistake of his presidency.
- Never Live It Down: The Lewinsky scandal. ** Recently, he has admitted that his anti-crime policies have done harm by focusing on incarceration instead of rehabilitation.More seriously, his administration's actions during the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ordered an attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, Al-Shifa, on the dubious claims of the factory having chemical weapons. The factory was a principal source of Sudan's anti-malaria and veterinary drugs, and its destruction indirectly saw thousands die from diseases that could not be countered. Whoooops.
- Nice to the Waiter: Clinton, whose parents both worked low-paid service jobs, ALWAYS makes a point of going back to the kitchens after public appearances to chat with the staff, thank them for their work, and offer pictures and autographs. This was the reason Mitt Romney's "47%" speech was leaked by the bartender in 2012, since he remembered being treated well by Clinton in contrast with Romney's dismissive attitude that evening.
- Old Shame: He's made clear that he greatly regrets his part in the passage of DOMA.
- He regrets the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which helped trigger the 2008 recession.
- Recently, he has admitted that the anti-crime bills he signed into law, like the infamous "three strikes" clause, have done harm by focusing on incarceration rather than rehabilitation
- One of Us: He's a Rhodes Scholar, for Pete's sake, and according to his family and friends, he's always got at least two books he's working on reading through at a time. In more than one way: he appeared on Wait Wait Dont Tell Me and was asked three questions about the show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. He got every one correct.
- Our Presidents Are Different: Practically the Trope Codifier for the President Playboy variant.
- Photographic Memory: He's been known to be able to flawlessly remember in things in minute detail, even phone numbers and entire speeches from decades previous. This ability helped him more than once during teleprompter malfunctions.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: He did not. Have. Sexual. Relations. With. That. Woman.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Toni Morrison didn't call him "The first Black President" for nothing, You know.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red Oni to George H.W. Bush's Blue Oni in the 1992 presidential election, and in his presidency, the Red Oni to Al Gore's Blue Oni.
- Rousing Speech: Recognized as one of the better public speakers out there. Tends to deliver these on a regular basis.
- His 2012 Democratic Convention speech re-nominating Obama was hailed as a classic within minutes of his finishing it.
- Subverted with the keynote speech - an assignment given to rising stars within a party - he delivered at the 1988 Convention. He went over by an hour and was booed for it, dooming his future in the ranks. Clinton had to go onto the Tonight Show to apologize.
- Scandalgate: The Monica Lewinsky scandal became known as Monicagate / Zippergate. Called "Tailgate" by The Daily Show.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: In the 1998 State of the Union address he endorsed uniforms in American public schools (which traditionally don't have them). Short-term, it bought him a full week of late night Talk Show jokes about teenage "interns" in plaid skirts; long-term, Chris Matthews in particular is fond of bringing it up as a classic example of a Presidency that had run out of big ideas and grand plans.
- She Is All Grown Up: His daughter Chelsea.◊ Guess it's a sort-of Take That to the cruel journalists that mocked the poor girl's looks when she was growing up.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: His initial claim of not having "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky which many took as the truth, but only if you have a very narrow definition of the term. Or a very legal definition of the term. Under the laws of Washington D.C. at the time of his testimony, oral sex was not legally considered "sexual relations". Thus, Clinton's statement, while untrue by any standard of common sense you wish to use, was perfectly accurate and truthful under the law and thus not perjury at all, despite accusations to the contrary.
- "I did not have sexual relations with THAT woman... Ms. Lewinsky." It's like he had to remind himself just who he was talking about.
- Windbag Politician: How Clinton first became well known to the nation; thanks to a lengthy keynote speech during the 1988 Democratic convention prior to the speech by 1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.
- You Are What You Hate: His administration was part of the Drug War cracking down on marijuana even though Clinton had used pot when he was younger (as noted above).
"'I smoked pot, but I did not inhale.' What does that mean? ...brownies! Look at his waistline!"
- Bill Hicks cracked the case:
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Anime & Manga
- In the dub of Azumanga Daioh, Osaka tells Chiyo-Dad that he looks "kinda like that American man, Bill Clinton." (In the original Japanese, it was Yoshiro Mori, an unpopular prime minister.) He does not react positively to this.
- One of the Golgo 13 stories features Bill Clinton... having smiley sex in the Oval Office.
- As usual, his image is usually the President in most 1990s comics. He specifically spoke at the Funeral of Superman in 1993.
- Stars as a major character in the limited series Resurrection, in which aliens invade Earth in late May 1998...and occupy Earth for almost 10 years before mysteriously withdrawing in late 2007. Clinton—now a depressed former President—ends up traveling with the main characters across post-invasion America. There are also several flashbacks to the last days of the Clinton administration during the 3-day period where the aliens were first arriving. Since Clinton has legally not been the President since January 20, 2001 and since everyone else in the Presidential line of succession is either missing or dead or so it seems initially and obviously no election was held during the alien occupation, one of the major plot points is the question of who is legally the President and whether or how the government (and many other institutions) will continue in the aftermath of the almost decade-long occupation.
- Ultimate X-Men states that Clinton was bullied into giving the okay for Bolivar Trask to begin the Sentinel Initiative project. It wasn't until Bush's administration (in-universe) that they were actually activated, however, and Bush was a lot less bothered by them.
- In The Beverly Hillbillies '93 movie, it's implied he's actually related to the Clampetts. They were all from Arkansas, you see.
- Appeared in Beavis And Butthead Do America.
- The plot of 2001: A Space Travesty revolves around rescuing Bill Clinton and his saxophone from alien kidnappers.
- In the film The Special Relationship (broadcast on HBO in 2010), he's played by Dennis Quaid. The film is about the relationship between him and Tony Blair.
- Was the President in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
- He was digitally edited into the White House scenes in Contact. There was controversy over this at the time, as the White House had not authorized the filmmakers to use the footage of the president.
- Chancellor Valorum from The Phantom Menace was inspired by George Lucas' view of him at the time: a well-meaning leader unable to assert any control over his legislative branch.
- Stock footage of Clinton is used in the opening sequence of The Siege
- Jack Stanton in the Roman à Clef novel Primary Colors is based on Clinton. In the film adaptation, Stanton is played by John Travolta.
- Another No Celebrities Were Harmed version in the military novel Storming Heaven. The Not-At-All-President-Clinton is a military ignoramus who puts up with a shrewish wife. There's even a vague Whitewater reference.
Live Action TV
- Saturday Night Live originally cast Phil Hartman as a folksy, oblivious President Clinton who was eternally cheating on his diet, particularly in a sketch featuring Clinton stopping at a McDonald's and eating everybody's food. Darrell Hammond took over following Hartman's departure from the show; the skits became widely popular, catapulting Hammond from B-List status and rivaling even Dana Carvey's memorable turn as President Bush. Clinton 2.0 was more of a Memetic Badass and Pornomancer. Witness his response to being acquitted:
- Conan O Brien had "Clinton" on as a regular guest, voiced by Robert Smigel (the madman behind SNL's TV Funhouse). This particular Clinton's hormones were jacked Up to Eleven, as were his redneck mannerisms. (See also his Tv Funhouse entry below)
- Clinton's most famous television appearance was on The Arsenio Hall Show, where he performed with his much-parodied saxophone.
- He appears as a guest saxophonist in the New Labour Rock Band on Bang Bang It's Reeves And Mortimer.
- A Rory Bremner special from 2000 had Clinton planning to go into space and seek out alien life forms after his term was up, and took Tony Blair with him. Like a lot of British satire from this period, it emphasized the idea that Clinton and Blair were best friends forever — which of course is Hilarious in Hindsight given Blair's later relationship with George W. Bush.
- One episode of Quantum Leap featured a moment when Sam was about to go on stage at an "amateur hour" talent show — and the act he was following was sax player "Little Billy C from Hope, Arkansas" complete with dark suit and shades.
- Another Ersatz version in Sunset Beach, Aaron Spelling's stab at the daytime block. Sara Cummings is introduced as an ex-paramour of "Bob Blythe", womanizing Congressman. She turns up wearing the trademark Lewinski beret/dress combonote and trying to hide from the paparazzi, led by the wiretapper Miranda Fall (Tripp) and Prosecutor Kendell Moon (Starr). These are thinner, attractive versions of the originals, mind.
- BEST. PRESIDENT. EVER.
- He's a secret character in NBA Jam. Really.
- His cat, Socks, almost had his own game for the Super Nintendo, but was canceled last minute when the developer went bankrupt.
- The unnamed president in Jungle Strike clearly resembles him.
- Unnamed? Heck, the game even credits him by name!◊
- The president and his family in Silent Scope closely resemble Hillary, Chelsea, and himself. Not to mention that the penultimate boss who's holding the president captive is named Monica.
- Obliquely referenced in the original Grand Theft Auto title. In an optional mission, the First Lady is said to be touring the Vice City hospital which Deever, the cartoonishly evil ex-cop, instructs you to blow up. His motive? Well, she didn't answer his fan mail. In another mission, the Rastafarians dispatch you to attack a "Babylonian" army that turns out to be the presidential motorcade (good luck surviving this mission; it is impossible).
- In keeping with its animal metaphors, he's said in Kevin & Kell to be a rabbit. Ken Starr? A wolf. The title couple have a chuckle over the idea.
- The Lewinsky scandal makes a few appearances in Ozy and Millie; Millie tries using the Starr report as an excuse for colourful metaphors in a report, and she ends up getting a lecture from her mother about media glut when she uses 'Lewinsky' to inspire a spit-take. (Ozy tries this on his father, but has to rely on "Teapot Dome".)
- Was mentioned in Ansem Retort, after Zexion revealed part of the reason he slept with the Jail Bait Namine was to get into Clinton's Sex Scandal Poker Game. Namine is surprised that Bill Clinton runs such a game. Then Zex reveals he's not talking about Bill Clinton...
- In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, an Alternate History scenario about a different 1972 election, both Bill and Hillary appear as Young Future Famous People, being legal interns during the impeachment of President Spiro Agnew. Later, Bill Clinton serves as a military attorney in Syria with the rank of captain, and is involved in a battle with insurgents, along with Lt. David Petraeus and Private Bruce Willis. His experiences there encourage him to successfully run for Congress...as a Republican.
- In the early days of The Salvation War, The Legions of Hell tried to seduce Bill with an illusion-generating succubus. He promptly saw right through her and killed the monster with a shotgun, claiming that he could identify soul-sucking demons due to being with Hillary for so long.
- In Rejection And Revenge: The premise of this AlternateHistory.com story is Osama Bin Laden detonating three nukes in Lower Manhattan, Las Vegas, and Century City, on February 11, 1993. Entering his first term desiring the fix the economy, he finds himself drawn into a war kicking and screaming, seeking the advice of Richard Nixon and George HW Bush and after an Al-Qaeda operative who was caught trying to blow up Tel Aviv fingers Hezbollah, he drops nukes on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It only gets worse from there.
- The original version of the Animaniacs theme included a throwaway line about Bill playing the sax (complete with animation of him doing it).
- Clinton appeared on TV Funhouse's The X-Presidents as a wannabe recruit. The other Presidents regard him a something of a freak; his 'crime-fighting' gadgets suspiciously resemble sex toys.
- In fact, he managed to make at least one appearance in all of the Looney Tunes Expanded Universe shows in the 1990s, including Tiny Toon Adventures (in the Spring Break special), Pinky and the Brain (claiming to be the world's leader when some visiting aliens request to see said person), Freakazoid!! ("Can you tell me who's flying the plane?"), Road Rovers (where he was Hunter's owner), and Histeria (where he starred in a parody of the Beverly Hillbillies theme and got tricked into admitting he's a liar).
- He also made a second appearance in Animaniacs (with did all the presidents up to him), and two more in Pinky and the Brain one in the 1996 campaign, he loses to Pinky); the other as a Head In A Jar still serving as President, 22nd Amendment be damned. (Hillary's there, too, and still doing some of his job functions.) He also appeared in "The Pinky Protocol", where Brain tricked Gerald Ford into signing a document (the eponymous protocol) which Brain passed as something signed and filed back when Ford was the President. According to that document, if any President is caught on underwear in public, said President would be impeached and Brain, as "Harold Foster Brain", would become the new ruler of the United States. Bill's shorts from his daily exercises counted.
- The appearance in Freakazoid! where he asks who's flying the plane is actually his second appearance; his first was at Freakazoid's side when aliens landed on Earth. (The first one was really dumb, the second one only cared about Barbie.)
- Family Guy portrays him as a Lovable Sex Maniac who frequently gets naked. And he slept with Lois and Peter.
- He was portrayed on The Simpsons more than once.
- In "Weekend at Burnsie's", he was the speaker at an event before Mr. Burns.
Clinton: [to Marge] Well, I gotta go, but... look, if you're ever near the White House, there's a tool shed out back. I'm in there most of the day.
- In "Homer to the Max", Clinton dances with Marge at a garden party.
Lisa: (receiving trophy) Wow, thank you, Mr. President.Clinton: No, thank you, Lisa, for teaching kids everywhere a valuable lesson: If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true.Clinton: Hey, I'm a pretty lousy president.
- In "Saddlesore Galactica", Lisa gets outraged at how the winning school band of Ogdenville Elementary used glow sticks in their performance, even though the use of visual aids was forbidden. She writes a letter to Clinton, hoping that as a fellow saxophonist, he'd sympathize with her, and in the end, Clinton has the result overturned.
Moe: Hey Clinton! Get back to work!Clinton: Make me.(continues playing)
- In "Bart Gets an Elephant", Clinton is marching in Springfield playing the sax, much to the frustration of Moe.
- In "Large Marge", he was seen with Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush building domiciles for the destitutes. Their interaction was like The Three Stooges featuring Clinton as Curly, Carter as Larry, and Bush as Moe.
- Also, in "E Pluribus Wiggum", he was in Springfield posting signs for his wife's campaign. When she told him over the phone he needed to put 25 more signs, he asked what he did to deserve that. She told him he knew what he did and he complained she'd never let him live it down.
- In "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", he calls the winning team from the Super Bowl, but Homer answers it instead, though Clinton gets interrupted by Al Gore, who's taking measurements of the Oval Office.
- In the "Treehouse of Horror" segment "Citizen Kang", Clinton and Bob Dole (his rival candidate from the 1996 election) get kidnapped and replaced by Kang and Kodos.
- Cartman's mom slept with him on South Park to get herself the right to "abort" Eric, (she confused it with adoption).
- Clinton also appeared in an episode of Beavis And Butthead while visiting Highland High answering questions and McVicker tries to keep the titular characters away by giving them an out of school pass and fifty dollars.
- On The Critic Duke has his own theme park, dubbed "Phillipsland". At the Hall of Presidents, Clinton is replaced with one of the drunken animatronic bears from the Country Bear Jamboree. Nobody seems to notice.
Forrest: You sure like shrimp, Mr. President.
- In the fictitious Forrest Gump sequel Forrest Gump 2: Gump Harder, Forrest meets Clinton, introducing himself as the founder of Bubba Gump Shrimp, leading Clinton to list all the ways he likes shrimp, which lasts into the evening.
- Clinton's disembodied head is kept alive in a jar, along with the rest of the presidents in Futurama. He appears in the episode "A Head in the Polls", and hits on Leela.
- Appears three times on Celebrity Deathmatch.
- As a spectator during the Hillary Rodham Clinton Vs. Monica Lewinsky fight where he praises one of them before asking a woman (which turns out to be Paula Jones) to hand him a bag of peanuts which is caught in the microphone as "Would you mind grabbing my nuts?" Cue Hillary and Monica teaming up to chase him out of the arena.
- He actually fights against Kenneth Starr, winning by throwing Starr's head into the Liberty Bell.
- During the match between James Van Der Beek Vs. Saddam Hussein killed by poisoned hamburgers Saddam gave Van Der Beek as a gift.
- A skit on Robot Chicken had Clinton cut off George W. Bush for a McDonald's parking space, exclaiming that he was having a "Big Mac attack", to which Bush uses Jedi powers to toss Clinton and his car into a pool.
- On Arthur, D.W. accidentally gets separated from the Reads' White House tour group on a family trip to Washington and runs into an unnamed Funny Animal President who bears a strong resemblance to Clinton in both appearance and voice (and habits—he gets a pizza to share with D.W. while waiting for her parents to pick her up).