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Useful Notes: George W. Bush
"I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message. Now watch this drive."

"I'm the decider."

The 43rd President of the United States, in office from 2001-09. He succeeded Bill Clinton, and was succeeded by Barack Obama.

George W. "Dubya" Bush is a Republican and the son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush. He was an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team and the Governor of Texas prior to reaching the White House. Famous for his frequent malapropisms (known as Bushisms), such as "I know how hard it is to put food on your family". Ushered in a veritable golden age of political satire in America. Also "starred" in not one, but two sitcoms (That's My Bush! and Lil Bush, both on Comedy Central), which pushed satirical boundaries in doing so.

Got elected by a very narrow margin (leaving him as only the fourth person to be elected president despite not securing the highest number of votes), complete with controversy and demands for recounts; won his second election more traditionally with far less controversy (although there were several disputes over voter fraud/voter disenfranchisement). A brief policy overview: President during the September 11 terrorist attacks, ordered the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and achieved highest recorded approval ratings in the aftermath; decided to invade and occupy Iraq on grounds that proved dubious at best, the length and cost of the occupation resulted in historic low approval ratings as his second term drew to a close; invested in AIDS awareness programs in Africa, and the fledgling science of nanotechnology; signed the US out of the Kyoto accords; promoted the No Child Left Behind Act; signed the PATRIOT Act into law; oversaw tax cuts for the rich and bailoutsnote  for the big banks. Some editors would probably have some triumphant line of argument to add here in support or opposition of any of those, but they should know better.

Helped popularize the phrase, "I'm <Your Name here>, and I approve this message.", which is now standard operating procedure for political ads on TV, usually as an alternative to the "Paid for by..." voiceover.

Had a memoir released in November 2010.

Bush is one of two sons of Presidents to become President (the other being John Quincy Adams), and he is a fifth cousin four times removed of former president Franklin Pierce. He is also the first descendant of a former president to serve two terms (John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison both served one). Bush endured one assassination attempt: a guy lobbed a grenade at him while making a speech with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tblisi, but the grenade was a dud, and Dubya was completely unharmed. This makes him the first president since James Monroe elected in a year divisible by ten neither to die while in office nor to be severely injured in an assassination attempt (or, you know, actually be successfully assassinated).


George W. Bush provides examples of:

  • Arch-Enemy: Osama Bin Laden. One could argue that Michael Moore also fits this trope.
  • The Atoner: How Colin Powell claims he saw his resignation from the administration.
  • Body Guard Crush: Although she was his top diplomat, not his bodyguard, there's often speculation from some he had some... interest in Condoleezza Rice. She did call him her "husband" by accident, after all.
  • Butt Monkey: Bush was one of the least popular Presidents of the last fifty years along with Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon; his approval rating in October 2008 was a record-setting 19%. Resultantly, he was the butt of innumerable jokes in all forms of media, especially during his second term. Granted, some of it can get outta hand.
  • Catch Phrase: "Stay the course."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dick Cheney. This carries over into the Oliver Stone movie.
  • Defector from Decadence: Colin Powell sees himself as this.
  • The Determinator: George Bush, facing a very low approval rating eventually, but still continuing with what he saw as the War On Terror.
  • Disease Bleach: The stress placed on him during his presidency made him look much older by the time his presidency ended than when he was first sworn in. Unfortunately, this seems to happen to every president.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Trope Namer, either from Bush himself or Cheney.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Sometimes Condoleezza Rice gets portrayed as this trope, depending on how she gets interpreted.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Is very proud of being a Texan. Although if it matters, he was technically born in Connecticut.
  • Genius Ditz: He did graduate Yale and is the only President to have an MBA from Harvard Business school. It was once observed that his GPA at Yale was roughly equal to Al Gore's at Harvard, but certain famous misspeakings of his got him frequently lampooned as an idiot. Later it was discovered he actually got better grades than John Kerry, who was more commonly depicted as The Smart Guy in his attempt to beat Bush.

    Tony Blair says that Bush's insight was actually quite impressive during international discussions, and theorizes that Bush found it easier to talk when there wasn't as much pressure on him to look and sound presidential, which is what led to his various Bushisms. This theory has quite a bit going for it — in the famous "Now watch this drive" interview, he is obviously not enjoying himself when he has to comment about terrorists unexpectedly.
  • Generation Xerox: He is the son of 41st President George H.W. Bush.
  • Happily Married: To his wife, Laura.
  • Heroic BSOD: When an aide whispered into his ear what was happening on 9/11 while he was reading a book to schoolchildren, he understandably froze up for a few moments.
  • Hidden Depths: A recent interview with Condoleezza Rice in which she was questioned about several Republican candidate's lack of knowledge in foreign affairs revealed that when George W. Bush was running for president he was already an expert in Latin American geopolitics and spent a significant amount of time trying to catch up in the current events and history of other parts of the world of interest to the US. He is also fluent in Spanish, to the point it is joked that he can speak his second language better than his native one.
  • History Repeats: George Bush is elected to replace a popular President who has reached his term limit. Almost immediately into his Presidency, major events in foreign policy happen in quick succession, which he handles skillfully to success and high approval ratings. However, people start questioning his handling of the war in Iraq and Saddam Hussein, and when the events in foreign policy calm down and attention turns back to domestic issues, which Bush fumbles and handles lacklusterly, his popularity declines sharply. He leaves office with low approval ratings and is replaced by a young Democrat who won over the people with a skilled campaign.

    The major difference, of course, is that his dad didn't win reelection to a second term.
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not torture, it's Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Had a few moments of this; the more famous instances are calling a reporter a "world-class asshole", and telling Tony Blair to "get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit".
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Donald Rumsfeld's "known knowns" speech. When gathering military intel, there are things you know, he calls known knowns, things you don't know but you're aware you don't, he calls known unknowns, and things that take you by surprise, he calls unknown unknowns. Detractors are quick to point out the existence of "unknown knowns": information that has been gathered but has not been processed or hasn't been processed properly—e.g. because the CIA and FBI aren't talking to each other—and thus doesn't make it to the places where decisions can be made until it's too late (the most famous case of this being, of course, 9/11).
  • Kill It with Water: Waterboarding, although it doesn't usually kill the target.
  • Lighter and Softer: Got into office running as a "compassionate conservative". In retrospect, nobody likes this term. Depending on who you ask, it's either a smokescreen to get votes or a license to, well, go soft on beliefs to get votes they won't get anyway. His dad said similar things when he ran, promising a "kinder, gentler nation".
  • Malaproper: Multiple statements by him, contributing to his image as The Ditz.
  • The Man Behind the Man: There's always someone strong, within the White House, who influences the president more than others do, and you can always tell by the decisions that are made, by the directions that they go, and the way they play politics. In Bush's case, it was split between Cheney and Rove; the latter for his electoral campaigns, and the former for everything else. Later on, Bush started listening to Cheney less and less by the last two years of his presidency (he refused to pardon Scooter Libby, refused to attack Syria like Cheney wanted, and signed an order that asked for the withdrawal of Iraq troops).
  • Morality Pet: Cheney's daughter Mary.
  • The Napoleon: Portrayals of him often get into this, even though he's a little taller than the average American. The portrayal stem from some of his tics, as well as facing the even-taller John Kerry in the 2004 election.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The invasion of Iraq was supposed to be about dethroning longtime political opponent Saddam Hussein and finding weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was executed, to be sure, but there were no weapons of mass destruction found, and Iraq is actually worse off without their dictator providing electricity for the homes. Whooops.
    • The bank bailout was supposed to help the banks, whom the politicians believed were the key to economic stability, except they got bailed out with taxpayer money, and the middle class is still reeling from the resulting recession.
  • The Nicknamer: Bush was known for the many nicknames he gave people. 30 Rock parodied this in "Cooter", with the Beleaguered Bureaucrat "Cooter Burger" (real name James Riley, played by Matthew Broderick) explains how he got his name:
    Cooter: Cooter Burger? What am I, a cartoon dog? The president gave me that name! "Cooter" because I look like a turtle and "Burger" because he saw me eating a burger one time! It wasn't even a burger... it was a sandwich.
  • Only in Florida: The chaos surrounding his runoff with Al Gore was the largest example.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Appearing at the Haiti fundraiser after the 2010 earthquake to help out in the relief fund. Happened about a year after his presidency ended.
    • His campaign to combat AIDS in Africa is estimated to have helped 10 million people worldwide. Bono himself acknowledged what a kind thing this was to do.
  • The Power of Love: As mentioned above, Laura got him to sober up by forcing him to choose between her and the booze. He picked his wife.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Cheney's Blue Oni. Among his rivals, he makes a Red Oni to Gore and Kerry's Blue Oni.
  • The Rival: First Al Gore, then John Kerry.
  • The Stoic: Dick Cheney
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Condoleezza Rice
  • Super Reflexes: When he dodged that shoe.
  • Undying Loyalty: Katherine Harris, Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney (Which isn't to say Bush didn't make decisions he didn't like; he still says mostly positive things about him), and probably Condoleezza Rice.
  • The Unfavorite: The Oliver Stone movie interprets that he was this while his brother Jeb was the one his parents had high expectations for.
  • We Help the Helpless: In 2003, Bush started a campaign to support AIDS relief in Africa. $5 billion is estimated to have been donated in providing medicine and proper medical treatment to people afflicted with AIDS in Africa. It's estimated that these efforts have helped 10 million people worldwide.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: According to the movie by Oliver Stone, it is often perceived his brother Jeb was the one his father expected to get higher office. In one of Jr.'s nightmares, Dream!Poppy says, "A hundred years it took to build up the Bush name and you single-handedly destroyed it!"
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": He didn't acknowledge the Armenian Genocide so as to not upset Turkey (an ally of the United States), a policy that his successor Barack Obama has continued. To be totally fair to both Bush and Obama — and any other future American presidents — Turkey has the US by the balls on this one.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Bush was known for his loyalty to his True Companions, but this did happen in one case, with Katherine Harris. She played a controversial and important role in counting the ballots that were needed for Bush to win the 2000 election as Florida's Secretary of State. When she finally ran for Senate, the White House did not repay this favor, not giving her any support in her Senate race, and she lost it in a Curb-Stomp Battle to Bill Nelson.

George W. Bush has been portrayed in:

  • That's My Bush!
  • Lil Bush (featuring Flea as Lil' Dick Cheney!)
  • W. (Dubya), a critical (yet surprisingly sympathetic) biopic by Oliver Stone starring Josh Brolin (American Gangster, No Country for Old Men, The Goonies) as Dubya and James Cromwell (Babe, The Green Mile) as George H.W. Bush (AKA "Poppy").
  • Understandably, he's prominently featured in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
  • You're Welcome, America, a satirical Broadway play starring Will Ferrell as Dubya. Featuring a rather suggestive interpretation of Dubya and Condie Rice's relationship and Audience Participation in the form of Dubya giving people nicknames.
    • Ferrell was also the first W. Bush portrayer on Saturday Night Live, and probably the one who left the greatest impression on the public. Dubya has also been played on the show by Chris Parnell, Darrell Hammond, Will Forte, and Jason Sudeikis, at varying levels of success. Bush was, especially during the Ferrell years, portrayed as a lovably clueless yokel ("We're coming for you, bin Laden. I'm gonna make you my own personal Where's Waldo?. And unlike those frustrating Waldo books, I'm gonna find you.") with Dick Cheney (always played by Darrell Hammond) portrayed as an Evil Chancellor. Just imagine Bush and Cheney as the Sultan and Jafar from Aladdin. In the post-Ferrell years, Bush occasionally became a bit more sleazy if a sketch called for it. Incidentally, "strategery" was said by Ferrell's SNL parody of Bush rather than the real Bush.
  • Mentioned in the song "Only For Now" in Avenue Q, a rare instance of the performers expecting/encouraging a song to be interrupted (by laughter and applause); it was well-received enough that, after he left office, a contest was held for a new line, and the change was "George Bush was only for now."
    • At least one production has replaced his name with the line "GLENN BECK! is only for now!"
  • In Postal, he holds hands with Osama bin Laden, skipping towards a nuclear holocaust together.
  • Dead Ringers, 2DTV and The Impressionable Jon Culshaw, here grouped together because the portrayals were done by the same people and were very similar, portraying Bush as a malapropism-prone ("My Fellow Armadillos...") warmongering idiot who loved Sesame Street and was surrounded by hapless advisors having to explain things to him with sock puppets. The satire was, however, rather undermined by the fact that they kept reusing the same 'President Idiot' jokes from Spitting Image (then aimed at Ronald Reagan and Dan Quayle) which if anything only evoked nostalgia in a lot of the British audience.
  • Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, despite being highly critical of Homeland Security, portrayed Bush in a rather neutral (even slightly positive) light.
  • Transformers (2007) Although his face wasn't seen, he was portrayed lying down in his bed on Air Force One asking a stewardess for Ding Dongs. A character at one point notes that the whole incident could decide his presidency. Which means in movieland, George W. Bush brought us the Autobots ate snack cakes while the Decepticons attacked.
  • In The Legend of Koizumi, he's an incompetent fool for the first part of the story, looked down on by his father. In a sentence you probably didn't expect to see in your lifetime, George W Bush Took A Level In Bad Ass after Bush Sr. is killed by Nazis from the moon.
  • Seen and heard all over the place in Recount, a dramatization of the infamous Florida Recount of 2000, along with Al Gore. The two are portrayed (with great restraint) by voice-actors and body doubles until the very end, when their victory/concession speeches are played.
  • Bush appeared in the flesh during the first run of Ultimate X-Men. After unwisely ordering a strike on the Savage Land, Bush learns his lesson when Magneto strips him naked in front of the burning White House on live TV. And almost crushes him beneath his own limo.
    • One of the Bush daughters was also held hostage by Magneto, who snidely referred to her as "that human calf."
  • Bush is a fairly significant character in The Salvation War. His famous stupidity is mere obfuscating.
  • The premier episode of NCIS featured clips of Bush regularly, including a scene taking place at a speech where he only appears on the video screens and one where he boards Air Force One. The scene immediately following shows a very convincing imposter, only shown from behind, greeting some of his security personnel on the aircraft.
  • An H-Doujinshi ("Viva Freedom") showed Bush & Saddam Hussein having a three-way with "World Peace-chan".
  • Shown (among other famous people) as exemplars of facial readings on Lie to Me.
  • South Park, though often political in nature, is well known for almost never attacking politicians directly (or at the very least portraying them as just as bufoonish as all the other adults on the show). Bush and his cabinet were revealed in one episode to be eminently crafty, as they were the ones who created the 9/11 Truth movement — they wanted people to think that the government was all-seeing and all-powerful rather than inept. In other words, 9/11 wasn't a U.S. government conspiracy, but the 9/11 conspiracy theory was.
  • Eminem's song "Mosh" was during the 2004 election, with a direct address to 'Mr. President! Mr. Senator!' at the end. Throughout the song, Mr. Mathers suggests he respectfully disagrees with the President's ideas.
    • Some also accused the video of featuring a soldier leaving a photo of Bush with a knife in his head. Someone didn't do the research; it's at 2:52, and the knife is holding the photo on the wall, and not actually in Bush's head.
  • Loudness directed at least two Protest Song s at him, "Misleading Man" and "Unknown Civilians" from their album Racing, and referred to him obliquely in "The Candidate" on Pandemonium.
  • Oddly averted by The Simpsons. The same show that portrayed Homer getting into a fistfight with Bush SR. never featured any "appearances" by Dubya throughout his entire presidency. Note that every other president who was alive from the time the show began has been portrayed on The Simpsons at least once (except Barack Obama, but we're only four years into his tenure...and his wife has already had an appearance).
    • He was referenced, albeit accidentally, in the episode where Homer fights Bush Sr. In an attempt to lure Bush out of his house for a prank, Homer uses cardboard cut-outs of two men in suits on the porch that he calls "your sons, George Bush Jr and Jeb Bush!" According to Word of God, they didn't actually know about George W. at the time, and said that "George Bush Jr" was an example of Homer being Homer.
    • Homer is shown in a family photo album having a fistfight with George the Younger in the Oval Office, right after a photo of his brawl with George the Elder.
    • He was frequently referenced, however. At one point Homer referred to him as "Captain Kookoobananas."
  • Family Guy portrays him in an extremely negative light, with cutaways showing him as an idiot or a coward (trying to enlist for The Vietnam War years after it ended, hiding in a treehouse to avoid dealing with Hurricane Katrina). The harshest example would be the Season 10 episode "Back to the Pilot", where Brian prevents 9/11 by warning his 1999-era self, which results in a Post Apocalyptic Alternate Universe where Bush lost the 2004 election, lead the South in forming a new Confederacy, and started a nuclear war with the US.
    • Ironically, the closest thing to a neutral portrayal was his first, where Peter works for a tobacco company and wines and dines Bush and Gore to loosen restrictions on cigarette sales. In the DVD commentary, the writers remark that they only included him out of fairness and thought he had "no fucking way" of actually winning.
  • Appears in the American Dad! episode "Bush Comes to Dinner", where Stan wins a contest to have dinner with him. Hayley tries to destroy Bush's reputation by getting him Off The Wagon, but when he comes to her defense after Stan calls her a lost cause she changes her mind, remarking "At least he's better than Cheney." The portrayal is surprisingly sympathetic, having him be depressed over the fact that so many people hate him and wondering if he should just quit, before Stan's contest-winning speech gives him the heart to stay the course.
    • He also appears (after a fashion) in "Stan of Arabia" pulling a Big Damn Heroes and saving the Smiths from being stoned, but it turned out to be All Just a Dream, as well as the pilot where God calls him and tells him to quit mentioning his name in his speeches (followed by answering a call from Cheney with "Yes, sir?").
  • Bush goes up against an Allosaurus in the 2004 Presidential election in Irregular Webcomic!. (The Allosaurus wins.)
  • British pop duo Pet Shop Boys did a satirical love song portraying Tony Blair and George W. Bush as lovers, entitled "I'm with stupid."
  • Industrial Metal band Ministry had not one or two, but three anti-Bush albums. Not three songs, three albums
  • In A Girl and Her Fed, W. serves as the Clippy-esque avatar for a neural implant chip. Word of God claims that this isn't a reflection on his presidency per se, but that the author just liked the nickname "Bitty Bush".
  • Appears as a Young Future Famous Person in Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, an Alternate History scenario. When The Vietnam War heats up again in 1973, Bush is unable to get out of the draft as he did earlier on, and ends up in a North Vietnamese POW camp (even meeting John McCain at one point). When he's eventually released, he becomes an actor in science fiction.
  • Ozy and Millie. Llewellyn runs against him in 2000 and 2004; the 2000 strips mock the shouting around that campaign (and provide artist DC Simpson with some Old Shame). Shortly after 2000, Millie vents her feelings with a 'Mister W' sock puppet, including at one point bashing it with a ruler while disagreeing with No Child Left Behind, in a quickly-apparent short-sighted protest.
  • He also make an appearance in Marvel's Ultimates line. He asks Captain America if 21 century was "Cool or Uncool?", later, Air Force One is highjacked by supervillains, and the last thing he's seen saying is the name of his wife.
  • In the same vein, he's seen making the presentation in the Marvel's Squadron Supreme.
  • In Cage's song "Grand Ol' Party Crash", we hear several spoken interludes from "The Dubya", voiced by Jello Biafra.
  • The short-lived This Just In had an episode where the conservative main character's one-liners were eerily restated in some of Bush's speeches. In a vast departure from other humor concerning George W., they made fun "with" rather than "of". In the episode in question, the President turned out to not only be an excellent pilot and very intelligent, but spoken in a British-style accent ("I went to Yale, for God's sake!"). Turns out his mispronounciations and other quirks the media/internet constantly berated him for were an act.
  • Robot Chicken likes to play up his love of tacos, and had a famous skit where he becomes a Jedi and fights a lightsaber duel with Abraham Lincoln. Bush wins.
  • According to the lore of Assassin's Creed, Bush was backed by the Templars while Gore was backed by the Assassins during the 2000 elections.
  • Frequently mentioned in Treme, which makes sense, seeing as how it's set in post-Katrina New Orleans. Mostly from Creighton and Davis, the mot political characters. He's also the subject of Davis' song "Shame, Shame, Shame [on you now, Dubya]."
  • Conor O'Berst of Bright Eyes wrote an entire song on Bush - an exceptionally scathing one at that - entitled "When the President Talks to God".

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alternative title(s): Dubya; George W Bush
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