George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who was the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. As President, he succeeded Bill Clinton, and was succeeded by Barack Obama.
The son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, he was an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election, 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) and the first to do so since Benjamin Harrison in 1888 (112 years prior), 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 (mostly) for the rich at the beginning of his term and bailoutsnote for the big banks toward the end of it. 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 to totally avert the Curse of Tippecanoe (be elected in a year divisible by ten and die while in office, either due to sickness or to being successfully assassinated) without even suffering from serious injury.
In 2015, his brother John Ellis "Jeb" Bush ran for the Republican presidential nomination and was highly expected to become their 2016 nominee. However, he got overshadowed by Donald Trump, suspending his campaign in February 2016 after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primaries.
With his father passing away in November 2018 (only 7 months after his mother's passing), he became the last living Republican former president.
Tropes associated with George W. Bush (and his cabinet) in media and portrayals in fiction:
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
- He never used the word "Strategery" (although he did say "misunderestimated", "recruitiments", "internets" and "nuculear"). That was Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live.
- Several Dan Quayle quotes, such as "It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it" and "The future will be better tomorrow" were wrongly attributed as "Bushisms" during his presidency.
- Fan Nickname: "W" and the famous "Dubya" can and have been used in media both affectionately and disparagingly.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dick Cheney. This carries over into the Oliver Stone movie W..
- 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: Portrayals of him, if referencing his upbringing, have him being 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 (and he actually got better grades than John Kerry (though not by much; 76/100 vs 77/100), who was more commonly depicted as The Smart Guy Bush ran for re-election against Kerry), but certain famous misspeakings of his got him frequently lampooned as an idiot.
- GIS Syndrome: Some art critics have pointed out that Bush's series of amateur portraits of world leaders, on display at his presidential library, bear a striking resemblance to pictures that appear on the first page of Google Images results for their names.
- Happily Married: His marriage to his wife Laura is always depicted as being a happy one. Also referenced in the movie W. and its promotion.◊
- Malaproper: Multiple statements by him, contributing to his image as The Ditz. Bush became famous for his sometimes odd verbal gaffes, dubbed "Bushisms". Some of them, however, are particularly notable - not just mispeaking similar words, but combining elements from separate words.
- The Man Behind the Man: People on the left saw Dick Cheney and Karl Rove as this.
- The Napoleon: Portrayals of him often get into this, even though he's a little taller than the average American. The portrayal stems from some of his tics, as well as facing the even-taller John Kerry in the 2004 election.
- 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.
- Not So Different: His two successful presidential campaigns often tried to paint him as a down-to-Earth everyman compared to his opponents Al Gore and John Kerry, who were often characterized as out-of-touch intellectual elites. In fact, Bush was just as educated as his Democratic rivals (if not more so), being a Yale alumnus and a graduate of Harvard Business School.
- Nuclear Option: Rejected this as an option of retaliation for 9/11.
- Old Shame: He acknowledges his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln after the occupation of Iraq as this, seeing the cruel irony of what followed almost immediately after the fact.
- Only in Florida: The chaos surrounding his runoff with Al Gore was the largest example and tends to be referenced in media. How I Met Your Mother had a Running Gag of Ted dressing for Halloween as a "hanging chad," and the recount was dramatized in the film Recount.
- The Teetotaler: During his presidency, a common joke among his supporters was that he seemed like the kind of guy that they would enjoy "having a beer" with. The irony, of course, was that Bush was an admitted recovering alcoholic, and had long since given up alcohol by the time he went into politics.
- The Unfavorite: The Oliver Stone movie W. interprets that he was this while his brother Jeb was the one his parents had high expectations for.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: According to the movie W. 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!"
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: During the debates with Al Gore, Gore (who is taller and more -cough- stoutly built than Bush) was obviously trying to stand close to Bush and loom over him in an attempt to appear more commanding. The contemptuous look that Bush gave Gore clearly took the wind out of him, and also caused Gore's strategy to backfire since it quickly became apparent what Gore was trying to do.
George W. Bush has been portrayed in:
- 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.
- An H-Doujinshi ("Viva Freedom") showed Bush & Saddam Hussein having a three-way with "World Peace-chan".
- 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."
- 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.
- W. (Dubya), a critical (yet surprisingly sympathetic) biopic by Oliver Stone starring Josh Brolin as Dubya and James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush (AKA "Poppy").
- Understandably, he's prominently featured in Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Fun fact: one of Michael Moore's mentors is George Bush's cousin (through his mother Barbara).
- In Postal, he holds hands with Osama bin Laden, skipping towards a nuclear holocaust together.
- Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, despite being highly critical of Homeland Security, portrayed Bush in a rather neutral (even slightly positive) light. Basically, as much of a layabout The Stoner as the two main characters who lives in his father's shadow and is controlled by Cheney.
- 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 Autobotsate snack cakes while the Decepticons attacked.
- 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.
- One of the last disguises utilized by the title character of The Master of Disguise is Bush. The actual scene lasts maybe two minutes, but it was heavily played up in the advertising.
Folks around here call me 'Dubya'. But you can call me King George.
- In the 2006 Mockumentary Death of a President, George W. Bush is assassinated and Dick Cheney assumes the vacant office. The film was pretty controversial, with the White House spokesperson notably refusing to comment on the film.
- That's My Bush!, a sitcom parody by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Incidentally, they had planned on doing a show on the new President prior to the outcome of the 2000 election, with the alternative being Everybody Loves Al.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shown (among other famous people) as exemplars of facial readings on Lie to Me.
- 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.
- 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]."
- 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.
- 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 Cage's song "Grand Ol' Party Crash", we hear several spoken interludes from "The Dubya", voiced by Jello Biafra.
- 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".
- Roger Waters had some...less than kind things to say about him during the earliest tours of the 2010 version of The Wall.
- 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.
- 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!"
- 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.
- The Flash game Bush Shoot-Out depicts Bush as a gun-toting badass who single-handedly shoots his way out of the White House after it gets attacked by terrorists.
- DJMAX Portable features the song "Dreadnought", the background video of which is a Take That! to Bush: It features a country called "ⱯMERICA" (totally not the U.S.) ruled by someone named "B.WLAND", whose portrait is basically Bush but with black circles covering his eyes. B.WLAND happily goes around placing military forces around the world and sending off nuclear monkey mechas, until a mysterous silhouette man shows up and starts beating the crap out of him.
- Bush goes up against an Allosaurus in the 2004 Presidential election in Irregular Webcomic!. (The Allosaurus wins.)
- Ozy and Millie. Llewellyn runs against him in 2000 and 2004; the 2000 strips mock the shouting around that campaign (and provide artist Dana 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.
- 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.
- In the Newgrounds flash game Bush Shoot-Out, Bush is an Action Politician who defends the White House from a terrorist assault.
- Lil' Bush (featuring Flea as Lil' Dick Cheney!)
- 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.
- Indeed, Matt and Trey said they were "tired" of everybody else portraying him as a buffoon, so they opted to make him a Reasonable Authority Figure instead. The first few times he appeared, he was voiced by and looked like the actor who played him in That's My Bush!, which was also produced by Trey and Matt (his negihbor even made a brief cameo). He was eventually given a new, closer-to-real-life appearance later on. (And the episode focusing on the 2008 election, "About Last Night", had him completely absent; they originally planned to have him take the fall for the theft of the Hope Diamond a la The Dark Knight, but they dropped that as they felt that Bush jokes were overdone.)
- 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 his wife made an appearance).
- He was referenced, albeit accidentally, in "Two Bad Neighbors". 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.
- American Dad!:
- Appears in the 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 to death by an angry mob, 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?").
- 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.
- On the final episode of Time Squad, Buck, Larry and Otto go back to 2002 to stop him from making a big ball of twine instead of focusing more on financial issues.