- Awesome Music: "The American Dream" is both a merciless parody of Award Bait Songs and an excellent example of one.
- The film's actual main theme, "Wag The Dog", is also pretty catchy.
- Ear Worm: "God bless the men of the 303!"
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: This movie was frequently cited after Bill Clinton launched cruise missiles in an attempt to destroy an Al-Qaeda meeting during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. After all, it's not as if a bunch of rag-tag terrorists in Afghanistan were a major threat to the United States...
- To say nothing of the Kosovo War (which, arguably, was more necessary).
- Protesters still reference it in comparison to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. And health-care reform for some unknown reason.
- Funny Moments: "Somebody get me a KITTEN!"
- Harsher in Hindsight: The film concerns a sleazy President of the US who starts an entirely fake war in the Balkans to divert attention from a sex scandal. Shortly after it was released, President Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about his sexual escapades, and then went to war in the Balkans. The coincidence was much talked about at the time, although the Kosovo war was all too real... and had been planned for almost a year in advance, with frequent mention on NPR.
- In December of 1998, Clinton ordered a series of airstrikes and cruise missile attacks on Iraq to force it to comply with United Nations resolutions demanding that Saddam Hussein allow UN arms inspectors access to the country's military installations to search for weapons prohibited by the armistice agreement ending the Gulf War and by later resolutions imposing sanctions on Iraq. Since this happened at the height of the impeachment battle, many Republicans in Congress were quick to accuse Clinton of doing exactly what the movie's protagonists are doing. Some might even consider it a case of Reality Is Unrealistic.
- Watching it after 9/11 makes it even harsher, with the idea of terrorists from some backwater country that "hate freedom" and want to "destroy our way of life". Even more so is the idea claiming that the (non-existent) Albanian terrorists want to infiltrate the US via Canada to any Canadian familiar with changes to the border traffic after 9/11 and numerous false accusations from the US of terrorists coming into their country from Canada.
- This only gets worse when you remember one of the arguments commonly made for keeping Bush in place in 04 was that 'you don't change horse in the middle of a race.' Ominously similar to one of the movie's more known quotes.
- Not only that, but a crucial scene features Willie Nelson's character conducting a song, "The American Dream", that comes across as eerily similar to other pro-patriotic songs accused of cashing in on 9/11, especially Alan Jackson's "Where Were You".
- Dustin Hoffman was later accused of basically the same thing the president was accused of in this film.
- Memetic Mutation: This movie's title has entered general use to refer to media manipulation and political campaign showmanship, albeit in countries like in Mexico, that word is very well know before the movie existed: There's a Mexican phrase that says Con dinero baila el perro (You can make a dog dancenote with money), albeit it's normally related how anyone can be bought with money, rather than be related with media manipulation, but it can overlap with it sometimes.
- One-Scene Wonder: William H. Macy appears in approximately three minutes of this film. He steals every second of it and keeps up with Robert De Niro.
- In one of the all-time great "holy shit, is that who I think it is" roles, Willie Nelson steals the entire movie just by showing up as a more-or-less thinly veiled version of himself.
- Paranoia Fuel: Everything you may think you know about the rest of the world, about the news, about history, could have easily been made up.
- A lot of what people popularly remember from history was made up. Very often public accounts of history are tainted by bias of those writing during or after the period, painting things how they thought they were or how just how they wanted people to perceive them. See List of Common Misconceptions - History.
- Propaganda Piece: "The American Dream" is a song that about protecting US borders from immigrants.
YMMV / Wag the Dog