Actor Will Ferrell revived his portrayal of President George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live to deliver a reminder about the 43rd president, whose approval ratings have skyrocketed recently: Just because Trump is a bad president doesn’t mean Bush was a good one.
“I’m suddenly popular AF,” Ferrell, who hosted SNL on Saturday, said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘Man, I wish George W. Bush was still our president right about now. So I just wanted to address my fellow Americans tonight and remind you guys that I was really bad.”
Sixty-one percent of Americans now say they have a favorable view of Bush, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS released this week, including 54 percent of Democrats. When he left office in 2009, his favorability was at just 33 percent overall and 11 percent among Democrats. Bush still rates lower than President Barack Obama, who is at 66 percent, but is well above President Donald Trump, who is at 40 percent.
Bush largely stayed out of the spotlight during Obama’s presidency and has famously taken up painting post-Oval Office. He has offered critiques of Trump, in an October speech delivering a warning about him without ever mentioning him by name. “Bigotry seems emboldened,” he said. “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
Bush’s handling of 9/11 and, specifically, his outreach to Muslims is often contrasted with Trump’s racist, anti-Muslim stance.
Ferrell portrayed Bush on SNL during the 2000 presidential campaign and the first year of his presidency and played him in a short-lived comedic Broadway play, You’re Welcome America, in 2009. On Saturday, he offered a list of some of Bush’s worst feats as president. “Don’t forget, we’re still in two different wars that I started,” he said, referring to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Hey, what has two thumbs and created ISIS? This guy.”
On the stock market: “The stock market’s at 26,000 right now. I had you guys down to a cool 8K. Now I’m no ‘economer,’ but even I know that was no bueno.”
On Vice President Mike Pence versus Dick Cheney: “I you know half the stuff ol’ Cheney was up to, you’d take no cakes for gays in a heartbeat.”
On the media: “One time, an Iraqi reporter threw an actual shoe at me.”
“I feel for Donny, I really do,” Ferrell said. “We have a lot in common. We’re both the exact same age, even though I was president, like, 40 years ago. We both won the election despite losing the popular vote, though back in my day we didn’t let the Russians rig our elections, we used the Supreme Court like Americans.”
He said the biggest difference between Bush and Trump is that Bush has friends, after which appeared Leslie Jones to portray former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Together, they closed out a skit with a song: “Boy the way the game was played, everybody knew their place, Cheney shot a guy in the face, those were the days. The housing market went to hell, Nazis kept it to themselves, bin Laden was alive and well, those were the days.”