Abortion Clinic – No Child Left Behind
—Abortion Clinic sign seen in Lil’ Bush
On 13 June, the day of Lil’ Bush‘s Comedy Central premiere, George Bush achieved his own milestone. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released that day, the president’s approval rating was just 29%. The record low raises a question regarding Lil’ Bush‘s aim: is there any new satirical fodder to be found in year seven of the Bush II presidency? The short answer, in the case ofLil’ Bush, is “No.” The slightly more nuanced answer is “No, but no one involved seems to have tried very hard.”
This laziness begins with the concept. Lil’ Bush, conceived initially as a series of very short (one to four minute) episodes, borrows from the Muppet Babies cartoons, reimagining current politicians as toddlers. This premise actually has potential, but the characters only rehash jokes first made elsewhere. Lil’ Cheney is not only unintelligible, but he also bites the heads off chickens and drinks their blood. Lil’ Condi, also known as the president’s “work wife,”, suffers an unrequited crush on Lil’ Bush, and Lil’ Rummy (voiced by Iggy Pop) is a ponderous bully whose father beats him. The only surprise arises in Lil’ Rummy’s brutal honesty about that father, because the real-life Rumsfeld is hardly known for candor.
Even a lazy premise might be overcome by some top-notch writing. Unfortunately, Lil’ Bush offers no such redemption. Granted, it’s hard to find new angles on the President’s incurious nature, malapropisms, or frat-boy sense of entitlement. The first episode, “The One Where I Go to Iraq for Some Reason,” had the Lil’ Bushies visit Iraq in order to find some good news about the occupation. A feel-good story, they reasoned, would make a great Father’s Day gift for George H.W. Bush. Of course, the media would never let that happen, so the kids took it on themselves to find such “news.”
The plot checked off every item on the Bush Administration Stereotype list: they didn’t know why America went to Iraq; they believed democracy would flower in the region; and they were eager to slip past the “media filter” to get the true story. The action stumbled from one formulaic zinger to another. The Iraq museum, for example, bore a sign reading, “Today’s exhibit: pedestals that used to hold priceless artifacts!” The Green Zone, the only secure area in the whole country, was a Disneyfied paradise known as “Halliburton-Land! The wealthiest place on earth!” These jokes were, at best, throwaways, but Lil’ Bush offers nothing beyond such commonplaces. Without any intellectual and emotional depth, satire devolves into parody.
Perhaps the writers of Lil’ Bush set out to write innocuous parody rather than political satire. Maybe they wanted to follow in the footsteps of Comedy Central’s earlier show, That’s My Bush!, which did less to satirize the President than to mock sitcom conventions. Here, though, the only conventions worth mocking would be those of the “Lil’ (Blank)” genre, and Lil’ Bush betrays no such self-consciousness. Instead, it barely tweaks an administration whose approval rating is 29%, and does so without offering any fresh insight. Lil’ Bush is ultimately harmless, and not fun.