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"I feel your pain."
"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."
Bill Clinton was President of the United States from 1993-2001 (the first Democrat since FDR to be elected to two terms), ushering in an era of Democrats in power in the White House after twelve straight years of Republican rule. He is largely known in parody/satire for his playing of the saxophone (Which is, of course, Truth in Television due to Clinton being a skilled player of the sax) and as a Handsome Lech who was caught in a series of sex scandals, which threatened his Presidency towards the end of his second term.
Clinton ran for office with his wife Hillary by his side, and made no secret that she would be a part of in his administration; in fact, "two for the price of one" was one of their selling points. Of course, this led to all sorts of snark, especially when Hillary herself ran for President in 2008.
Clinton's time in office was known primarily for two things: a strong economy, and a lot of scandal. Allegations of unscrupulous business practices surrounding a failed real estate venture, the "Whitewater Development Corporation," damaged Bill's credibility, though no evidence was uncovered that could convict or even implicate the couple in wrongdoing; this matter, along with a couple of other bizarre incidences ("Travelgate" and "Filegate") were investigated by the Whitewater Independent Counsel with equally little traction. Every single one of the criminal accusations against him was eventually dismissed to the chagrin of Ken Starr, the specially appointed Federal prosecutor in charge of investigating the President.
Finally, in '98 Clinton was implicated as having had an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky; Hillary ensued. He used Weasel Words with great conviction (in retrospect, the infamous "that depends on what your definition of 'is' is" might have been better phrased as "are you asking the question strictly in the present tense, or about the past as well?") until Lewinsky produced a dress with some incriminating evidence upon it, whereupon Clinton came clean. Eventually he was impeached by the US House of Representatives on the pretext of lying under oath about his affair (the impeachment was in the planning stages before Clinton even testified), though the trial in the Senate resulted in his acquittal.
After leaving office he faced disciplinary action by the Arkansas state bar; Clinton agreed to a suspension of his license to practice law in Arkansas for five years in return for the agreement of the Whitewater Independent Counsel that he would not be prosecuted in Federal court for perjury. As a result of the Arkansas disciplinary action Clinton faced disbarment from the US Supreme Court bar; he resigned his license to practice before the Supreme Court in order to avoid disbarment.
Clinton also instituted the recently repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the American armed forces only if they stay in the closet. This was actually a liberalization of prior policy, under which the military could freely investigate the sexuality of its soldiers and "out" the gay ones, who would then be discharged from service. Like most political compromises, this pleased neither side of the debate, although it did inspire a pretty funny SNL parody of the movie Glory. His Presidency saw The Yugoslav Wars and his attempts to squash al-Qaeda, which were widely bashed at the time by conservatives, who claimed that Clinton's attempts to eliminate the terror group and their leader Osama bin Laden were nothing more than ploys to distract the public from the Republican-spearheaded attempt to impeach him.
He had perhaps the widest range of satirical portrayals of any president: at the beginning his comedic persona was that of a hickish southerner; a "Bubba" who enjoyed too much fast food and was out of his league in Washington. As his presidency went on, parodies increasingly played upon a "Slick Willie" portrayal: a fast-talker in both the situation room and the bedroom, able to invoke Refuge in Audacity to barrel through scandals with his popularity rating remaining high. Also, due to her involvement in politics, Hillary Clinton has perhaps been the target of more satire than any other First Lady: most of these satires played up her own ambitious nature and the notion of a "Faustian Deal" with her husband, where she would stay with him no matter how may affairs he might have, in exchange for aiding in her own ambitions for power and political office.
Bill Clinton provides examples of
- And a Diet Coke: Truth in Television—came back to bite him when it was discovered he had advanced coronary disease and needed urgent bypass surgery.
- Arch Enemy: Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Chessmaster: When Clinton was impeached over the Lewinsky scandal, he successfully managed to portray it as nothing more than his political rivals being willing to go to any lengths to undermine him. Public opinion eventually came around to his side: his approval ratings skyrocketed, the Republicans lost many congressional seats in the 1998 midterm elections, and he was acquitted and allowed to serve out his term. To top it off, the resultant fallout of public opinion towards the Republican Party lead to Newt Gingrich, the driving force behind Clinton's impeachment, to resign as Speaker of the House.
- This could be applied to how Clinton evaded all of the scandals his rivals brought against him during his Presidency.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Bill Clinton is good friends with George HW Bush. They're even rumored to have the same low opinion of Junior. They frequently, and consistently, do fund-raising tours together for important humanitarian causes, most notably during the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.
- Disappeared Dad: Bill's father died in a car accident three months before his son was born.
- Friendly Enemy: Despite being from opposite parties, the similarities in background between him and Newt Gingrich meant that they could discuss issues in a friendly atmosphere (well, relatively speaking, anyway).
- Happily Married: With Hillary, though it was touch-and-go for a bit there.
- Iconic Item: His saxophone. Sometimes paired with Cool Shades.
- Irony: The Lewinsky scandal was intended to be Clinton's downfall. Instead, it lead to the downfall of opposition leader Newt Gingrich.
- Life Imitates Art: During the height of the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton learned of some suspected al-Qaeda locations and ordered cruise missile strikes to destroy them. However, this was shortly after the movie Wag the Dog was released, depicting a President who starts a war to distract from a raging sex scandal. Commentators and Republican opponents were eager to make the connection. Became Hypocritical Humour after 9/11 when those same commentators and Republicans (in many cases, the exact same person) accused Clinton of not doing enough about al-Qaeda.
- Love At First Sight: He took one look at Hillary and promptly forgot his own name.
- Memetic Mutation: Not inhaling.
- Memetic Sex God:
- Old joke: "The Washington Post recently did a telephone poll of women in the D.C. area, asking 'Would you have sex with Bill Clinton?' 67% replied 'Never again.'"
- Older joke. Hillary is pregnant and furiously calls her husband:
Hillary: "How could you get me pregnant, you idiot! This will wreck my career! You've ruined my life!"
- Never Live It Down: The Lewinsky scandal. More seriously, his administration's actions during the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: He was the one that deregulated the markets, apparently under advice from Phil Gramm. Later admitted that he was wrong on that front, as well as the derivatives.
- Also ordered an attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, Al-Shifa, on the dubious claims of the factory having chemical weapons. The factory was a principal source of Sudan's anti-malaria and veterinary drugs, and its destruction indirectly saw thousands die from diseases that could not be countered. Whoooops.
- One of Us: He's a Rhodes Scholar, for pete's sake, and according to his family and friends, he's always got at least two books he's working on reading through at a time. In more than one way: he appeared on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and was asked three questions about the show My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. He got every one correct.
- Our Presidents Are Different: Practically the Trope Codifier for the President Playboy variant.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: He did not. Have. Sexual. Relations. With. That. Woman.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy
- Scandalgate: The Monica Lewinsky scandal became known as Monicagate / Zippergate. Called "Tailgate" by The Daily Show.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: In the 1998 State of the Union address he endorsed uniforms in American public schools (which traditionally don't have them). Short-term, it bought him a full week of Late Night Talk Show jokes about teenage "interns" in plaid skirts; long-term, Chris Matthews in particular is fond of bringing it up as a classic example of a Presidency that had run out of big ideas and grand plans.
- She Is All Grown Up: His daughter Chelsea. Guess it's a sort-of Take That to the cruel journalists that mocked the poor girl's looks when she was growing up.
- Single-Issue Wonk: Most people now will remember him only for the sex scandal. When he negotiated for the release of two female journalists from North Korea, it was joked that, even if Al Gore saves the planet and Barack Obama abolishes A-bombs, Clinton still always gets the girl.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: His initial claim of not having "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky which many took as the truth, but only if you have a very narrow definition of the term. Or a very legal definition of the term. Under the laws of Washington DC at the time of his testimony, oral sex was not legally considered "sexual relations". Thus, Clinton's statement, while untrue by any standard of common sense you wish to use, was perfectly accurate and truthful under the law and thus not perjury at all, despite accusations to the contrary.
- You Are What You Hate: His administration was part of the Drug War cracking down on marijuana even though Clinton was an avid pot smoker when he was younger. Famously, he claims he "never inhaled".
Anime & Manga
- In the dub of Azumanga Daioh, Osaka tells Chiyo-Dad that he looks "kinda like that American man, Bill Clinton." (In the original Japanese, it was Yoshiro Mori, an unpopular prime minister.) He does not react positively to this.
- One of the Golgo 13 stories features Bill Clinton... having smiley sex in the Oval Office
- As usual, his image is usually the President in most 1990s comics. He specifically spoke at the Funeral of Superman in 1994.
- In The Beverly Hillbillies '93 movie, it's implied he's actually related to the Clampetts. They were all from Arkansas, you see.
- Appeared in the Beavis and Butthead movie.
- The plot of 2001: A Space Travesty revolves around rescuing Bill Clinton and his saxophone from alien kidnappers.
- In the film The Special Relationship (broadcast on HBO in 2010), he's played by Dennis Quaid. The film is about the relationship between him and Tony Blair.
- Was the President in the South Park movie.
- Jack Stanton in the Roman à Clef novel Primary Colors is based on Clinton. In the film adaptation, Stanton is played by John Travolta.
- Another No Celebrities Were Harmed version in the military novel Storming Heaven. The Not-At-All-President-Clinton is a military ignoramus who puts up with a shrewish wife. There's even a vague Whitewater reference.
Live Action TV
- Clinton's most famous television appearance was on The Arsenio Hall Show, where he performed with his much-parodied saxophone.
- He appears as a guest saxophonist in the New Labour Rock Band on Bang Bang It's Reeves And Mortimer.
- A Rory Bremner special from 2000 had Clinton planning to go into space and seek out alien life forms after his term was up, and took Tony Blair with him. Like a lot of British satire from this period, it emphasized the idea that Clinton and Blair were best friends forever—which of course is Hilarious in Hindsight given Blair's later relationship with George W. Bush.
- One episode of Quantum Leap featured a moment when Sam was about to go on stage at an "amateur hour" talent show—and the act he was following was sax player "Little Billy C from Hope, Arkansas" complete with dark suit and shades.
- In 2011, he was invited onto Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. The "Not My Job" theme was My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. He got all three questions right. Here's the audio and transcript to prove it.
- He's a secret character in NBA Jam. Really.
- His cat, Socks, almost had his own game for the Super Nintendo, but was cancelled last minute when the developer went bankrupt.
- In keeping with its animal metaphors, he's said in Kevin and Kell to be a rabbit. Ken Starr? A wolf. The title couple have a chuckle over the idea.
- The Lewinsky scandal makes a few appearances in Ozy and Millie; Millie tries using the Starr report as an excuse for colourful metaphors in a report, and she ends up getting a lecture from her mother about media glut when she uses 'Lewinsky' to inspire a spit-take. (Ozy tries this on his father, but has to rely on "Teapot Dome".)
- In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, an Alternate History scenario about a different 1972 election, both Bill and Hillary appear as Young Future Famous People, being legal interns during the impeachment of President Spiro Agnew. Later, Bill Clinton serves as a military attorney in Syria with the rank of captain, and is involved in a battle with insurgents, along with Lt. David Petraeus and Private Bruce Willis.
- In the early days of The Salvation War, The Legions of Hell tried to seduce Bill with an illusion-generating succubus. He promptly saw right through her and killed the monster with a shotgun, claiming that he could identify soul-sucking demons due to being with Hillary for so long.
- The original version of the Animaniacs theme included a throwaway line about Bill playing the sax.
- In fact, he managed to make at least one appearance in all of the Looney Tunes Expanded Universe shows in the 1990s, including Tiny Toon Adventures (in the Spring Break special), Pinky and The Brain (claiming to be the world's leader when some visiting aliens request to see said person), Freakazoid! ("Can you tell me who's flying the plane?"), Road Rovers (where he was Hunter's owner), and Histeria! (where he starred in a parody of the Beverly Hillbillies theme and got tricked into admitting he's a liar).
- He also made a second appearance in Animaniacs (with did all the presidents up to him), and two more in Pinky and The Brain one in the 1996 campaign, he loses to Pinky); the other as a Head In A Jar still serving as President, 22nd Amendment be damned. (Hillary's there, too, and still doing some of his job functions.)
- The appearance in Freakazoid where he asks who's flying the plane is actually his second appearance; his first was at Freakazoid's side when aliens landed on Earth. (The first one was really dumb, the second one only cared about Barbie.)
- Family Guy portrays him as a Lovable Sex Maniac who frequently gets naked. And he slept with Lois and Peter.
- He was portrayed on The Simpsons more than once.
Homer: Bill Clinton, everybody! He's Jimmy Carter with a Fox attitude!
- Cartman's mom slept with him on South Park to get herself the right to "abort" Eric, (she confused it with adoption).
- Clinton also appeared in an episode of Beavis and Butthead while visiting Highland High answering questions and McVicker tries to keep the titular characters away by giving them an out of school pass and fifty dollars.
- On The Critic Duke has his own theme park, dubbed "Phillipsland". At the Hall of Presidents, Clinton is replaced with one of the drunken animatronic bears from the Country Bear Jamboree. Nobody seems to notice.
- Clinton's disembodied head is kept alive in a jar, along with the rest of the presidents in Futurama. He appears in the episode "A Head in the Polls", and hits on Leela.
- Appears three times on Celebrity Deathmatch.
- As a spectator during the Hillary Clinton Vs. Monica Lewinsky fight where he praises one of them before asking a woman (which turns out to be Paula Jones) to hand him a bag of peanuts which is caught in the microphone as "Would you mind grabbing my nuts?" Cue Hillary and Monica teaming up to chase him out of the arena.
- He actually fights against Kenneth Starr, winning by throwing Starr's head into the Liberty Bell.
- During the match between James Van Der Beek Vs. Saddam Hussein killed by poisoned hamburgers Saddam gave Van Der Beek as a gift.