Every four years a Presidential election rolls around and Saturday Night Live fires off some of their best sketches, all of which are inspired by the political circus. Today we’re counting down the absolute best SNL political skits.
#5 Capitol Hill
In a parody of Schoolhouse Rock, Kenan Thompson plays an anti-immigration bill singing the “I’m Just a Bill” song, hopeful to one day be passed into law by the President. Those dreams are dashed when Jay Pharaoh’s Barack Obama swiftly vetoes the bill with a push down the steps of the Capitol Building.
There are a few things about this Capitol Hill sketch that make it stand out. Firstly it highlights the disconnect many Americans have with how they think the government works and how it actually works.
Secondly this sketch is one few instances where SNL is critical of Obama and his leadership methods, painting him as a brazen commander-in-chief who utilizes the extent of his powers to bypass political red tape. Even the executive action is surprised that he’s written to grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants.
#4 George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil
People go wild for Will Ferrell’s impression of George Dubya and no sketch better exemplifies why better than the Axis of Evil skit. In parody of Bush’s 2002 state of the union, Ferrell drives home how much Bush loves to use the phrase “Axis of Evil” and how broadly he applies the term.
#3 Bill Clinton Goes to McDonalds.
This 1992 sketch features the late great Phil Hartman as a charismatic Bill Clinton with an insatiable appetite. Hartman’s Clinton thinly disguises a pit stop at McDonalds as community outreach, forgoing his jog to mingle with everyday Americans and take advantage of their good nature. Although this sketch is pre-Lewinsky era Clinton, it still doesn’t miss the obligatory nod to Bill’s womanizing, almost off-handedly predicting his future scandal.
The real art of this sketch however, comes from the thick layers of irony in the scene. Hartman’s Clinton slyly gets away with eating through the entire McDonald’s menu in a demonstration explaining how warlords intercept food and foreign aid sent to starving nations.
#2 The Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Town Hall Debate
Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin’s second debate as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will go down as the hallmark sketch of the 2016 election. Based Clinton and Trump’s bizarre Washington University debate amidst Trump’s Access Hollywood scandal, SNL didn’t have to dig far to find comedy gold. Both McKinnon’s and Baldwin’s impressions are iconic. McKinnon plays Hillary as an out-of-touch Politician desperately trying to be relatable, while Baldwin’s Trump uses every dirty hand tactic he can to rattle Hillary’s cage.
#1 Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton Address America
Back during the 2008 elections, the Republican ticket tried to invigorate their John McCain ticket with wildcard Sarah Palin, and Palin’s unique person certainly did draw attention…and mockery from the SNL great Tina Fey. In this sketch Fey’s Palin and Amy Poehler’s Hillary address sexism, despite it affecting them in two different ways.
The skit goes on to contrast Clinton’s and Palin’s individual bids towards the White House, noting that while Clinton is hardworking, the charismatic Palin is still closer to becoming president than she is. But the real juice to this skit is Tina Fey’s performance ladened with wacky Palin-isms. From believing that global warming is a hug from god to the now ever classic line “I can see Russia from my house!”