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Spirit of '92

The Funniest Political Moments of 1992

Documentary Now! exposes the political drama of 1992 with "The Bunker" premiering September 14th at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Saturday Night Live/NBC Universal/Hulu

For those of us lacking the courage to do the math in our heads, it’s been 24 years since the 1992 U.S. presidential election — one whose biggest scandal could very well be whether or not a candidate inhaled marijuana smoke. (Simpler times, then.) But that doesn’t mean the political stage was wanting for laughs.

With “The Bunker” — which kicks off Documentary Now!‘s new season —  offering a no-holds-barred look at the 1992 Ohio governor race, we thought it was worth looking back at some of the craziest political moments that happened during this gamechanging year. Take a look below, and get a sneak peek of “The Bunker” before its premiere on September 14th at 10P on IFC.

1. George Bush Sr. Ruins a Japanese State Dinner

Be it bad seafood or motion sickness from over-bowing, former president George H. W. Bush didn’t begin the year with a strong constitution. On January 8th, 1992, our esteemed Commander-in-Chief became ill at a banquet in the home of Japan’s prime minister and vomited onto the lap of a foreign dignitary — triggering a flood of late-night comedy jokes that wrote themselves.

2. Kid Says “Potato,” Dan Quayle Says “Potatoe”

Also known as The Forehead Slap Heard ‘Round the World, Dan Quayle capped off his four-year facepalm as vice president with a gaffe that a 12-year-old was too smart to make. Then a heartbeat away from the second most important job in the world, Quayle tried to correct a Trenton middle-schooler on the correct way to spell potato (“Potatoe,” apparently), forcing the child at his behest to add a superfluous E — a mistake that made Bart’s opening blackboard gag on the at-the-time new and groundbreaking animated series The Simpsons.

3. The Simpsons’ Rebuttal to Bush Remarks

Speaking of the Springfieldians, the Simpsons were the target of derision from George and Barb during their first few years on the air. The First Lady remarked in a 1990 interview that she thought the show was “the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen,” and then two years later, George double-downed by saying he aims to “make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” In perfect prime-Simpsons form, the family replied to the speech with a newly edited intro to a rerun wherein Bart shot back, “Hey, we’re just like the Waltons. We’re praying for an end to the Depression, too.” 24 years later, everyone’s favorite yellow family is still taking potshots at political blowhards.

4. Bill Clinton Rallies Arsenio Hall’s Dog Pound

In what today would be the equivalent of Martin O’Malley having a rap-off with Jimmy Fallon, Bill Clinton secured the youth vote by busting out his sax and playing a presentable version of “Heartbreak Hotel” on The Arsenio Hall Show. Donned in the smoothest of Ray-Bans, the Democratic candidate reached heights of cool that carried him through the pre-LewinskyGate ’90s.

5. Admiral Stockdale’s Awkward Debate Performance

In 1992, plucky billionaire Ross Perot delighted Americans with his folksy aphorisms and primetime paid programming infomercials. But his on-again-off-again presidential hopes took a hit when his running mate Admiral James Stockdale stumbled his way through the first vice presidential debate. Long, confused silences and hearing aid fiddling drew questions on electability and inspired one of the best SNL sketches — with Dana Carvey doing his hilarious Perot impression and Phil Hartman as Stockdale — during that election cycle.

6. Clinton Asserts He “Didn’t Inhale”

During his campaign, standing in stark contrast to his devil-may-care saxophoning, Clinton emphatically claimed that he only smoked marijuana once in England, didn’t inhale, and never tried it again. (Note: 1992 was a time when the U.S. presidency hinged on that sort of thing.) It quickly became shorthand for a flimsy excuse and parodies popped up in SNL, In Living Color, and the 1994 David Spade/Jeremy Piven college comedy PCU.

7. Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown

Say what you will about the Bush administration, they really had it in for fictional characters. In this particular instance, Vice President Quayle chided fictional newsperson Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) for having a make-believe child out of imaginary wedlock. Quoth the prophet Quayle while discussing family values: “It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.” And as with everything he did in 1992, Quayle was crushed by newly minted Tonight Show host Jay Leno and CBS’ hot new Late Show jokester David Letterman, whose watercooler-worthy barbs made them the Twitter pundits of their day. Even Quayle’s local TV promo (watch it above) couldn’t help his case!

8. Bush’s Supermarket Scanner Incident

Despite a post-First Iraq war bump (remember Operation Desert Shield/Storm?), Bush’s approval ratings hit the gutter in 1992 as the economy floundered, the job market gasped for air, and the middle class continued to shrink. Allegations that Bush and his administration were woefully out of touch with the American public surged after a video showed Bush “amazed” by a supermarket checkout scanner. Whether he was indeed flabbergasted by common Main Street USA technology or merely impressed by new improvements to the scanning system, Bush never shook the reputation of being a privileged, uncaring elite.

9. The Bush-Clinton-Perot Debates

President Bush didn’t fare well under the piercing stare of an angry electorate, initially dodging the presidential debates then looking weak and aloof while in them. Juxtaposed to Bush were the calm Clinton and angry sprite Perot — three personalities that could perfectly serve as a cold opening to Saturday Night Live. In the clip above, Carvey pulls double-duty as Bush and Perot, while Hartman brings his “goofy ol’ country boy Clinton” A-game.

10. Bill Clinton Visits McDonald’s

After Clinton’s decisive win, Phil Hartman slipped into what would become one of the comedic great’s most famous impressions like a pair of easy-fit sweats. And showcasing the president-elect’s swagger in his new role, the SNL star performed his most memorable sketch as the Commander-in-Chief on December 5th, 1992. (It’s also one of the few times Phil actually broke character during a sketch.)

Watch MTV’s Tabitha Soren covering the heated ’92 Ohio Governor election below. To see who wins, catch the season premiere of Documentary Now! September 14th at 10P on IFC.


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.