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Case Number 05985

Buy George W. Bushisms at Amazon

George W. Bushisms

St. Clair Entertainment // 2004 // 61 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Maurice Cobbs (Retired) // January 15th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Maurice Cobbs will absolutely not misunderestimate George W. Bush.

The Charge

The accidental wit and wisdom of our president!

Opening Statement

"[T]he way I see it is, I am a boon to the English language. I've coined new words, like 'misunderstanding' and 'Hispanically.' I've expanded the definition of words themselves, using 'vulcanized' when I meant 'polarized,' 'Grecians' when I meant 'Greeks,' 'inebriating' when I meant 'exhilarating.' And instead of 'barriers and tariffs,' I said 'terriers and bariffs.' And you know what? Life goes on."—George W. Bush, lampooning himself while reading from the book George W. Bushisms

Facts of the Case

Based on the best-selling series of books, Bushisms is a video compilation of some of George W. Bush's worst lingustic offenses, hosted by Brian Unger and featuring commentary by Al Franken and Jacob Weisberg, selected "Doonsbury" strips by Gary Trudeau, and four selections by the George W. Bush Singers.

The Evidence

I would think long and hard before assuming that inarticulate speech and a gift for malapropism are indicators of stupidity. But that is the assumption at the core of the DVD Bushisms, which is based on the best-selling books by Jacob Weinberg that seem to exist to index George W. Bush's verbal blunders and label the man an idiot for, say, pronouncing "nuclear" the way Jimmy Carter does. Weisberg, who has long chronicled the often tortured syntax of the 43rd president, makes commentary on the featured clips along with Brian Unger (The Daily Show), with additional comments from Al Franken, cartoons by Gary Trudeau of "Doonsbury" fame, and musical interludes from the George W. Bush Singers.

The result is a smirking, poorly executed exercise in snobbery .

The clips provided are pretty darn funny—and, in some cases, pretty darn incomprehensible—and had it been left at that, this might have been a pretty good release. But Brian Unger (who is remarkably unfunny here, compared to his work on The Daily Show), Al Franken (who wasn't ever really funny to begin with), and Jacob Weisberg (who?) cannot resist showing us how superior they are to the president. It's a self-congratulatory orgy of hipper-than-thou smugness that tells us more about the commentators than it does about the one being commented upon. This is not deft political commentary, or even witty satire. This is arrogant high-school bullying. These so-called personalities add very little to the DVD—and honestly, if you have to explain it, it ain't funny.

Part of the reason that the commentators come off as crass, instead of clever, is the boorish premise of the DVD. While being articulate is certainly an advantage, it is not necessarily an indicator of native intelligence or even deep thought. People who are well-spoken can also be staggeringly idiotic: If you need proof of that, you need look no further than Janeane Garofalo, or the Reverend Jerry Falwell, or Cynthia McKinney, or practically any morning talk-show host. The world is awash with well-spoken idiots, but I'll bet that most of them don't stack up at all to notorious abusers of the English language like Samuel Goldwyn, or terrible public speakers like Dwight D. Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, and George Washington.

Of course, one of the best acid tests for whether or not a person deserves ridicule is how that person reacts to it. George W. Bush, it seems, would find this DVD hilarious. His self-deprecating attitude and good humor about his own shortcomings may be the thing most infuriating to his detractors—you can only really ridicule someone who takes himself too seriously. Some of the president's gaffes are really quite funny—ask him, and he'll tell you. In regard to what may be his most famous slip of the tongue, "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" Bush explains, with a twinkle in his eye, "Let us analyze that sentence for a moment. If you're a stickler, you probably think the singular verb "is" should have been the plural 'are.' But if you read it closely, you'll see I'm using the intransitive plural subjunctive tense. So the word 'is' are correct."

It takes more character to laugh at your own shortcomings than to laugh at other people's.

Least funny of all are the lame "George W. Bush Singers," who do nothing more than repeat, in song, assorted soundbites of the president mangling the language. This is entertainment? These segments of the DVD are lacking any hint of wit, creativity, or originality, and the worst part is, these people aren't even very good singers. They could have been left out altogether and the world would have been a better place for it—although I notice on the back of the DVD case that they have recorded an album. We really are scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

Someone should assemble a DVD of George W. Bush's stumbles and flubs, because he's got enough of them to cause Yogi Berra to double over with laughter and give Mrs. Malaprop the vapors. But the off-putting smugness of the commentators in this compilation detracts heavily from the inherent humor of it. While I can certainly appreciate a good chuckle at the foibles of those in the public eye, and while I think that laughing at politicians should be our other national pastime, this doesn't really do it for me. I've never been a fan of smug, elitist humor, and I tend to cut a little more slack toward politicians who routinely bungle their speeches than I do toward politicians who say stuff like, "You know the one thing that's wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say" and assert that "the purpose of government is to rein in the rights of the people."

That's the sort of verbal blunder that really frightens me.

The Verdict

Guilty. Feed the George W. Bush Singers to the Sharkticons.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 80
Extras: 0
Acting: 40
Story: 55
Judgment: 40

Perp Profile

Studio: St. Clair Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 61 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Comedy
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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• Official Site

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