Simpsons Episodes for a Dreary Election

Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish8

“You must have a few tricks left up your sleeve.  Smithers, boil some coffee, we’re not licked yet!” – C.M. Burns
“Yes we are.  Come on boys, the old guy’s finished.” – Campaign Manager

America’s biennial exercise in the most basic kind of math there is – counting – takes place today.  And while there is unlikely to be any really useful information about just how large Kang’s victory margin will be until after 8pm Eastern time, that will not stop the internet, radio, and television (to say nothing of telegraph and telex machines) from pumping out breathless horseshit that precisely no one will remember by midnight.  So instead of that, why not kick back and enjoy some election themed cartoons from The Simpsons (and its direct descendents)?

Here are some of the most appropriate episodes for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November:

1.  Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish

Campaign Signs

The quintessential election episode from Season 2, Burns’ run for governor contains such memorable scenes as the introduction of the hired political guns, the inimitable Charles Darwin infomercial, and Marge’s awesome defeat of Burns, which is so total that he’s “ruined before it hit the ground”.  Some memorable political quotes:

  • Burns: Oh, get off your soap box, Simpson, do you realize how much it costs to run for office?  More than any honest man can afford!
  • Campaign Manager: Now, here’s the problem as I see it, while Governor Bailey is beloved by all, ninety-eight percent of the voters rate you as ‘Despicable or worse’.  That’s why we’ve assembled the finest campaign team money can buy.  This is your speech writer, your joke writer, your spin doctor, your make-up man, and your personal trainer.  Their job: to turn this Mr. Burns, into this.
    Burns: Why are my teeth showing like that?
    Campaign Manager: Because you’re smiling.
    Burns: Ah, excellent.  This is exactly the kind of trickery I’m paying you for.  But how do we turn your average Joe Six-pack against Mary Bailey?
    Campaign Manager: With this team of investigators: your muckraker, your character assassin, your mud slinger, your garbologist. 
  • Mary Bailey: My worthy opponent seems to think that the voters of this state are gullible fools.  I, however, prefer to rely on their intelligence and good judgment.
    Political Reporter: Interesting strategy.  Good luck.
  • Lisa: Well, as long as I’m asking something, can I ask him to assuage my fears that he’s contaminating the planet in a manner that may one day render it uninhabitable? 
    Campaign Manager: No, dear, the card question will be fine.
  • Burns: I love dogs, babies too.
  • Burns: Ironic, isn’t it, Smithers?  This anonymous clan of slack jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail.  That’s democracy for you.
    Smithers: You are noble and poetic in defeat, sir.

2.  Lisa’s Substitute

School Campaign Signs

The school election is just a small part of this episode, but contains plenty of excellently cynical and sarcastic electioneering.  Some memorable political quotes and moments:

  • Bart: Aw, Dad, it’s just a popularity contest.
    Homer: Just a popularity contest?  Excuse me, what’s more important than popularity?
  • Bart: He says there aren’t any easy answers.  I say, he’s not looking hard enough!
  • Lisa's Substitute5 
  • Nelson: I didn’t vote.  Voting’s for geeks.
  • Lisa's Substitute7 

3.  Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington

Mr Lisa Goes to Washington8

This one’s more political than strictly electoral, but it excels at making fun of the civic religion than is American democracy and government.  Some memorable quotes:

  • Nelson: So burn the flag if you must, but before you do, you better burn a few other things.  You better burn your shirt and your pants, be sure to burn your TV and car, oh yes, and don’t forget to burn your house.  Because none of those things could exist without six white stripes, seven red stripes, and a hell of a lot of stars!
  • Alabama Kid: My back is spineless, my belly is yellow, I am the American non-voter.
  • Bart: On this spot, Richard Nixon bowled back-to-back 300 games.
    Homer: Yeah, right.
  • Congressman Bob Arnold: Tot shot always plays in the sticks
    Moe: Oh, it’s that nice.  Now there is a politician who cares.
    Barney: If I ever vote, it’ll be for him.
  • Lisa: Mr. Jefferson, my name is Lisa Simpson, and I have a problem.
    Jefferson Memorial: I know your problem, the Lincoln Memorial was too crowded!
  • Lisa: The city of Washington was built on a stagnant swamp some two hundred years ago and very little has changed.  It stank then and it stinks now!
  • Marge: Imprisoned Congressman becomes born again Christian.

4 . Bart Gets an Elephant

This one isn’t so much electoral or political, but it does contain two perfect summations that still ring true today:

Republican Convention


Democratic Convention

5.  Sideshow Bob Roberts

Sideshow Bob Roberts2

Along with “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”, this is one of only two times the show did an entire episode around electoral politics, and it is genius from start to finish.  We got Birch Barlow, Republican Party Headquarters (which Zombie Simpsons still uses to much less effect), and tons more.  Some memorable quotes:

  • KBBL Announcement: No sports, no rock, no information, for mindless chatter, we’re your station!
  • Birch Barlow: There are three things we’re never going to get rid of here in Springfield, one, the bats in the public library; two, Mrs. McFierly’s compost heap; and three, our six term mayor, the illiterate, tax cheating, wife swapping, pot smoking spend-o-crat, Diamond Joe Quimby.
    Quimby: Hey, I am no longer illiterate! 
  • Birch Barlow: This town is under the stranglehold of a few tie-dyed tree huggers who would rather play hacky-sack than lock up the homeless. 
  • Burns: The mayoral campaign is upon us, and if we hope to defeat this Joe Quimby we need a candidate with name recognition and media savvy, a true leader who will do exactly as he’s told.
  • Sideshow Bob: No children have ever meddled with the Republican Party and lived to tell about it.
  • Birch Barlow: Mayor Quimby, you are well known, sir, for your lenient stance on crime.  But suppose for a second that your house was ransacked by thugs, your family tied up in the basement with socks in their mouths, you try to open the door, but there’s too much blood on the knob!
    Mayor Quimby: What is your, ah, question?
    Birch Barlow: My question’s about the budget, sir.
  • Krusty: Well, he framed me for armed robbery, but man I’m aching for that upper class tax cut.
  • Lisa: I can’t believe a convicted felon would get so many votes and another convicted felon would get so few.
  • Public Records Clerk: Here you go, the results of last month’s mayoral election, all forty-eight thousand voters and who each one of them voted for.
    Lisa: I thought this was a secret ballot?
    Public Records Clerk: Meh.
  • Bart: Oh my God, the dead have risen and they’re voting Republican!
  • Sideshow Bob: Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!

6. Two Bad Neighbors

Two Bad Neighbors6

Like “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” this one is more political than electoral, but there’s been a Bush on the national ballot for six of the last nine elections, and plenty of people wanted Jeb to run this time.  Some good quotes:

  • Homer: Stupid president, why couldn’t he just stay in his own state?
    Lisa: Actually, this is one of nine states where Mr. Bush claims residency, Dad. 
  • Barbara Bush: George and I just wanted to be private citizens again, go where nobody cared about politics, so we found the town with the lowest voter turnout in America.
    Bush the Elder: Just happy to be here among good, average people, with no particular hopes or dreams.
  • Bush the Elder: Just gonna relax with my U.S. News and World whatnot, oh good, roasting the new guy:
    Two Bad Neighbors7
  • Bush the Elder: And since I’d achieved all my goals as President in one term, there was no need for a second.  The end.
  • Abe “Grampa” Simpson: Big deal, when I was a pup we got spanked by Presidents till the cows came home.  Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions.
  • Bush the Elder: Oh, if he thinks George Bush’ll stay out of the sewer, he doesn’t know George Bush.
  • Gerald Ford: Say, Homer, do you like football?
    Homer Simpson: Do I ever!
    Gerald Ford: Do you like nachos? 
    Homer Simpson: Yes, Mr. Ford
    Gerald Ford: Well, why don’t you come over and watch the game and we’ll have nachos, and then some beer.

7.  Much Apu About Nothing


The vote for Proposition 24 is more of a background issue in this episode, but it still has plenty of memorable moments.  Including:

  • Mob: Down with taxes!  Down with taxes!  Down with taxes! 
    Helen Lovejoy: Won’t you think of the children?
    Mayor Quimby: Are these morons getting dumber or just louder?
    Aide: Dumber, sir.  They won’t give up the Bear Patrol, but they won’t pay taxes for it either.
    Mayor Quimby: Ducking this issue calls for real leadership.
  • Lisa: Alright, now you’ve got all the Simpsons behind you, Apu.
    Apu: That’s nice, although three of you are below voting age.
    Homer: And I’m not registered.
  • Apu: Executive, Legislative, and, uh, Judicial.
    Homer: No, no and no!  Ugh, maybe we should start all over with the electrical college.
  • Homer: When are people going to learn, democracy doesn’t work!

8. Treehouse of Horror VII

Treehouse of Horror VII5

The “Citizen Kang” segment from Season 8 is wall to wall:

  • Homer: Aliens, bio-duplication, nude conspiracies, oh my God, Lyndon LaRouche was right!
  • Kent Brockman: Kent Brockman here with Campaign ’96, America flips a coin!  At an appearance this morning, President Clinton made some rather cryptic remarks which aides attributed to an overly tight necktie. 
    Kodos: I am Clin-ton.  As overlord, all will knee trembling before me and obey my brutal commands!  End communication.
  • Kent Brockman: Senator Dole, why should people vote for you instead of President Clinton?
    Kang: It makes no difference which one of us you vote for, either way your planet is doomed!
  • Homer: These candidates make me want to vomit in terror!
  • Kang: Abortions for all.
    Crowd: Boo!
    Kang: Very well, no abortions for anyone!
    Crowd: Boo!
    Kang: Hmm, abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.
  • Kang: Fooling these Earth voters is easier than expected.
    Kodos: Yes, all they want to hear are bland pleasantries embellished by an occasional saxophone solo or infant kiss.
  • Kang: The politics of failure have failed, we need to make them work again.  Tomorrow, when you are sealed in the voting cubicle, vote for me, Senator Ka-, Bob Dole!
  • Kodos: I am looking forward to an orderly election tomorrow, which will eliminate the need for a violent blood bath.
  • Kodos: It’s true, we are aliens, but what are you going to do about it?  It’s a two party system, you have to vote for one of us.
    Man: Well, I believe I’ll vote for a third party candidate.
    Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away!
  • Homer: Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.

9.  A Head in the Polls (Futurama Season 2)

Nixon Truth-o-Scope

Helping to ensuring that even those of us far too young to remember the evil heyday of Nixon will forever be traumatized by the man from Whittier, Futurama didn’t just bring Nixon back from the dead, they brought Nixon back from the dead and installed him as President of Earth.  Memorable electoral quotes:

  • Leela: There’s a political debate on.  Quick, change the channel.
    Bender: Hey, that’s what Fry said when we turned on the debate.
  • Leela: Look, I know there are no car chases, but this is important.  One of these two men will become President of the world.
    Fry: What do we care?  We live in the United States.
    Leela: The United States is part of the world.
    Fry: Wow, I have been gone a long time.
  • Fry: Professor, when did you become so obsessed with voting?
    Professor Farnsworth: The very instant I became old.
  • Professor Farnsworth: The problem with both parties is that they always want to give your tax dollars to the less fortunate.
    Fry: The less fortunate get all the breaks!
  • Fry: I was gonna vote for you one time, but voting isn’t cool so I stayed home alone and got trashed on Listerine. 
  • Aide: You’ve got real charisma from the neck down.
    Nixon: Nixon, with charisma?  My God, I could rule the Universe!

10. Decision 3012 (Futurama Season 7)

Kick Nixon Around

Futurama 2.0 is clearly inferior to the original, but it’s been able to put out some very decent episodes, including this less than subtle political tale from earlier this summer.  Some of the better quotes:

  • Nixon: I promise to cut taxes for the rich and use the poor as a cheap source of teeth for aquarium gravel.
    Fry: Yeah, that’ll show those poor!
    Leela: Why are you cheering, Fry?  You’re not rich.
    Fry: True, but someday I might be rich, and then people like me better watch their step.
  • Morbo: Welcome to debate three-thousand twelve, the three-thousand twelfth debate of the 3012 election year.
  • Zoidberg: He may not be perfect, but do we really want some unknown new guy?  I’ll stick with the evil maniac I know, thank you.
  • Senator Travers: You really think I have a chance?
    Leela: Absolutely, we just need to conceal your intelligence and honesty in a hipper, dumber package.

11. All the Duke’s Men (The Critic Season 2)

Bill Clinton

Al Jean and Mike Reiss’s lost classic put together one of the best political satires of its time with this episode where Jay’s son Marty runs for class president and Jay’s boss Duke Phillips runs for actual President.  Great political quotes:

  • Devil Duke: That’s it, I’ll run for President, drop a whole mess of bombs and put Merle Haggard on the Supreme Court!
  • Duke Phillips: You think like the average Joe, the little guy making three hundred grand a year.
  • Mechanical Bear: I’m Bill Clinton; I urge you to work for Duke Phillips.
    Jay Sherman: That’s not Clinton, that’s just one of your mechanical hillbilly bears.
    Duke Phillips: Yeah, but so far nobody’s noticed.
  • Jay Sherman: I don’t know son, but you’ve got to try.  It’s what you promised the other kids.
    Marty Sherman: But all they want to do is goof off and eat candy.
    Jay Sherman: Well, son, as president, you’re above that.
    Flashback Reagan: I do solemnly swear that as your President I will goof off and eat candy.
    Flashback Crowd: Four more years!  Four more years!
  • Aide: Sir, the polls show you’re doing great with voters across the board, except women.
    Duke Phillips: Do they vote?
    Alice Tompkins: Yes, we do.
    Duke Phillips: Really?  Well, what about the Irish?
    Alice Tompkins: Them too.
    Duke Phillips: Uh-oh, better change these posters:
    Irish Suck, Vote for Duke
  • Reporter: Mr. Phillips, what do you say to those who claim this marriage is just an outrageous publicity stunt?
    Duke Phillips: I say gaze into the hypnotic power of my evil eye! . . . Is there a follow up question?
    Reporter: How may I serve you, evil one?
  • Duke Phillips: Now, I need you to write me a new speech.  The Guam primary is next week.
    Jay Sherman: Well, besides wanting to win, what exactly do you want to do for these people?
    Duke Phillips: Hell, I don’t even know what to call ’em, Guam-bats, the Guamish, Guammy Bears.
  • Reporter: Welcome to Decision ’96.  It’s eighteen months until the election and tonight we’ll focus on the Vice Presidential candidates.  Since this is so boring and pointless, we will periodically be inserting clips from Baywatch.
  • Duke Phillips: I’m Duke Phillips and from now on I’m speaking my own mind.  First, I’ll tell you what I’m really going to do as President, I’ll run this country like I run my company: I’m gonna raid the pension fund, dump chemicals in the ocean, and sell our best assets to the Japanese.
    Ronald Reagan: Ooh, looks like Reaganomics is making a comeback.

Any one or more of the above makes for fine Election Day viewing while you’re waiting to find out which alien planet we’ll be destroying after we’re all enslaved. 

7 Responses to “Simpsons Episodes for a Dreary Election”

  1. 1 D.N.
    6 November 2012 at 6:45 pm

    You neglected to mention the Amendment Song from “The Day the Violence Died”? For shame!

  2. 2 abra cadaver
    6 November 2012 at 11:24 pm


  3. 4 BryanM
    8 November 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I have to disagree with New Futurama being worse than Futurama Classic. The show’s always been very hit and miss – some of those Classic ones are pretty bad; but any fluctuation is too subtle to be anything but noise. Try it out sometime; rate each episode on a 5 point system and compare the seasons raw dog style. Not even close to comparable to the shift of Simpsons seasan 8 to 9.

    • 5 abra cadaver
      9 November 2012 at 3:08 am

      I THINK plenty of old-Futurama was really really bad. Unfortunatelly, all new-Futuraama is almost EXCLUSIVELY bad.That’s the difference to me.

    • 6 Mourning Glory
      9 November 2012 at 7:38 am

      There were a few bad classic episodes, but not that many, from what I remember. I’ve tried watching some of the newer ones, and it’s clear that the series is showing signs of decay. Maybe not Zombie Simpsons levels, but getting there. The last one I watched was “Naturama” and it just plain sucked. It was supposed to be similar to the “Anthology of Interest” episodes and the like, but it was pointless, unfunny, and a total waste of time.

  4. 7 Mourning Glory
    9 November 2012 at 7:32 am

    Typo alert:

    “Moe: Oh, it’s that nice.” should be “Aw, isn’t that nice?” instead.
    “As overlord, all will knee trembling before me” should be “all will kneel trembling before me”

    And you guys still haven’t fixed the other one.


    He does say “an”, but “because” should be “became”.

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