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St. Clair Entertainment Group presents
George W. Bushisms (2004)

"It will take time to restore chaos."
- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: December 13, 2004

Stars: George W. Bush, Brian Unger, Jacob Weisberg, Al Franken
Director: Elizabeth Reeder

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:01m:24s
Release Date: October 05, 2004
UPC: 777966039497
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BB-B- D-

DVD Review

Whatever you think of our President's politics, there's no doubt that he's been good to one of his unlikely core constituencies: documentarians and comedians. (He is hardly the first President to do so.) And while the talk of mandate and red states and four more years has characterized the post-election public discourse of the Administration, there's still plenty of comedy fodder offered up, unintentionally, by the White House: George W. Bush frequently has problems with the English language. This isn't the time for armchair diagnoses of the President, nor to engage in Orwellian speculation about what corrupting words does to the body public—and even the most ardent supporter of the President probably has moments, after hearing President Bush speak, of thinking: Um, what was it he just said?

This hour-long documentary, hosted by Daily Show vet Brian Unger, is a clip job, an assemblage of George W. Bush's many malapropisms, on the campaign trail in 2000 and during his first term in office. Even if you support the President, I don't think that you could make the case that he's a great orator—he doesn't sound exactly Jeffersonian in saying things like, "You're working hard to put food on your family." Unger offers extended comic riffs on the President's misspeaking; intercut with this, too, is interview footage with Jacob Weisberg, of Slate, who compiled two books' worth of Bushisms, and occasional observations from Al Franken.

So, is he stupid, or is he just plain folks? We'd all sound kind of stupid, probably, if we were under the sort of scrutiny that the President is; goodness knows I say more than my share of stupid things throughout the day, but happily I don't have the misfortune of having those errors replayed on late night television or Air America. Bush has coined his share of words—"misunderestimated" and "subliminable" may have gotten the most attention, but my favorite undoubtedly is "peeance freeance." (As in: "A peeance freeance secure Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have enormous historical impact.") Bushisms features a series of little set bits on these; similarly, Weisberg offers some readings, for Bushism Theatre—consider the almost Zen-like quality of this one: "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take ocean." Some of the gaffes are more pedestrian—"barriers and tariffs" becomes "terriers and barriffs"—and there's speculation that the real danger of these is not at home, but overseas. (As Franken points out, "Fortunately, most people abroad don't speak English.")

Even at an hour, though, this feels padded out and repetitive. Some of the same Bushisms are repeated too many times; the film even ends with a Top Ten list, of stuff we've seen before. An opening credit tantalizes us—"Artwork: Garry Trudeau"—but that turns out to be merely the camera panning past the frames of a couple of Doonesbury cartoons; merrily on hand as well are the George W. Bush Singers, who have peppily and close to madly set many of the Bushisms to music. If you're still really stinging from the results of the election, this may salve some of your wounds; but this isn't blistering satire, and it isn't supposed to be.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: A straight-to-video job that looks adequate, if a little heavy on the contrast.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Nothing fancy here, either; respectably clean audio transfer.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Only chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Even if you've misunderestimated George W. Bush, the clips here are worth more than a couple of laughs; he's almost made a sport out of mangling our language. But at just over an hour, this feels padded out; watch a couple of minutes of it (or check out one of the jibjab.com Bush parodies), and you get the idea pretty quickly. However, you can't really ever have enough of the leader of the free world making up stuff like "peeance freeance." Thank you, and may God bless America.

 


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