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A Brief History of Politicians Shamelessly Pandering to Young People

By Jared Jones

Being that you have the Internet and the sun came up today, you likely already know that President Barack Obama recently appeared on the latest edition of Zach Galifianakis’ Funny or Die web series, Between Two Ferns. Hell, you’ve probably shared it on Facebook or Twitter by now with a caption ranging between “More like Celebrity-in-Chief, amiright? Show us your birth certificate already!!” and “Hahaha! POTUS with the MOSTUS!!” depending on where you stand politically. (Personally, I’m in the “Thank God we live in such an economically rich, conflict-free time as this, that our President can make fat jokes on a fake internet talk show” camp).

But on the off chance HolyTaco.com is your primary and only source of news (in which case, my God dude), I’ll say it again: The President of the United States, went on Between Two Ferns, to plug Obamacare. And he killed it. In fact, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Obama’s approval ratings among 18-39 year old males hits something like 384% by the end of the day.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a politician (or even Obama, for that matter) has shamelessly pandered made an appeal to the yoots to boost his approval ratings/scrounge up a few more votes/etc., so join us as we take a brief look back at some of the greatest moments in political pandering.

Barack Obama on Oprah, Sportscenter, Jimmy Fallon, etc.

Like I said, Between Two Ferns wasn’t exactly Barry O’s first rodeo (which may or may not be the name of my death metal-bluegrass hybrid band). While some of the more rabid Obama detractors out there will tell you that his appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2005 won him the whole goddamn election!, it was his 2012 appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show to discuss student loans that truly drew the ire of republicans.

“I personally do not agree with the highest office of the land, the most important figure in the world going on these comedy shows. I think it lowers the status of the office,” said Gretchen Carlson of Fox and Friends before running with a story about a Miley Cyrus upskirt photo.

And maybe she was right. Maybe the President could have appealed to those poor, oppressed and consistently undervalued college students of America in a more serious manner than going on a talk show, but-OOOOH CAT GIF BUZZFEED LIST KATE UPTON NUDES.

Approval Rating: A+ for the look on his face after delivering the turkey burn alone.

Mitt Romney Delivers the “Top Ten” On David Letterman

What separates President Obama’s appearance on BTF from most political moments in pop culture is that it did not come during election season. Ninety percent of the time, a politician of Obama’s status wouldn’t be caught dead on a cable program targeted toward us cat-giffing, list-feature-clicking leaders of tomorrow. But when votes — precious, delicious votes (*rubs hands together*) — are on the line and election season is ever-nearing, the line separating a politician from the sign spinner outside of your local Cash for Gold store begins to blur.

Take Mitt Romney’s 2011 appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, for instance. I’m not sure why Romney would attempt to appeal to youths by appearing on a show viewed by no one under the age of 55, but perhaps it was those of kinds of decision that led to him losing the election.

Anyway, Romney counts down the “Top 10 Things Mitt Romney Would Like to Say to the American People” while Letterman all but pisses in his cereal.

Approval Rating: I give him a B for effort, and Letterman’s writing staff the usual D+.

Chris Christie/Bob Dole/Sarah Palin on SNL

SNL has been used as a platform for politicians to flex their comedic muscles/gain relevance for as long as I can remember, and I was only born 14 years after the show first aired. Everyone from Bob Dole to Sarah Palin have appeared on the program to poke fun at their public images, but none were more successful in my book than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who swung by by the set in November of 2012 to give us an update on how “The Garden State” was recovering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Christie displayed some pretty solid comedic timing while not only addressing our (completely accurate) view of New Jersians, but even managed to rip on Weekend Update host Seth Myers and mock that goddamn fleece he had been wearing in every public appearance for weeks leading up to his appearance. “I am going to die in this fleece,” joked Christie before attacking the Governors of surrounding states, on-scene reporters, and again, Seth Myers. I’ll meet you in Atlantic City anytime, you crazy son of a bitch.

Approval Rating: For filling the long overdue void left behind by Chris Farley, I give Christie’s appearance five stars (I’m doing stars now).

Bill Clinton Rips a Sax Solo on Arsenio Hall

There are many people — mainly, nameless, faceless Youtube commenters — who will assert that Bill Clinton was and still is the “blackest” President the U.S. of A. has ever had, and it’s hard to disagree with them when listening to ol’ Bill serenade the Arsenio Hall audience in 1992. For as funky and smooth as we all know President Obama is, I’ve yet to hear him rip a bass or drum riff that even comes close to Clinton’s epic sax solo.

Truly, Clinton’s appearance on Arsenio Hall was a groundbreaking moment as far as political-pop culture crossovers go, and surely helped Clinton secure the minority and youth vote during his win in the 1992 presidential race shortly thereafter. Because that’s what politics really boils down to, after all: Who can play an instrument and who is a talentless loser.

Approval Rating: Five funky-fresh, razzmatazz, “Don Cornelius approves” stars

Richard Nixon Socks it to us on Laugh-In

FACT: This was Nixon’s *exact* reaction when the Watergate scandal broke.

Approval Rating: Not a crook (2 ½ stars)

FDR Gets Into a Pie Fight on The Three Stooges

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Ah yes, the political-pop culture posturing moment that started them all.

It is a universally accepted fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was getting crushed by Herbert Hoover in the 1932 Presidential election until he poked Larry in the eyes and hit Moe with a pie in the classic Stooges episode, “Presidential Confection.” The episode, which was later lost in the great MGM fire of ’33, featured the future three-time President playing the role of a clumsy waiter who, through a series of contrived circumstances, ended up inciting a riot during a dinner party Moe was hosting for a woman he was trying to convince…

…I am being told that Roosevelt never appeared on a Three Stooges episode, and that this entire scenario is simply a figment of my imagination.

Approval Rating: I need to see a psychiatrist

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