‘Li’l Bush’ cartoon spoofs president, pals
Vail, CO Colorado
NEW YORK ” Like most political satire, “Lil’ Bush” pinpoints the logical extreme of real life.
Take its title character. Lil’ George Bush is a pushy if none-too-swift lad making mischief with his pals from Beltway Elementary: Lil’ Condi, Lil’ Cheney and Lil’ Rummy (pint-size versions of Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld). Another thing: Lil’ George resides in the White House.
Oh, sure, this new Comedy Central cartoon show does take lil’ liberties with the truth. For instance, “Lil’ Bush” is set in the present, yet George H.W. (not George W.) Bush is the nation’s chief executive. And though Lil’ Cheney mutters in an indecipherable growl (seem familiar?), his practice of biting off the heads of live chickens has no basis in real life.
On the premiere (Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. EDT), Lil’ George and his chums go to Iraq in hopes of tracking down some good news about the war to cheer up his dad for Father’s Day.
But once they arrive, where will the kids look?
“Right here: Baghdad!” says Lil’ George between explosions. “It’s got ‘Dad’ right in it!”
The episode’s other tale finds Lil’ George, inexperienced with the opposite sex, betting his friends he can get a girl to kiss him.
“What about ME, Lil’ George?” says Condi, who suffers from an unrequited crush on him.
“Yeah,” says Lil’ George, oblivious like always, “you can be in on the bet, too.”
Created by Donick Cary, whose credits include writing for David Letterman and a stint on “The Simpsons” as writer-producer, “Lil’ Bush” is “this fantastical Bush World bridging the two Bush presidencies, where anything can happen.
“Now that I’ve gotten inside Lil’ George’s head, I really like the guy,” adds Cary. “He’s got nuclear weapons AND little-kid emotions!” Indeed, when Lil’ George is left by Dad unsupervised in the Oval Office, he launches nukes at schoolmates Lil’ Hillary, Lil’ John Kerry and Lil’ Howie Dean.
Although Cary thinks D.C.’s political scene resembles a class of rowdy fifth graders, he contends the man who inspired Lil’ George is better suited than most to a show like “Lil’ Bush.”
“Somehow, this president that we have lends himself to thinking in a simplistic, cartoony fashion,” Cary says. “He’s always been about sound bites, one-word answers, move ahead, act from the gut.”
In fact, it can be hard to tell who’s spoofing who: Lil’ George complains, “I hate doing what I’m told. I want to be a decider!” Whereas in a recent speech, his real-life counterpart told an Ohio audience, “My job is a job to make decisions. I’m a decision ” if the job description were, what do you do, it’s Decision Maker. And I make a lot of big ones and I make a lot of little ones.”
At 38, Cary is a veteran decider, too, where comedy is concerned, and he insists the main strategery for “Lil’ Bush” is delivering laughs.
Even so, at times the humor packs a punch. In one episode, Lil’ George and his gang protest an unwanted menu change in the school cafeteria by torturing the cafeteria workers a la Abu Ghraib.
Will the president’s supporters take issue with “Lil’ Bush”?
“The good news is, 68 percent of the country aren’t his supporters anymore ” or whatever the number is,” says Cary, pretty close to the number in a poll released last week. “But we aren’t backing away from viewer criticism. I would have loved this to get on, the first year of his administration.”
“Lil’ Bush” premiered last fall on cell phones as five-minute mobisodes. Apparently the first such series to cross over from cellular to TV, “Lil’ Bush” has been fleshed out for Comedy Central into 12-minute stories, complete with beefed-up animation.
There’s also new voice talent, including Iggy Pop with his deep, forceful voice playing Lil’ Rummy (alongside Cary’s mom, Mara, who continues as Lil’ George’s mother, Barbara Bush).
It was shortly after the punk-rock pioneer came aboard that Rumsfeld stepped down as secretary of defense. Cary had to be a decider: Should he assign Lil’ George a different friend?
“We said, ‘We can’t lose Lil’ Rummy ” we’ve got Iggy Pop!”‘ How cool was that! “There was NO way Lil’ Rummy was leaving.”
Besides, Iggy Pop’s style pays homage to the way the Bush administration tackled running the country: “Dive in headfirst. Break stuff up. Don’t care what people think. It’s VERY punk-rock!”
Along with “Lil’ Bush,” Cary plans to create more cell-phone series for Amp’d Mobile, and has other TV projects in the works.
Meanwhile, he isn’t troubled that “Lil’ Bush” takes its cue from a president leaving office in a season and a half.
As Cary explains, “You do pilots and you think, ‘I’m gonna reinvent TV! It’s gonna be on for 20 years!”‘ Like the pilot he wrote for the WB, a dream project about his childhood on Nantucket Island, Mass.: “I handed it in. The next day I read in the trades, ‘WB folds tent.’
“So why NOT do something that may have just a two-year shelf life, but that people will laugh at and talk about? And something that’s gonna get on TV!”
Poking fun at the Decider-in-Chief? For Cary, that was an easy decision to make.
EDITOR’S NOTE ” Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.or
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