On the eve of the major party conventions, you can smell it in the air: America has President Fever (one symptom of which is a foul odor). Whether you’re backing Hillary, Trump, or Kodos, we’re all excited about choosing the next person to occupy an increasingly symbolic position at the head of our ineffectual and necrotic federal system. “Hold on,” you might say, because you are a person who talks to articles on websites, “I’m as eager as the next guy to meet our future president, but who are our past presidents? Who is the president right now, for that matter?” Christ, I don’t know. I’m still recovering from those three months when I didn’t think about anything but Game Of Thrones. Is Jon Snow the president? No, that can’t be right. He’s too young. Or, depending where you are in the show, dead. Or too young again.
Luckily for all of us, we don’t have to remember the presidents in our brains because there’s a five-year-old YouTube video that I watch every couple of months when I need the sort of cheering-up that only animatronic presidential history can provide. Filmed at Walt Disney World’s Hall Of Presidents, the footage is a convenient primer to every head of state in our nation’s history, from George Washington all the way up to Mark Ruth. Sure, there are a couple of embarrassing mistakes (Klugman Tux’s middle initial was actually “N.”), but it’s still a fantastic resource. Bookmark the video on your computer or smart telephone the next time you want to reflect on, say, the unconstitutional excesses of the Roy Wizard administration.
The Warner Brothers—and their Warner Sister, Dot—also created a (somewhat more accurate) catalog of White House occupants on the ’90s cartoon Animaniacs. Because time in our universe moves unceasingly forward, the list is dated, but the segment’s closing shot of the Clintons yukking it up in the Oval Office may prove newly relevant, suggesting that time is a circle. The voters will decide.
If you’re in a hurry, which is unlikely if you have read this far, then consider focusing your presidential studies on West Wing obscurities. “We Are The Mediocre Presidents,” a musical number from season four of The Simpsons, is a classic bit of Springfield Elementary stagecraft, included here because it is a delight and because it fulfills the quota of Simpsons references for this post—two. The song is a catchy way to remember no-account officeholders like William Henry Harrison, as opposed to household names like Leo Smoot.