President Trump’s time in office has been good for George W. Bush. The latter’s ratings were about as dismal as Trump’s current ones when he left the White House in 2009, but they have skyrocketed lately as people compare Bush with his historically unpopular Republican successor.

Enter Will Ferrell, who has spent much of the 21st century brutally parodying Bush as a slack-jawed, gibberish-spewing, catastrophically destructive idiot president. He returned to “Saturday Night Live” this weekend to remind us why.

Ferrell put on his old U.S. flag pin and squint-eyed grimace for the show’s cold-open sketch. He spoke, he said, from what appeared to be the Oval Office but was actually a replica he had constructed in his Texas basement — “So I can still pretend to be president sometimes, the way a cop retires but he still sometimes fires his gun into the woods behind his house.”

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Man, I wish George W. Bush was still our president right about now,’ ” Ferrell said. “So I just wanted to address my fellow Americans and remind you guys that I was really bad.”

“Like, historically not good,” Ferrell went on, perhaps being a bit kinder than usual to Bush, whom he typically portrays as a man incapable of pronouncing words of more than two syllables. “I get that you don’t like this current guy, but please don’t look back at my presidency and say this is how we do it.”

Compare their elections, for example. Trump’s presidency has had to contend with a federal investigation into whether his campaign coordinated with the Russian government to damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Ferrell reminded anyone who might have forgotten that Bush’s campaign went to court to stop a recount of disputed ballots in Florida, which might or might not have tipped the 2000 presidential election to his Democratic opponent, Al Gore.

“Back in my day we didn’t let Russians rig our elections,” Ferrell said. “We used the Supreme Court like Americans.”

(If you’re interested in the history of SNL’s politics, by the way, take the opportunity to watch one of Ferrell’s first Bush sketches. It’s a parody of a presidential debate in 2000, which Ferrell-as-Bush spends mostly in a silent stupor while Gore delivers increasingly tortured metaphors about his Social Security plan. From Ferrell’s lip-licking to his mispronunciations — “strategery” — to his hair, his Bush character remains nearly identical 18 years later.)

Back to the present. A few days into Trump’s presidency, as he sought to ban travel from several Muslim-majority countries to U.S. shores last year, his critics wistfully circulated a speech Bush had made after Islamist terrorists attacked the country on 9/11. Bush had spoken from inside an Islamic center, shoeless, and urged Americans to reject bigotry. People remembered it well.

On SNL, Ferrell recalled what happened after the speech.

“Don’t forget that we’re still in two different wars that I started,” he said — alluding to Iraq and Afghanistan, both Muslim countries whose societies were all but destroyed by Bush-ordered attacks.

“One time an Iraqi reporter threw an actual shoe at me,” Ferrell said. The reporter threw two shoes at the real Bush.

Ferrell’s Bush took responsibility for creating the terrorist organization ISIS, an acronym for the Islamic State, which in real life Trump has blamed on President Barack Obama.

He took responsibility for tanking the economy at the end of his second term.

“The stock market’s at 26,000 right now,” said Ferrell-as-Bush. “I had you guys down to a cool 8-K.”

Even as some liberals remember Bush more positively during the Trump presidency, which the former president occasionally has spoken against, not everyone is forgiving.

Author  in The Washington Post that “a more careful look at Trump and Bush’s records shouldn’t elevate Bush; it should remind us that the two presidents have more in common than they care publicly to admit.” The Post’s digital opinions editor, James Downie, warned Democrats against attempting to rehabilitate Bush and called his record “one of the worst in American history.”

Last night was not the first time since Bush left office that Ferrell has reprised the role. When he guest starred on SNL during the 2015 Republican presidential primaries, he suggested a third George W. Bush term — in part to prevent the prospect of a Trump presidency.

But a year into this presidency, Ferrell’s Bush sounded at peace with retirement, playing with squirt guns in his basement and taking art courses at an online university. His former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice (Leslie Jones) joined him at the end of the sketch for a nostalgic duet:

Boy the way the game was played, they sang.
Everybody knew their place,
Cheney shot a guy in the face,
Those were the days.
The housing market went to hell,
Nazis kept it to themselves,
Bin Laden was alive and well,
Those were the days …

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