Remember when Sideshow Bob ran for mayor? I’ll spare you the embarrassment of not knowing who Sideshow Bob is and show you his campaign ad.
I wasn’t old enough to be paying attention in 1988, but I was paying attention 2 days ago, when my local NPR affiliate played a story about 1988’s Bush vs. Dukakis presidential election. They described an ad that made me realize that Sideshow Bob’s ad was based on a real-life joke: a hilarious* attack ad used to smear Dukakis in that election!
Vote Willie Horton for Mayor!
A few years later, in “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming” The Simpsons included a homage to another infamous political attack, the “Daisy Ad” used by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964, to smear challenger Barry Goldwater. When Bob finally presses the detonator on his bomb all sound drops out and there’s a cut to shot of Maggie picking petals off a flower much like the original “Daisy Ad”.
*By hilarious, we mean awful and offensive.