By now the observation that Saturday Night Live has made the full switcheroo from anti-establishment bomb-thrower to establishment chin-tickler is nearly as old (and unfunny!) as the show itself. But this week's "Funny or Die" Internet sensation, in which multiple generations of Not Ready for Prime Time presidential impersonators all gather around a conscience-plagued Fred ArmisteadArmisen-as-Barack-Obama to give him a pep talk about (I'm not making this up) creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, is probably the perfect piece of audio-visual evidence. See for yourself:
Oh, you could quibble about the laughable notion that there are "almost no regulations" on banks and credit card companies, or that George W. Bush was one of the two villains who "stripped out all the regulations" (in fact, Bush hired 91,000 new regulators and jacked up spending on financial regulation by 29 percent). You could continue to marvel at George H.W. Bush's now-complete rehabilitation as an icon of sensible governance (an interpretation that was hard to come by during his one term as president), or just point out that Dan Aykroyd is almost unrecognizably fat.
But for me the Belushi in the room here is how a show that was once almost thrillingly anti-authoritarian, where the lead writer was a rancid nihilist, where every president was not just impersonated but brutally (and/or absurdly) undermined in a way previously unimaginable on television, where every Saturday for a while there was a national exercise in "I can't believe they're getting away with that," has now devolved into begging the president to accumulate more power. All in cooperation with the Teamsters, the Greenlining Institute, ACORN, and more.
From a better time: