Over the course of its first season on Showtime, Our Cartoon President got a ton of flak for trivializing President Donald Trump. After all, it literally turned the president and everyone around him into cartoons. But those who thought the show didn’t go hard enough on Trump might not be too thrilled about the way it portrays the Democratic leadership in this week’s season two premiere.
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did appear in season one of the Stephen Colbert-produced show, but their storyline takes a front seat in this Sunday night’s episode, which airs directly after the highly anticipated premiere of Sacha Baron Cohen’s much tougher Who Is America? series. After a cold-open scene that depicts next week’s Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin, the show cuts back to the president’s poorly-received performance at the NATO summit and his cabinet’s scheme to make Trump seem less “low-class.”
This leads directly to a scene in which Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mingle with “Chuck and Nancy” at a bipartisan charity fundraiser, complete with wine and cheese. “I hear this one has something to do with kids,” Pelosi says dryly. Trump instantly humiliates himself with a story about the Playboy Mansion’s “July humpa-wumpa event hosted by Kid Rock.”
In the next scene, Schumer is asking Pelosi, “How did we lose to that animal?” They come to the conclusion that in 2016, they had “the right ideas and the wrong message” and set out to remedy that problem for the midterms. They need a new strategy, one that “doesn’t require Debra Messing to bring it all home for us” and “doesn’t address income inequality by promising reduced prices for Hamilton tickets.”
Soon, the pair is getting advice from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on how to win like Republicans. As Schumer tells him, they were thinking of making the face of the Democratic Party a “shirtless Adam Rippon with sideburns shaped like hashtags,” but McConnell tells them to just “follow the ABCs: A) accuse Trump of committing treason, B) block his every piece of legislation, and C) blame everything on Hillary Clinton.”
Later, after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is seen completely blowing an “exclusive” interview with Trump, Pelosi and Schumer embrace their new “Crooked Donald” strategy to work their base into a pitchfork-wielding fury. But when it comes time to “mobilize them with a catchy slogan” like “Make America Great Again,” they just can’t do it.
They keep pushing their self-imposed four-word limit until they finally arrive at this monstrosity:
“Let’s Achieve Access to Jobs and Healthcare and Affordable Rail Service for Disenfranchised Minorities While Protecting Our Environment and Combating Climate Change with the Wealthy Paying Their Fair Share, Plus a Humane Policy Toward Immigrants, 2018 Opportunity to Receive Healthcare and Affordable Rail Service, No More Food Deserts While Not Demonizing Wall Street.”
After that goes over with voters about as well as you might imagine, the leaders turn on each other. “I told you that slogan should have been longer,” Schumer complains, to which Pelosi shoots back, “I was the one who said ‘opportunity’ should have been in there twice, at least!”
It’s a pretty funny scene that is also a brutal indictment of the current state of the Democratic Party.
By the end of the episode they come up with a slogan that does actually fit on a hat, but is unlikely to win them any elections: “We’re Sorry.” Surrounded by his children in the Oval Office, Trump watches them present their plan for a national apology tour on cable news and says, “Kids, we’re going to be just fine,” before adding, “Except you, Jared, you’re going to jail.”
As cartoonish as the alternate world of Our Cartoon President can feel at times, this conclusion feels all too realistic. And if the show’s creators are trying to win over an understandably skeptical conservative audience, this episode just might do the trick.