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This Is Why The Simpsons Has Failed To Have Any President As A Guest Star

"The Simpsons" has had a long and illustrious list of guest stars appear in voice roles since debuting on Fox in 1989. The show has featured performances from everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Lady Gaga over its extensive history, and for many celebrities, appearing on the show is something akin to a badge of honor. The show has both honored and satirized these folks, turning some into recurring cast members. Others appear to poke fun at themselves, cause chaos, and exit stage left.

But there's a certain type of celebrity guest that the show's been unable to land for years. No matter what the plot is, they haven't yet been able to entice a single U.S. President to agree to a guest shot throughout the show's impressive 32-year run.  Why have they failed to do so, especially when they have fearlessly skewered political figures for so many years?  Keep reading to find out.

Several ex-presidents turned down offers to voice themselves

It turns out that every single president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama has turned down the show, according to "Simpsons" writer and co-producer Mike Reiss in the book "Springfield Confidential," for a wide variety of reasons. This lack of presidential firepower, however, isn't for lack of trying on the show's part.

Between the pages of "Springfield Confidential," Reiss recounted the show's attempt to land Gerald Ford. "We were going to show him working in the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, stamping books and shaking down patrons for 15-cent late fees, but he turned us down." 

The show also nearly landed Bill Clinton but, "after we wrote him a part and sent him a script, he notified us, 'While I'd love to do The Simpsons, I'd never do anything to disgrace the office of the president,'" he said.

An attempt at getting Jimmy Carter to appear on the show dead-ended after the former president watched an episode of the show for the first time at his grandson's behest. The episode in question happened to be "Marge in Chains," where Carter is described as "history's greatest monster" after the citizens of Springfield riot at the notion of a statue of him being installed in town.

The Simpsons tangled with the first Bush presidency

The show's most infamous presidential critics, however, were George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush. In 1990, during the show's first brush with popularity, the then-first lady described "The Simpsons" as the "dumbest thing she had ever seen" in a People Magazine interview. This resulted in a letter written by the show's writing staff in the voice of Marge Simpson, in which she admonishes Barbara Bush for judging her family based on looks alone, according to a copy published in The Hollywood Reporter

The first lady sent a letter back, asking "Marge" to "please forgive her" for having a loose tongue. "I'm glad you spoke your mind; I foolishly didn't know you had one," the letter continued.

But the controversy did not die there, as the show was brought up in a 1992 speech by the former president. "We need a nation closer to 'The Waltons' than 'The Simpsons,'" Bush said in his speech, which the show promptly mocked in a commercial (via YouTube). "Hey, we're just like the Waltons," Bart said in the spot. "We're praying for an end to the Depression, too."

All of this culminated in the Season 7 episode "Two Bad Neighbors" in 1996. In it, the Bush family moves to Springfield after George H.W. Bush leaves office. A feud between Homer and Bart and the former president promptly takes place, ending with a truce brokered by Barbara Bush. (Interestingly, Gerald Ford would move into the Bush residence after they moved out.) That parody, as well as Bush's aforementioned remark, underscores why it was always a long shot for him to appear on "The Simpsons."

Voice actors have been called in to play the presidents

Of course, criticism hasn't stopped the show from satirizing politicians via the use of voice actors. In "Two Bad Neighbors," the president is voiced by show mainstay Harry Shearer, while Barbara Bush is voiced by Tress MacNeille, per IMDb. Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer himself, provided Gerald Ford's voice.

Other presidents have had speaking parts in episodes, but were voiced by other actors. In "Saddlesore Galactica," Bill Clinton, voiced by Karl Wiedergott, appears to infamously declare himself "a pretty lousy president." Clinton was also voiced by Shearer and the late Phil Hartman on the long-running animated series, as noted on Simpsons Archive.

Donald Trump actually asked to appear on the show, according to ScreenRant, but was turned down by its producers; he was ultimately the subject of multiple parody short films released on the show's social media in 2019, including one where Homer's paid to act as a supporter at one of his rallies. In the shorts, Trump is voiced by Castellaneta.

Only George W. Bush and Barack Obama escaped direct parody outside of a few glancing mentions on the show during their terms, though the former is seen in a photograph being beaten up by Homer as part of the Season 17 episode "Regarding Margie."

As for what "The Simpsons" will make of President Joe Biden, the future remains to be seen.