"I don't have the facts, but to go to Moscow one year after Russia crushed Czechoslovakia, and not remember who you saw — I think the answer is, level with the American people," Bush told reporters.
Bush is parodied here by Dana Carvey, who levels these kind of hyperbolic attacks throughout the skit. At the end, Carvey as Bush goes off the handle, proclaiming "never, never, never" will he raise taxes again. The president had still not lived down his broken 1988 campaign promise, "Read my lips, no new taxes."
Also notice that Carvey is impersonating both Bush and independent presidential candidate Ross Perot in this debate. His lines as Perot were pretaped.
Compared with Dana Carvey’s 1992 Bush impression, this 1988 version of the then-vice president is glasses-free, flush with a full head of hair, spotlight averse, and enamored of buzz words.
The portrayal reflected the perception of the Republican nominee's 1988 campaign rhetoric. Bush repeatedly used the phrase "a thousand points of light," at the Republican convention as a reference to charity work being done around the country.
And he brought into the first debate three times. Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis said, "I don't know what that means.”
The 1980 presidential primaries were hotly contested on both sides. Former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy launched an insurgent campaign against incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter, while Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush fought it out for the Republican nomination.
Saturday Night Live lampooned the contested primaries and the meaninglessness of both second-place finishers' continuing to campaign even after all was lost, with this debate for “third place.”
Again, notice the increase in hair for Bush. And check out Bill Murray’s best Boston accent as he impersonates Kennedy. Maybe a hint of his future playing Franklin Roosevelt.
Presidential-debate parodies got their start at Saturday Night Live in 1976. The show lampooned President Ford for his incorrect comment, "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration."
Despite the moderator’s immediate offer to let him clarify his comments, Ford barreled ahead.
"Each of those countries is independent, autonomous: It has its own territorial integrity, and the United States does not concede that those countries are under the domination of the Soviet Union," he said. "As a matter of fact, I visited Poland, Yugoslavia, and Romania to make certain that the people of those countries understood that the president of the United States and the people of the United States are dedicated to their independence, their autonomy, and their freedom."
SNL mocked Carter for an odd interview he had given to Playboy, where he said he had "lusted" after women other than his wife during his lifetime.