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They say if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. A good corollary to this rule is that you probably shouldn’t steal from Sideshow Bob.
The Simpsons scribe Bill Oakley penned a piece for the Washington Post comparing an outrageous moment in the Trump impeachment saga to a plotline on the iconic cartoon sitcom on which he served as writer and showrunner.
Defending President Donald Trump against impeachment, his former Secretary of State Nikki Haley argued that the president didn’t commit a crime by threatening to withhold financial support from Ukraine because eventually “the aid flowed.”
On Fox News, Laura Ingraham made a similar claim, asserting, “Attempted bribery is not in the Constitution.”
In general, the Republican defense seems to be that if the president’s intent to commit a crime was unsuccessful, it doesn’t count.
Oakley writes that he sees a distinct similarity between their words and those of recurring Simpsons villain Sideshow Bob. He says, “It’s hard to believe that the Sideshow Bob defense of Trump will be long-lived, as it fails to stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. It is literally a joke.”
In the 1994 episode, “Sideshow Bob Roberts” (S6, E5, now available to stream on Disney+), the disgraced former sidekick of Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer), attempts to take revenge on the boy who brought about his downfall: Bart Simpson. In the episode, Bob runs for mayor and also mounts a defense against his attempted murder conviction.
“Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit. Hah!” he says “Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”
Oakley also asserts in the piece that Sideshow Bob wouldn’t buy the Republicans’ argument.
“‘Oh come on now, that’s too much. People won’t seriously fall for that,’ Sideshow Bob might reply,” he writes, evoking the villain’s haughty, dastardly tone. “And then, with an evil gleam in his eye: ‘… Will they?’”
You can read Bill Oakley’s full piece at the Washington Post.
Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.