People somehow believe a crazy theory about a President’s birthplace.
Nixon’s head (Billy West) runs for a third term as President, because as a person without a body, he is exempted from the Twenty-Second Amendment, somehow. Leela (Katey Sagal) is the only member of Planet Express who doesn’t support Nixon (because Nixon gives out free beer). Leela decides to try and help candidate Senator Chris Travers (Phil LaMarr). Travers has a lot of progressive and common-sense views, which naturally make him extremely unpopular. Leela helps make him more of an everyman and eventually he wins the primary, becoming Nixon’s opponent. Everyone at Planet Express backs him, except for Bender (John DiMaggio), who conspires with Nixon to ruin Travers. Bender tries to find some dirt on Travers, but the best he can do is say that Travers’ middle name “Zaxxar” makes him sound like an alien. Based on this, Bender and Nixon start a rumor that Travers was not born on Earth and that he refuses to produce his “Earth certificate.”
Leela insists that Travers produce his Birth Certificate, but Travers says it’s just a way to distract from the issues. She goes to find his birth certificate anyway, only to learn that Travers has not been born yet. He is, in fact, from the future, having been sent back to prevent a robot uprising (led by Bender) that will be caused by Nixon’s mismanagement. Leela realizes that she can show Travers’ birth on television as a promotion to prove that he was born on Earth. It works and Travers wins the election. Leela asks Bender why he’s so calm, only for Travers to disappear and Nixon to now be the winner. It turns out that Travers can’t win the election, due to the paradox: If Nixon doesn’t win, Travers won’t be sent back. Only Bender realized this up front. Leela tries to say they almost made a difference, but in the new reality they never even left Planet Express. Nixon gloats, saying that he always wins.
This episode really doesn’t age well. It’s based on a very specific thing from the news that even people in 2020 have started to completely forget about, that there was a movement claiming that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, was not born in the US. Much like this episode indicates, at least some of the theory was derived from the fact that Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, sounded “foreign.” The most recent time it came up was when Barack Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, had to answer for the huge amount of time and money he spent promoting the completely unsubstantiated and easily disproved theory. It hasn’t really come up since and likely will be consigned to the dustbin of history in a few years.
The ending of this episode, while it could easily have worked, actually doesn’t make any sense. Travers is shown to use the Time Code from Bender’s Big Score which was explicitly a paradox-correcting time code, but not one that prevented alterations of history. In fact, that film is all about Bender repeatedly messing with the past. As such, Travers should have been elected President, but then should also have been killed off because there were two of him in the new timeline. I do admit that it was funny to have Bender, the one who traveled through time the most of the entire cast, be the one who not only realized what would happen, but to be counting on it.
Overall, it’s not a bad episode if you remember what it’s mocking, but it doesn’t hold up as well otherwise. Perhaps the only thing that holds up well is that a candidate making rational points will basically be ignored by the public. I’m gonna go cry now.
Honestly, there aren’t many I like in this episode. The funniest thing for me is Travers’ nominating convention which has a bunch of the states and countries of the Future. Some of the better ones include: Old Zealand (which is a big island in Denmark in 2020), Panem (the Hunger Games’s version of America), R’lyeh (where Cthulhu lies dreaming), Waterworld (like the movie), and Tri-State Area (which the mad scientist on Phineas and Ferb keeps trying to conquer).
See you next week, meatbags.
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