President George W Bush’s long-standing friendship with one of the Republican party’s staunchest Hollywood supporters looks set to cause the White House major embarrassment. Civil Liberties groups are calling for the President to sever all ties with Warner Looney Tunes star Bugs Bunny, who is at the centre of a developing storm after the Cartoon Network banned several of his films, labelling them ‘crudely racist’. The President has tried to remain loyal to his close friend, pointing out that the racial stereotyping seen in this films should be viewed in the context of the less enlightened times in which they were made. However, critics have argued that the cartoons in question go far beyond the normal bigotry seen in other films of the 1940s and 1950s.
In the 1953 short “Jungle Bunny”, for instance, Bugs escapes from a group of cannibals (crudely drawn with thick lips, frizzy hair and bones through their noses, whist speaking with Harlem accents), by donning a Ku Klux Klan outfit and scaring them so much they turn white. In 1941’s “Coon With The Wind”, Bugs drives redneck plantation owner Yosemite Sam to apoplexy by blacking up with boot polish and munching on a watermelon whilst asking “Where all the white women at?” – he’s nearly lynched for his troubles. Moreover, these cartoons are not an isolated incident – in 1969 an angry mob ran Bugs Bunny out of Harlem after a personal appearance at the Apollo Theatre, during which he cracked a string of his ‘hilarious’ race gags at the expense of his friend, (and noted black performer), Daffy Duck. Further embarrassment could be on the way for the President, with a tabloid newspaper threatening to expose the racist rabbit’s links with several notorious white supremacist organisations – there have been persistent rumours that, in 1992, he performed at a Montana fund-raising event for the Aryan Brotherhood.
Bush Jr first met Bugs Bunny whilst working for a Houston charity in 1972 Both were performing community service – Bush following an alleged arrest for drugs possession, Bugs for sexual harassment (he was alleged to have waved his carrot in a provocative manner at a cheerleader and propositioned two running-backs during a personal appearance with the Dallas Cowboys). However, this was not the first time that the future President had been involved with cartoon characters. His one-time drinking companion, Carlton Waterman, recalls that during the late 1960s and early 1970s he and Bush Jr would regularly encounter famous ‘toons whilst trawling around Texas bars. “They’d usually turn up pretty late on in the evening, usually after we’d dropped a few tabs of acid on top of the booze. We met them all: Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Snagglepuss, Magilla Gorilla, even Huckleberry Hound”.
Early in 1970 Bush became involved with noted ghost hunter Scooby Doo and his friends, Freddie, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy. “We were sitting on this giant toadstool one night when they came past in the ‘Mystery Machine’ and offered us a lift”, says Waterman. “Hell, we had a great time with them – getting chased around all those spooky old Southern mansions by crazy ghosts until the sun came up!” Bush quickly formed a close relationship with Scooby and Shaggy, allegedly dropping acid together in the back of the ‘Mystery Machine’ when not hiding from ghosts. “George could really relate to Shaggy”, opines Waterman. “They both had high-profile, successful establishment fathers who had expectations of them that they could never meet!” However, the two fell out when Bush discovered that Shaggy was an anti-Vietnam protestor aligned with a number of radical student groups. Consequently, Bush snitched on Shaggy to the FBI. “Poor Shaggy, he found himself banged up in the State Penitentiary, acting as ‘bitch’ for a gang of Hells Angels! Of course, Scooby got sent to the pound and narrowly missed being put down when Freddie forgot to claim him”, Waterman reminisces. “Eventually Freddie was arrested for indecent exposure and corrupting the morals of a minor, whilst Daphne and Velma embarked on a lesbian affair!”
In the immediate aftermath of his betrayal of Shaggy, Bush became an outcast in the cartoon world – Shaggy’s fellow Hanna-Barbera stars Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble even threatened to beat him up. Nonetheless, after his 1972 meeting with Bugs Bunny, he quickly became associated with Bugs’ so-called ‘Rabbit Pack’ – a group of hell-raising Warner cartoon stars who were noted for their drinking, gambling and whoring. There have been allegations over the years that Bush Jr has used his high-placed contacts to cover-up potential scandals involving ‘Rabbit Pack’ members, and has tried to further their political careers through the patronage of his family. A major scandal was avoided in March 1983, when Bush’s father, then Vice-President, refused to endorse Elmer Fudd as the official Republican candidate for the Governorship of California – Bush Jr had planned to play upon Fudd’s uncanny resemblance to President Eisenhower in the campaign. However, the following month Fudd was arrested after he tried to entice young boys back to house with the promise that he would let them stroke his “Wabbit”. A search of his house revealed a stash of over a thousand child pornography magazines.
Once he had given up drinking and decided to run for public office, Bush began to distance himself from the ‘Rabbit Pack’ – particularly Daffy Duck who, after a dalliance with the Black Panthers in 1974, had converted to Islam before becoming prominent in several black militant groups. Yosemite Sam, of course, also found religion, becoming a popular television evangelist in the 1980s with his catchphrase “When I says damnation, I means damnation!”. Whilst he famously endorsed Bush for the Governorship of Texas, by the time of the 2000 Presidential campaign, he had become a liability. In 1993 he had moved to Montana and raised his own militia opposed to the ‘New World Order’. After a series of daring bank raids he made the FBI’s ten most wanted list. By 2000 he was besieged in his cabin by Federal Agents, claiming that once his pal Dubya was elected President, he would be pardoned. Luckily for Bush, he perished in a hail of bullets whilst trying to flee his burning abode