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"The Presidents Song" is a song from the seventy-fifth episode (year 1995) of Animaniacs. It is sung by the Warners, describing the first forty-two Presidents of the United States from George Washington to Bill Clinton. The lyrics were written by Randy Rogel. It is also the 12th track on the album "Variety Pack," and contains lyrics that were originally written for the song, but did not end up in the show.

Most of the song is set to the tune of the finale of Giachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture"; the line "A war! A war south down in Dixie!" is to the tune of "Dixie."; with the instrumental bit after the line "takes us into World War I" being set to the tune of "Mademoiselle from Armentières."

Lyrics[]

Yakko:
Heigh Ho, do you know
The names of the US residents
Who then became the presidents
And got a view from the White House loo
Of Pennsylvania Avenue?
Wakko:
George Washington was the first, you see,
He once chopped down a cherry tree.
Dot:
President number two would be
John Adams, and then number three...
Yakko:
Tom Jefferson stayed up to write
A declaration late at night
So he and his wife had a great big fight
And she made him sleep on the couch all night
Wakko:
James Madison never had a son
And he fought the War of 1812
Dot:
James Monroe's colossal nose
Was bigger than Pinocchio's
Yakko:
John Quincy Adams was number six
And it's Andrew Jackson's butt he kicks
So Jackson learns to play politics.
Next time, he's the one that the country picks
Dot:
Martin Van Buren, number eight
For a one-term shot as chief of state
Yakko:
William Harrison, how do ya praise?
That guy was dead in thirty days!
Wakko:
Old John Tyler he liked country folk...
Dot:
And after him came President Polk
Yakko:
Zachary Taylor liked to smoke
His breath killed friends whenever he spoke
Wakko:
1850, really nifty
Millard Fillmore's in
Yakko:
Young and fierce was Franklin Pierce,
The man without a chin
Dot:
Follows next a period spannin'
Four long years with James Buchanan
Then the south starts shootin' cannon
And we got a Civil War
The Warners:
A war!
A war down south in Dixie!
Yakko:
Up to bat comes old Abe Lincoln
Dot:
There's a guy who's really thinkin'!
Wakko:
Kept the United States from shrinkin'
Saved the ship of state from sinkin'!
Dot:
Andrew Johnson's next
He had some slight defects
Wakko:
Congress each would impeach...
Dot:
And so the country now elects...
Yakko:
Ulysses Simpson Grant,
Who would scream and rave and rant...
Wakko:
While drinkin' whiskey, although risky,
Cause he'd spill it on his pants
Yakko:
It's 1877 and the Democrats would gloat
But they're all amazed when Rutherford Hayes
Wins by just one vote
Dot:
James Garfield someone really hated
Cause he was assassinated
Wakko:
Chester Arthur gets instated
Four years later, he was traded...
Dot:
For Grover Cleveland, really fat,
Elected twice as a Democrat
Then Benjamin Harrison, after that,
It's William McKinley up to bat
Yakko:
Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill
Wakko:
And President Taft, he got the bill
Yakko:
In 1913, Woodrow...
The Warners:
Wilson
So, takes us into World War I
Yakko:
Warren Harding, next in line.
Dot:
It's Calvin Coolidge, he does fine.
Wakko:
And then in 1929,
The market crashes and we find...
Yakko:
It's Herbert Hoover's big debut
He gets the blame and loses to...
Dot:
Franklin Roosevelt, President who
Helped us win in World War II
Wakko:
Harry Truman, weird little human,
Serves two terms and when he's done...
Yakko:
It's Eisenhower who's got the power
From '53 to '61
Dot:
John Kennedy had Camelot
Then Lyndon Johnson took his spot
Yakko:
Richard Nixon, he gets caught
And Gerald Ford fell down a lot
Wakko:
Jimmy Carter liked campaign trips
Yakko:
And Ronald Reagan's speeches' scripts
All came from famous movie clips
And President Bush said, "Read my lips"
Dot:
Now in Washington, DC...
Wakko:
There's Democrats and the GOP...
Yakko:
But the ones in charge are plain to see...
Dot:
The Clintons, Bill and Hillary!
Yakko:
The next President to lead the way,
Well, it might just be yourself one day.
Then the press'll distort everything you say...
The Warners:
So jump in your plane and fly away!

Yakko:
Heigh ho, do you know
The names of the U.S. residents
And then became the Presidents
And got a view from the White House loo
Of Pennsylvania Avenue?
George Washington was the first, you see
He once chopped down a cherry tree
Dot:
President number two would be
John Adams, and then number three...
Yakko:
Tom Jefferson stayed up to write
The Constitution late at night
So he and his wife had a great big fight
And she made him sleep on the couch all night
Wakko:
James Madison never had a son
And he fought the War of 1812
Dot:
James Monroe's colossal nose
Was bigger than Pinocchio's
Yakko:
John Quincy Adams was number six
And it's Andrew Jackson's butt he kicks
So Jackson learns to play politics
Next time, he's the one that the country picks
Dot:
Martin van Buren, number eight
For a one-term shot as chief of state
Yakko:
William Harrison, how do ya praise?
That guy was dead in thirty days!
Wakko:
Old John Tyler he liked country folk...
Dot:
And after him came President Polk
Yakko:
Zachary Taylor liked to smoke
His breath killed friends whenever he spoke
Wakko:
1850, really nifty,
Millard Fillmore's in
Yakko:
Young and fierce was Franklin Pierce,
The man without a chin
Dot:
Followin' next a period spannin'
Four long years with James Buchanan
Then the south starts shootin' cannons
And we got a Civil War
The Warners:
A war!
A war down south in Dixie!
Yakko:
Up to bat comes old Abe Lincoln
Dot:
There's a guy who's really thinkin'!
Wakko:
Kept the United States from shrinkin'
Saved the ship of state from sinkin'!
Dot:
Andrew Johnson's next,
He had some slight defects
Wakko:
Congress each would impeach...
Dot:
And so the country now elects...
Yakko:
Ulysses Simpson Grant,
Who would scream and rave and rant...
Wakko:
While drinkin' whiskey, although risky,
Cause he'd spill it on his pants
Yakko:
It's 1877 and the Democrats would gloat
But they're all amazed when Rutherford Hayes
Wins by just one vote
Dot:
James Garfield someone really hated
Cause he was assassinated
Wakko:
Chester Arthur gets instated
Four years later, he was traded...
Dot:
For Grover Cleveland, really fat,
Elected twice as a Democrat
Then Benjamin Harrison, after that,
It's William McKinley up to bat
Yakko:
Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill
Wakko:
And President Taft, he got the bill
Yakko:
In 1913, Woodrow...
The Warners:
Wilson
Takes us into World War I!
Yakko:
Warren Harding, he does fine
Dot:
It's Calvin Coolidge next in line
Wakko:
And then in 1929
The market crashes and we find...
Yakko:
It's Herbert Hoover's big debut
He gets the blame and loses to...
Dot:
Franklin Roosevelt, President who
Helped us win in World War II
Wakko:
Harry Truman, weird little human,
Serves two terms and when he's done...
Yakko:
It's Eisenhower who's got the power
From '53 to '61
Dot:
John F. Kennedy, he got shot,
So Lyndon Johnson takes his spot
Yakko:
Richard Nixon, he gets caught
And Gerald Ford fell down a lot
Wakko:
Jimmy Carter liked campaign trips
Yakko:
And Ronald Reagan's speeches' scripts
All came from famous movie clips,
And President Bush said, "Read my lips"
Dot:
Now in Washington, DC...
Wakko:
There's Democrats and the GOP...
Yakko:
But the one in charge, it's plain to see...
Dot:
It's Clinton, first name Hillary!
Yakko:
The next President to lead the way,
Well, it might just be yourself one day
Then the press'll distort everything you say...
The Warners:
So jump in your plane and fly away!

Trivia[]

  • Three of the Presidents succeeding this episode, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump are listed during the musical number "The Catch-Up Song" in the reboot episode "Suspended Animation: Part One" in a similar manner to this song (albeit with a different tune). That episode was written a while before Joe Biden beat Trump in the 2020 election, and was released between the election and Biden's inauguration.
  • While George Washington was the first US president, there were 10 kings of the Continental Congress who each served a year under the Articles of Confederation. These were Samuel Huntington, Thomas McKean, John Hanson, Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, John Hancock, Nathanial Gorham, Arthur St. Clair, and Cyrus Griffin.
  • Most of the Presidents are animated in a homage to Terry Gilliam's animated segments from Monty Python's Flying Circus, featuring monochrome or partly-colored portraits and photographs of the Presidents animated in a cutout fashion.
  • Next to JFK's portrait, Yakko and Wakko dress as John F. Kennedy Jr. from the famous film footage where he salutes his father's coffin.
  • The album version features a synthesized instrumental backing sounding "patriotic" throughout, while the televised version uses an actual orchestra (as per standard for Animaniacs) providing a fairly light underscore for the instrumental backing, albeit with occasional patriotic-sounding pieces. This suggests the album version was recorded first, combined with the inaccuracies compared to the televised version (in addition to changing the lyric about John F. Kennedy to be less controversial).
  • In the TV Version, Wakko sings the part about George Washington while in the album, that part is sung by Yakko.

Errors/Inaccuracies[]

  • Not all the presidents lived in the White House. George Washington oversaw its construction, but John Adams was the first one to move in, at which point it hadn’t even been completed yet.
  • Though the story of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree is a well known story, it is considered a myth as there is no record of it happening.
  • Thomas Jefferson did not solely write the Declaration of Independence. He was responsible for writing the first draft, but it was amended by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Also, the Declaration was ratified 25 years before Jefferson took office.
  • While James Madison never had a son of his own, he did gain a stepson through marriage.
  • John Quincy Adams didn't "kick Andrew Jackson's butt". Andrew Jackson actually won more votes than John Quincy Adams in the 1824 election. However, neither of them gained a majority, so the President was chosen by the House of Representatives, who picked Adams and some convincing by an-ex candidate, Henry Clay.
  • William Henry Harrison died 31 days after his inauguration instead of exactly 30.
  • Millard Fillmore is widely considered to have been one of the worst US Presidents, so most historians would be unlikely to describe him as "really nifty."
  • The Confederacy's hostilities to the Union towards the end of James Buchanan’s presidency were not solely targeted towards Buchanan himself, as the song suggests by the south’s cannons allegedly being aimed at him.
    • However, this is also likely done for comedic purposes.
  • If the score on the scoreboard was meant to represent states in the Civil War, it would be highly inaccurate as the Confederacy only ever held 11 states and the Union held 23. Not only that, but 16+15=31. There were 34 states in 1861 and during the Civil War that number grew to 36, with West Virginia and Nevada being admitted into the Union.
  • Andrew Johnson was impeached but was ultimately not removed from office, despite the song implying the contrary.
  • The S in Ulysses Grant's name didn't stand for "Simpson," or any name for that matter. His birth name was Hiram Ulysses Grant (and he didn't like his initials spelling "hug"), which was mis-transcribed as Ulysses S. Grant at West Point, an error he tried to correct but ended up going with.
  • Most historians agree that Grant didn't actually drink very much, despite him being widely accepted as being alcoholic.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes’ one-vote victory is displayed in the song as being 8 to 7. The actual Electoral College vote was 185 to 184.
    • The numbers probably instead refer to the makeup of the Tilden-Hayes Electoral Commission, a 15-member congressional body that worked to resolve the dispute over the 1876 election results. It was made of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats, and the Republicans’ 8-7 majority awarded Hayes all the disputed electoral votes and thus the presidency.
  • Grover Cleveland's two terms were non-consecutive, either side of Benjamin Harrison's, which means Harrison was not immediately followed by William McKinley as stated in the song. To this day, Grover Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. (This may change if Donald Trump wins the 2024 elections.)
  • Theodore Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill was three years before he took office.
  • World War I didn't start until 1914, and the US didn't enter the war until 1917, by which time the battles of Gallipoli, the Somme and Verdun had already happened. The only one out of the four battles listed that the United States took part in was the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The battles are also not in the right order. The Battle of Gallipoli took place from February 19, 1915 to January 9, 1916; the Battle of Verdun took place on February 21 to December 18, 1916; the Battle of the Somme took place on July 1 to November 13, 1916; and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive took place on September 26 to November 11, 1918.
  • The song implies that the Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred before Hoover's presidency, when it occurred during.
  • While FDR brought the US into World War II, the war didn't end until September 2nd, 1945 and by then he had already died and Harry Truman was in office.
  • The atomic bomb carried by FDR has "Hitler" written on it, but ultimately it was Japan that had nuclear bombs dropped on it rather than Germany.
  • Gerald Ford is only known to have fallen down on one occasion, supposedly due to a knee injury. It is likely exaggerated here for comical/rhyming value. The lyric was most likely referring to Chevy Chase's portrayal on Saturday Night Live.

Album version[]

  • Thomas Jefferson did not participate in the writing of the Constitution as he was in France at the time.
  • Although Calvin Coolidge's presidency is debated by historians, most consider his predecessor, Warren G. Harding to be one of the worst presidents in American history, so the switch in the album version of the song describing Harding as "doing fine" would be inaccurate.
  • Hillary Clinton was a First Lady. Although she ran in the 2016 elections as the Democrat candidate, she ultimately lost to Donald Trump.

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