Remembering The Time Barbara Bush Helped the Super Mario Bros Save America

Remembering The Time Barbara Bush Helped the Super Mario Bros Save America

It went a little better than the time Princess Toadstool went to a Milli Vanilli concert.

On April 17, 2018, Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the United States of America and wife of former President George Bush, passed away. She was 92. Barbara Bush was First Lady from 1989 to 1993, which almost made it easy for me to disregard the hottest years of her political career. I didn't care about politics, let alone U.S. politics during that time: I was interested in cartoons, Nintendo games, cartoons about Nintendo games, and not much else.

Interestingly, Barbara Bush often got mixed up in kids' media—Hence why I say it was almost easy to disregard her existence and go on playing Super Mario Bros 3. Sometimes the former First Lady voluntarily put herself in the spotlight, like during the opening moments for the 1990 anti-drug movie Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. If you haven't seen it, Cartoon All-Stars is 30 minutes of the worst kind of anti-drug propaganda typically vomited down kids' gullets in the early '90s. It's good for the novelty of hearing your favorite childhood cartoon characters say "marijuana" a bunch of times, and not much else (as if any of us had any doubt Bugs Bunny has a close and personal relationship with the ganja). Mrs Bush and her Springer Spaniel seemed proud to introduce it, at any rate.

Then there were times when the visage of Barbara Bush was yoinked by cheap cartoons for story purposes. Besides Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, 1990 also gave us an episode of DIC's Super Mario Bros 3 cartoon called "Reptiles in the Rose Garden" wherein Wendy O Koopa bullies Papa Bowser until he promises to give her America for her Sweet Sixteen. This was long before Nintendo retconned the Koopa Kids as Bowser's stooges, so Bowser dutifully agrees to fulfil her wishes instead of, I don't know, firing her out of a canon or literally any other option.

In the context of a 15-minute cartoon, "America" equals "White House," which Bowser attempts to lift from its foundations, much to the chagrin of Barbra "Mrs President" Bush (who's voiced by Tracey Moore, the same voice actress for Princess Peach / Toadstool). George Bush also appears on the episode, though he's never named, and his back is turned to the camera through the whole episode. He talks ceaselessly on the phone to some unknown party—even after the White House goes airborne and the phone lines technically shouldn't work. Maybe he was given a Flintstones phone at the start of his tenure, instructed to enter frequent and thorough negotiations with Mr Slate, and told to never, ever give up until America got what it wanted.

Either way, Mario and Luigi save George and Barbara Bush, Democracy, and the World by dropping the White House on Wendy O Koopa's head. Watching this scene now as a cynical 37-year-old, I have to admit it's still kind of great. Mario just straight-up murders Bowser's daughter. I'm here for this brand of Mario content. She's OK in the next scene, though. Pooh.

Anyway, Barbara Bush should be admired for her grace under pressure when Mario accidentally placed the White House on top of the Washington Monument. Good show, Mrs Bush. Meanwhile, I'm over here trying to drown out politics with video games like I did when I was a child, and let me tell you, it doesn't work when you're a grown-up.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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