Melissa McCarthy’s first surprise appearance of Sean Spicer — her hilarious version of the gum-chewing, Super Soaker-toting, media-bashing lackey — was the sort of reminder that, when SNL seizes a moment while running on all cylinders, the show can add to the political discourse that can be deep or downright damning.
But while the long-running comedy institution has been especially tuned in to policy matters in recent years, Saturday Night Live has always turned to political humor for inspiration (and served as the basis of many memorable impersonations). It’s been fertile ground for topical takedowns week after week, but that’s not to say that many of those skits aren’t timeless. Just say “strategery” or “lockbox” to someone and watch them crack up.
Here, we look back at the 20 greatest political sketches throughout the show’s history — from clumsy Fords to clueless Dubyas, from undecided voters to venomous debates. We’re leaving “Weekend Update” out of the mix: You could do a whole other list on SNL‘s top-shelf fake-news segments that have left bruised egos and belly laughs in their wake. These are the bits that have changed public outlook, occasionally spoke truth to power and still crack us up.