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20 Most Savage ‘SNL’ Political Impersonations

From a vintage “Klutz-in-Chief” to Tea Party icons and a certain thin-skinned POTUS, these were the show’s sharpest politico parodies

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Melissa McCarthy's brutal 'SNL' Sean Spicer is only the latest takedown – here are the 20 most savage 'Saturday Night Live' political impersonations.

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Saturday Night Live has always channeled its sharpest political humor leading up to each Presidential election – and once the ballots have been cast, the focus usually returns to less barbed sketches outside of Weekend Update, treating some politicos and the POTUS like recurring characters. But there’s little customary about the show’s continued laser-like focus on all things related to the Trump administration long after November came and went.

One need only look at Melissa McCarthy's recent take-no-prisoners impression of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to see the show’s continued skewering of our current dystopic political landscape – and witness how her fierce take on the White House press agent has been hailed as an instant classic caricature. Even in the era of Peak TV, streaming stations and asynchronous consumption of content, SNL still exerts a powerful, almost gravitational pull in the pop culture landscape when it comes to parodying both those in power and the smaller players on the political periphery.

In lieu of McCarthy’s recent gum-gobbling, podium-thrusting triumph, we're looking back at 20 of the more notable political figures (presented in alphabetical order) that the show has sharply portrayed over the decades. Some merely suffered flesh wounds; others were practically skewered on a spit. But all of these impressions made a lasting impact, and help define the history not only of SNL but the country itself over the past five decades.

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Janet Reno (Will Farrell)

Why have the Attorney General host a teen dance show? Maybe the better question is, "Why not?" Ferrell played as her an unstoppable – and very butch – force of nature; his interpretation suggests that she's basically a Sherman tank let loose in the Beltway. But in the fictional world established by this recurring sketch, Reno wasn't any less intelligent or capable just because she loved to boogie, and the notion never undermined her role as Attorney General. (If anything, it may have oddly bolstered it.) What might have started as a silly excuse to get Ferrell into a dress and jerk his body around ended up becoming a somewhat affectionate tribute to a lady that got shit done. Bonus: Reno herself gave his alpha-female counterpart her blessing.

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Bernie Sanders (Larry David)

Fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm may have to wait a little while longer to get new episodes of that show, but the rest of us got to see Larry David all but take over every political sketch he guest-starred in last year. As subtle as a sledgehammer, this version of Sanders was a bull in a china shop, cutting down people through sheer force of will and volume. If you had never saw the senator and would-be presidential candidate as a typical David-esque kvetcher, you sure as hell did after his spot-on impersonation. And that "Bern Your Enthusiasm" skit remains one of 2016's SNL highlights.

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Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin)

Numerous cast members had portrayed Trump over the years with varying degrees of success (the less said about his hosting gig, the better); it was Tina Fey who supposedly suggested to Lorne Michaels that Baldwin would make a good SNL avatar for the man who's currently in the process of gutting our democracy. And thanks to her, one of the show's most beloved hosts is currently turning in one of its most iconic impersonations. His original take was all go-for-broke bluster and aggression; since the election, Baldwin has brought a combination of swagger and barely-concealed panic to his portrayal. He's practically a glorified cast member at this point, and given that he's set to host this week, we imagine the knives are getting sharpened even more. But if nothing else, no presidential parody has received as much real-time feedback – especially from an actual sitting President.

From "Gina" trade deals to beating ISIS with Siri, here are Alec Baldwin's most spot-on Donald Trump impressions.

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