The late Ross Perot will be remembered for a great many things, from running for president in 1992 as a third-party candidate and scoring 19% of the vote, arguably handing the White House to Bill Clinton, to founding the billion dollar company Electronic Data Systems and organizing a daring 1979 rescue of two Americans imprisoned in Iran.
But when many people look back at Ross Perot, the image they recall is Dana Carvey’s hysterical impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live. His nasal speaking voice and quirky personality made him a perfect target for the comedian and even though the actor already played President George H.W. Bush and there were 18 cast members that season, he was allowed to play him throughout the course of the 1992 campaign. This forced the show to use camera tricks and recorded segments anytime Perot and Bush appeared together during a live broadcast.
One of Carvey’s greatest Perot sketches aired on October 24th, 1992, two weeks after the 1992 vice-presidential debate. It wasn’t a great night for Carvey’s running mate, Admiral James Stockdale. The man was a Vietnam War hero who survived seven years as a prisoner of war, but he was new to politics and seemed a little confused at the debate. He began the night by wondering, “Who am I? Why am I here?” He also had the moderator repeat a question because his hearing aid was off and nearly walked up to the wrong podium.
Stockdale was ripped to shreds for his performance by late-night comics and the media in the aftermath. SNL had the funniest take with the sketch “Joyride with Perot,” where the candidate takes Stockdale (played by Phil Hartman) on a car ride after the debate and lavishes him with praise before convincing him to leave the car to check out the scenery. He then drives away as fast as possible, but Stockdale is able to run as fast as the car and catch up. It’s Carvey and Hartman at their absolute best, and a memory likely to be almost as enduring as Perot’s long-shot campaign. Click here to watch the clip in full.