arl Rove is a man of many political skills, but he displayed a new kind of talent at this year's Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. No, it wasn't hip-hop — he tried that out, to mixed reviews, at the 2007 Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner. (Rove's rapping is "as close to being unwatchable as anything else online," grouses TIME's Josh Sanburn, "and there's a lot of stuff online.")
Rove, however, showed himself to be an able mimic. "You've gotta give Karl Rove credit for his boundless capacity to imagine himself as other people," says Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic. After channeling a bunch of politicians — including Mitt Romney and other Republicans — he tossed off an imitation of Bill Clinton. And it's pretty good.
But Rove isn't the only Bubba impersonator with game. Here's Rove's break-out role as the Big Dog, plus six other celebrity Clinton imitators:
1. Karl Rove
Rove's Clinton impersonation "was good enough that one senses it wasn't his first time doing that particular act," says The Atlantic's Franke-Ruta:
2. Phil Hartman
For many people, Hartman's Clinton is the definitive Clinton impersonation — and this Saturday Night Live skit, at the beginning of Clinton's first term, is the one that sealed that reputation. So much foreshadowing:
3. Darrell Hammond
Hammond is probably technically a better Clinton than the sorely missed Hartman. And his "I. Am. Bulletproof." line after the impeachment fiasco is a high point in the canon of Clinton mimicry. Here, Hammond faces the ultimate Clinton impersonation challenge, at the 1997 Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner:
Natives of the British Isles don't always do the best Southern American accents — see: Oliver, John. But Ireland's Bono, when he's not busy fronting the band U2 or saving the world, pulls off a very passable Clinton, at a November 2012 speech to Georgetown University:
5. Matt Damon
Damon doesn't just have a good Clinton imitation up his sleeve, as displayed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in December 2012. He also has a good story about the 42nd president:
6. Frank Caliendo
Okay, most of this video is Caliendo doing his George W. Bush impersonation, back when people did that sort of thing (i.e. 2007). But in the middle of this stand-out performance, on the Late Show with David Letterman, the MADtv alumnus busts out a spot-on Bill Clinton. He has us with these words: "I am not here."
7. Kevin Spacey
Spacey does lots of impersonations — he trotted out a bunch, by request, during a taping of Inside the Actors Studio. After the 2012 election, Spacey wowed — or maybe confused? — a British audience by breaking out his Clinton voice at an AIDS charity gala in London. The Telegraph described it as "a curious Southern drawl," noting that "no one quite knew what to make of it, but Spacey, at least, looked like he was having a good time." A year earlier, Spacey had put his Clinton impersonation to better use, in a celebrity-filled Funny or Die skit:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- The hidden reason for the student loan crisis
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Wounded in Boston, two brothers endure
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- The Democrats have a mega-donor problem
Subscribe to the Week