'The Simpsons' cast and fans respond to Mike Pompeo's tweet: 'Such a perfect self-own'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

As America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is tasked with maintaining peaceful relationships between the United States and the rest of the world. With one late-night tweet, though, he unwittingly picked a fight with a formidable domestic opponent: Simpsons Nation. Following the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, Pompeo posted an image from an early episode of Fox’s long-running animated series on his personal Twitter account. The image in question comes from the 1991 episode, “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington,” and depicts middle Simpsons sibling, Lisa, shredding a stack of paper while tearing up. Many instantly took it as a reference to the night’s most-memed moment: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tearing up her copy of Trump’s speech mere moments after he finished speaking.

Reaction to Pompeo’s Simpsons shoutout was swift and savage — and no one was more savage than Lisa Simpson herself, Yeardley Smith. Earlier today, the actress fired back at the Secretary of State for “co-opting” her character.

Former Simpsons scribe, Bill Oakley, also weighed in, diplomatically requesting that Pompeo refrain from ever appropriating the show in order to score political points.

After that, it was open season for Simpsons fans, who mercilessly ridiculed Pompeo in replies to his Tweet.

One common thread to emerge from the long thread of replies is how Pompeo either willfully misinterpreted — or just plain missed the point of — the episode he was referencing. Written by George Meyer, who penned such classic early Simpsons episodes as “Bart vs. Thanksgiving” and “Homer the Heretic,” “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” follows Lisa on a trip to the nation’s capitol in order to read a speech extolling what America means to her. Once in Washington D.C., though, she gets a crash course in the political swamp when she discovers that her congressman, Bob Arnold, is on the payroll of Big Timber. At that point, she rips up her prepared text and writes a new monologue, one whose message is summarized in the beyond-caustic title: “Cesspool on the Potomac.”

With that important piece of context in place, the image Pompeo selected seems more like an endorsement of Pelosi than a condemnation. And in a private meeting with fellow Democrats, the Speaker channeled Lisa’s disgust, reportedly saying: “He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech. What we heard last night was a disgrace.” Instead of owning Pelosi, Twitter is noting how Pompeo apparently committed the ultimate self-own.

For the record, Pompeo isn’t the first Republican politician to have a Simpsons reference backfire on them. In 1990, First Lady Barbara Bush famously called the show “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” inspiring family matriarch Marge (voiced by Julie Kavner) to write a widely-publicized letter that healed the rift. Two years later, though, President George H.W. Bush re-opened old wounds by remarking that he wanted America to be “a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” That tiff led to the 1996 episode, “Two Bad Neighbors,” where the 41st POTUS and FLOTUS move next door to the Simpsons and George Bush gives Bart a spanking. Since history has a way of repeating itself, don’t be surprised if Pompeo’s animated avatar visits Springfield in the next few years to attend Lisa’s next big speech.

The Simpsons is currently streaming on Disney+.

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