Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Rhetoric and Public Address

Department or School/College

Department of Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Sara Hayden

Commitee Members

Lucian Conway, Steve Schwarze


Burke, George W. Bush, humor, Lil' Bush, rhetoric


University of Montana


In light of former president George W. Bush’s remarkably low approval ratings during the later years of his administration, the Comedy Central program Lil’ Bush seemed to be a satiric outlet for societal angst. A closer examination of the show, however, reveals that its content is funny, but does more to entertain than it does to criticize. Using the dichotomy of Burke’s comedic and humorous frames as a standard for analysis, this thesis probes the program to determine the nature of its humor. Although the show does include some critiques of George W. Bush and the federal executive branch as a whole, it does not do so with enough gusto to catalyze hard-hitting satire. In fact, the show’s efforts are mostly comedic, in Burkean terms, and lend themselves more toward a happy romp than a scathing criticism. Since the show’s target audience is “the irony demo,” a slice of society whose political knowledge is gained from consumption of entertainment than it is from more traditional sources (e.g. the nightly news), its failure to live up to its satiric veneer may have a significant impact on this group’s political engagement.



© Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Anne Sills