With every passing election year, the statistical likelihood increases that we'll elect a U.S. president who's really a robot, or an alien. Or maybe a charismatic plant, grown in some kind of tank. How will you recognize a non-human candidate for president when one comes along? And more importantly, which non-human would be the best pres?
Check out our handy guide to aliens, mutants and robots who have occupied the Oval Office. And then vote for your favorite non-human Commander-in-Chief, in our handy poll.
Top image: 5Auge on Flickr.
Superman ran for president in the alternate future of Armageddon 2001... and won. I mean, who's going to vote against Super-POTUS? Okay, there's a legal challenge to Superman's right to run for president, because of the whole "being an alien" thing, but then the Supreme Court rules (amazingly quickly) that Superman was born in America. You see, that rocket that brought him to Kansas from Krypton was like an artificial womb, and it didn't "give birth" to him until it landed. Really. As president, Clark is kind of a big-government liberal, solving the Earth's environmental problems with orbital solar power stations, achieving world peace and balancing the federal budget. (Aquaman finds a ton of gold in a submerged freighter, which pays off the U.S. trade balance.) And Superman ends terrorism. All in his first day in office. We don't get to see if Batman becomes Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but I'm betting he does. What I love about that "what if" issue (Action Comics Annual #3) is that Clark's presidency never goes horribly wrong, to show why Superman shouldn't be president. It's all pretty much great and wonderful... and then it ends.
President Kang, from the Simpsons, gets a bum rap just because he turned the entire population of the U.S. into slave labor to build a humongous ray gun to aim at another planet. He solved the unemployment problem! Plus do you really think his opponent, Kodos, would have done a better job? I think not. (In "Treehouse Of Horror VII," Kang and Kodos take the place of Bill Clinton and Robert Dole, and even after Homer exposes their deception, they still convince the American public that a vote for the human Ross Perot is throwing their vote away.) After everyone's enslaved, Homer says "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos."
Alien President Kennedy, from Teen Titans Lost Annual #1. I promise I am not making this up. In a "lost annual" that came out in 2008 (but was designed to look like it was published in the 1960s) the Teen Titans discover that President Kennedy has been replaced with an alien shape-shifter. They travel to the aliens' homeworld to discover what's up. It turns out two alien races are trapped in a never-ending war, and one set of aliens has kidnapped JFK to serve as their general. To remind the brainwashed JFK of his true identity, the Titans have to reenact JFK's most traumatic memories from World War II. Finally, they jog his memory, and JFK starts negotiating a peace treaty between the warring alien races. Then the Titans take JFK back to Earth to resume his presidency - only to discover the alien imposter has been assassinated in Dallas while they were away. Because it would be too confusing to restore the real JFK to power, they end up taking him back to the alien planet so he can finish brokering a peace deal there. Yes, Titans scribe Bob Haney did a lot of drugs during the actual sixties.
Cryptosporidium, the evil alien in the Destroy All Humans video game, assassinated the U.S. president back in the late 1950s, and various Cryptosporidium clones impersonated the president and served with distinction for many years.
Bill Clinton was also replaced with an alien clone in the humor-esque film 2001: A Space Travesty, starring (of course) Leslie Nielsen. The real president is hidden on the moon, and it's up to Leslie to save him. This film is best known for including the Stifficus Constellation, a constellation shaped like an erect penis. Also, there's a "rising moon" sequence involving a bare butt.
Also, Michael Dukakis becomes president in the Robert Sheckley short story — but is eventually revealed to be an evil alien, in the anthology Alternate Presidents.
The Fantastic Four's frenemy Impossible Man, from the 10th Galaxy, also impersonated the U.S. president at one point, when the cyborg Dethlok was trying to assassinate the pres. But that only sort of counts.
ALF actually ran for president - and won - in the episode "Hail To The Chief." But it turned out to be only a dream sequence. I still think it sorta counts - was anything in ALF actually supposed to be real?
In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #2, the charismatic Senator Frank Knight is murdered by a shapeshifting robot known as Gonzo The Mechanical Bastard, which takes his place. Since Senator Knight is already ahead in the polls in the presidential election, it's a simple matter for the android to become president of the U.S. How evil is this robo-pres? As Senator Knight is bleeding to death, his cyber-doppelganger promises to seduce the Senator's daughter, who's the Phantom Lady, and have incestuous robot sex with her. In the Oval Office. One time at Comic-Con, I asked co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti about this comic book, and he basically said nobody was reading USAFF, so he and Justin Gray just figured they should go as crazy as they could.
Robots also tried to replace the president in Ben 10, but I'm not sure they actually succeeded.
And there's a robot president at the World's Fair in the Firesign Theater album I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus, but I'm not clear on whether it's meant to be the real president.
At least nobody would question the experience, leadership or courage of our benevolent President Executron.
Also, John Quincy Adding Machine became the first robot president, winning by exactly one vote according to Futurama. Voters were won over by his campaign pledge not to go on a killing spree, but like most politicians, he couldn't quite keep all his promises.
And then there's this guy.
Captain America didn't just punch out Richard Nixon, he also battled a hideously mutated Ronald Reagan. Viper and the evil Serpent Society put a chemical into the Washington D.C. water supply that would mutate anyone who drank it into a snake monster. Captain America finally put a stop to this scheme, but first he had to battle the mutant snake version of President Reagan. Just another example of business as usual in Washington.
There's also Leo Barnett, the two-term president in George R.R. Martin's Wildcards universe. There are odd hints that Barnett may actually be a mutant. He's certainly infected with the Wild Cards virus.
You could argue that Sylar, who became president in an evil alternate future in Heroes, is a mutant rather than a plain old human.
So which of these upstanding leaders would you prefer to lead America through the challenges of the early 21st century?
This article originally appeared on io9 in September 2008.