Secrets of Past Elections Revealed! (1992)

After every presidential election since 1984, Newsweek has printed the best gossipy stories, revealing all the whining and backbiting of America's greatest spectacle. Linda Rodriguez has gone through Newsweek's archives to pick out some memorable moments from recent elections, and we'll be posting her stories throughout the week.

George Bush the elder had just spent four years trying to refashion America into a "kinder and gentler" nation. But by the 1992 election, the American people didn't so much feel like being kinder or gentler with George Bush, especially with the economy in the crapper, rising violence in the nation's urban centers, and high deficit spending. Clinton had such a lock on the election that Newsweek didn't wait until after the votes were in to publish their behind-the-scenes, inside-the-campaign tell-all, instead publishing on November 1st.

No really, there was a nefarious plot"¦

When Texas billionaire Ross Perot abruptly dropped out of 1992 presidential election, his surprisingly numerous supporters felt blindsided, disappointed and a little angry. It wasn't until a few months later that they found away why Perot had walked away from what was becoming a real campaign. During an interview on 60 Minutes, Perot claimed that he did it to protect his daughter. According to Perot, his daughter Carolyn's wedding was in danger of being disrupted by a nefarious Republican plot to embarrass her with lurid and ostensibly doctored photographed. And this same nefarious plot included some sort of disruption of the wedding day itself. And there was this other nefarious plot to tap his phones. Perot had no proof that either plot existed, but hey, a man can't be too careful with his daughter's happiness, now can he? (It was later discovered that the man who told Perot about the plots actually made it up, in an effort to discredit Bush.)

Perot jumped back in the race in September, after he was able to get his name on ballots in 50 states, but he was never able to regain the momentum he had in July. Still, Perot was a real candidate: He was the first third-party candidate to participate in the final televised presidential debate and he ultimately carried 18.9 percent of the popular vote.

I'd like to thank the Academy

After Bill Clinton won the election, the third call he took—after George Bush's concession and Dan Quayle's congratulations—was from Whoopi Goldberg. Still, you can't accuse Clinton for being entirely a slave to celebrity—when Ivana Trump dropped by the Arkansas Governor's Mansion to pay an unannounced visit to the President Elect, she was politely turned away.

The original flip-flopper?

clinton-sax.jpgDespite their dissatisfaction with President George Bush, voters still had a little difficulty getting on board with the Clinton campaign. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some voters felt that they couldn't trust him and Clinton's campaign knew it. Clinton's handlers had conducted a covert operation they called the "Manhattan Project" in which they asked a series of focus groups what they didn't like about the candidate. Reactions from Allentown, PA, included: "Two-faced"; "He just goes with the flow"; and, "If you asked his favorite color, he'd say, "˜Plaid.'"

Even Clinton's lead strategist, the Ragin' Cajun James Carville, reportedly said once, "I've had blind dates with women I've known more about than I know about Clinton." (On another James Carville-related note, it was just after this election that he married Mary Matalin "“ lifelong Republican and one of Bush's chief strategists.)

Bush almost didn't run for re-election

Bush very sincerely considered not running for re-election. His 1988 campaign had left him battered and scarred, primarily by his own campaign's meanness and willingness to go for the jugular. Barbara didn't exactly love White House life and Bush hated the burden his presidency had put on his family. Bush not only hadn't started campaigning, but he hadn't even decided whether or not to run by January 1992; all the while, Democrats were landing broadsides, publicly taking Bush to task for the declining state of the economy (of course, voters of 2008 might teach the voters of 1992 a thing or two about a declining economy).

The dynamic duo of Waffle Man and Ozone and Bush's last stand

During the last weeks of the campaign, Bush seemed to be closing the gap on Clinton, who for most of the campaign season had boasted polling points far and away above Bush's. After months of being so far down, the President was jazzed like a 10-year-old on Red Bull at a Hannah Montana concert. He traveled around the country, railing against Clinton and Gore, referring to them respectively as "the Waffle Man" and "Ozone," at one campaign stop, even calling the candidates "those two bozos." Barbara and Bush's handlers thought that last one might have gone too far. "Jeez, you guys, lighten up," Bush replied. "I was just being funny."

Bush, by this time, was in revolt. He was tired of losing, tired of being told what to do "“ especially since it didn't appear to be winning any elections for him "“ and ready to get petulant. His favorite bumper sticker at this point: ANNOY THE MEDIA: RE-ELECT BUSH. He even refused to let his hair grow out, even though his team said it looked better on television a little longer, and refused to give up his favorite, so loud it was shrieking red, white and blue necktie. "You're in full-throttle handler revolt," one of his handlers told him one day.

Bush's reprieve from loser-land lasted only a short time "“ after an Iran-contra case court filing indicated that Bush had supported the American hostages for weapons swap, Clinton soared ahead again, and the rest is political history.

Previously: 1988, 1984

Mad Magazine
12 Things You Might Not Know About MAD Magazine
Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

As fast as popular culture could erect wholesome depictions of American life in comics, television, or movies, MAD Magazine was there to tear them all down. A near-instant success for EC Comics upon its debut in 1952, the magazine has inspired generations of comedians for its pioneering satirical attitude and tasteful booger jokes. This month, DC Entertainment is relaunching an "all new" MAD, skewering pop culture on a bimonthly basis and in full color. To fill the gaps in your knowledge, take a look at these facts about the Usual Gang of Idiots.


Jamie, Flickr (L) // Boston Public Library, Flickr (R) // CC BY 2.0

MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman was in the offices of a Ballantine Books editor discussing reprints for the fledging publication when he noticed a grinning, gap-toothed imbecile staring back at him from a bulletin board. The unnamed figure was ubiquitous in the early 20th century, appearing in everything from dentistry ads to depictions of diseases. A charmed Kurtzman adopted him as MAD’s mascot beginning in 1954. Neuman later become so recognizable that a letter was delivered from New Zealand to MAD’s New York offices without an address: the envelope simply had a drawing of Alfred.  


MAD was conceived during a particularly sensitive time for the comics industry, with parents and watchdog groups concerned over content. (It didn't switch to a magazine format until issue #24.) Kurtzman usually knew where the line was, but when he was laid up with acute hepatitis in 1952, publisher William Gaines and others had to step in for him. Gaines thought it would be funny to offer a fictional biography of himself that detailed his father’s Communist leanings, his past as a dope dealer “near nursery schools,” and bouts of pyromania. When wholesalers were shocked at the content and threatened to boycott all of his titles, Gaines was forced to write a letter of apology.  


But it was a cheat. In the run-up to the 1960 Presidential election, MAD printed a cover that featured Neuman congratulating Kennedy on his victory with a caption that read, “We were with you all the way, Jack!” But the issue was shipped long before votes had been tabulated. The secret? It was a dual cover. Flip it over and Neuman is celebrating Richard Nixon’s appointment to office. Stores were told to display the “right” side of the magazine depending on the outcome.


MAD Magazine

A character named Moxie Cowznofski was introduced in the late 1950s as a female companion for Alfred. She made only a handful of cover appearances, possibly due to the fact she looked alarmingly like her significant other.


From the beginning, Gaines felt that printing actual advertisements next to the products they were lampooning would not only dilute their edge but seem more than a little hypocritical. After some back-and-forth, MAD cut ads starting in 1957. The decision was a costly one—most print publications survive on such revenue—but led to the magazine’s keeping a sharp knife against the throat of seductive advertising, including cigarettes. Faced with dwindling circulation in 2001, Mad finally relented and began taking ads to help pay for a switch to color printing.


Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias was disenchanted with the regime under Fidel Castro when he began working on what would become “Spy vs. Spy.” Because Prohias’ other newspaper illustrations were critical of Castro, the Cuban government suspected him of working for the CIA. He wasn’t, but the perception had him worried harm might come to his co-workers. To get out of the situation, Prohias came to America in 1960. With his daughter helping translate, he stopped by Mad’s New York offices and submitted his work: his sneaky, triangle-headed spies became regulars.


Artist Al Jaffee, now 94, has been with Mad almost from the beginning. He created the famous Fold-In—the back cover that reveals a new picture when doubled over—in 1964 after seeing the fold-outs in magazines like National Geographic, Playboy, and Life. Jaffee has rarely missed an issue since—but editors backtracked on one of Jaffee’s works that referenced a mass shooting in 2013. Citing poor taste, they destroyed over 600,000 copies.  


With the exception of Fox’s successful sketch series, 1994’s MAD TV, attempts to translate the MAD brand into other media have been underwhelming: a 1974 animated special didn’t even make it on air. But a 1980 film venture, a military school spoof directed by Robert Downey, Sr. titled Mad Presents Up the Academy, was so awful William Gaines demanded to have their name taken off of it. (Renamed Up the Academy, the DVD release of the movie still features someone sporting an Alfred E. Neuman mask; Mad parodied it in a spoof titled “Throw Up the Academy.”)


MAD Magazine

MAD has never made a habit of good taste, but a depiction of a raised middle finger for one issue in the mid-’70s caused a huge stir. Many stores wouldn’t stock it for fear of offending customers, and the company ended up accepting an irregular number of returns. Gaines took to his typewriter to write a letter of apology. Again. The relaunched #1, out in April 2018, pays homage to this cover, though it's slightly more tasteful: Neuman is picking his nose with his middle finger.


MAD writer Tom Koch was amused by the convoluted rules of sports and attempted to one-up them in 43-Man Squamish, a game he invented for the April 1965 issue. Koch and artist George Woodbridge (“MAD’s Athletic Council”) prepared a guide that was utterly incomprehensible—the field was to have five sides, positions included Deep Brooders and Dummies, “interfering with the Wicket Men” constituted a penalty—but it amused high school and college readers enough to try and mount their own games. (Short on players? Try 2-Man Squamish: “The rules are identical,” Koch wrote, “except the object of the game is to lose.”) For the less physically inclined, Mad also issued a board game in which the goal is to lose all of your money.  


In what must be some kind of fulfilled prophecy, lyrical satirist “Weird” Al Yankovic was named as a guest editor—their first—for the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Yankovic told Entertainment Weekly that MAD had put him on “the dark, twisted path to becoming who I am today … I needed to pollute my mind with that kind of stuff.” In addition to his collaborations with the staff, Yankovic enlisted Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, and Chris Hardwick to contribute.


In a scene so surreal even MAD’s irreverent editors would have had trouble dreaming it up, Fred Astaire decided to sport an Alfred E. Neuman mask for a dance number in his 1959 television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. No one seems to recall why exactly Astaire would do this—he may have just wanted to include a popular cultural reference—but it was no off-the-cuff decision. Astaire hired movie make-up veteran John Chambers (Planet of the Apes) to craft a credible mask of Neuman. The result is … well, kind of disturbing. But it’s a fitting addition to a long tradition of people going completely MAD.

Additional Sources:
Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America.

Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?

GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]


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