George H. W. Bush vomiting incident

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Frame from an ABC News video of Barbara Bush holding a napkin in front of President George H.W. Bush's face as he vomits

The George H.W. Bush vomiting incident, the only documented occurrence of a US President vomiting on a Foreign dignitary, occurred on January 8, 1992, about 8:20 p.m. JST. U.S. President George H.W. Bush fainted after vomiting at a banquet hosted by the then Prime Minister of Japan, Kiichi Miyazawa.


On January 8, 1992, Bush was attending a state event for 135 diplomats held at the home of the Japanese Prime Minister, near the end of the President's 12-day trade-oriented trip through Asia. Earlier that day Bush had played a doubles tennis match in which the Emperor of Japan Akihito and his son the Crown Prince Naruhito beat Bush and his partner, a former U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Bush later made comments to the press that he had a 24-hour flu bug.[citation needed]

Effects of the incident[edit]

The incident was widely reported,[1] and quickly became fodder for the nation's comedians. Footage of the President vomiting was broadcast on the ABC network.

Shortly after the incident, an Idaho man, James Edward Smith, called CNN posing as the president's physician and claimed that Bush had died. A CNN employee entered the information into a centralized computer used by both CNN and sister network CNN Headline News, and Headline News nearly aired it before it could be verified. Smith was subsequently questioned by the Secret Service and hospitalized at a private medical facility for evaluation.[2]

In Japan, even several years later, Bush was best remembered for this event.[3] According to the Encyclopedia of political communication, "The incident caused a wave of late night television jokes and ridicule in the international community, even coining Bushu-suru which literally means 'to do the Bush thing'."[4]

According to USA Today, the incident was one of the top "25 memorable public meltdowns that had us talking and laughing or cringing over the past quarter-century." [5]

In popular culture[edit]

The incident has been parodied in several television comedy shows and at least one feature film:

  • Saturday Night Live presented a parody skit of the incident in the form of an Oliver Stone conspiracy movie.[6]
  • In the "Two Bad Neighbors" episode of The Simpsons, Bush tells Homer Simpson that he will "ruin you like a Japanese banquet!"
  • In his Golden Globes acceptance speech as Best Actor in Comedy or Musical, Robin Williams impersonated Bush during the incident.
  • In the pilot episode of King of the Hill, Hank Hill says "Detroit hasn't felt any real pride since George Bush went to Japan and vomited on their auto-executives."
  • The 1993 film Hot Shots! Part Deux also lampooned the incident.[7]
  • The 1994 satirical travel-diary book Dave Barry Does Japan briefly mentions the incident in a statement similar to the King of the Hill quote above
  • In the 1996 film High School High Teacher Richard Clark (Jon Lovitz) asks his class who was the first President to blow chunks at a Japanese Head of State. (The character makes a misstatement, the correct term would have been Head of Government.)
  • In his 1997 novel Einstein's Bridge, physicist and writer John G. Cramer mentioned the event briefly.[8]
  • A satirical book featuring the incident[9] and an art exhibit with an image of it were reviewed in 2000.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wines, Michael (January 9, 1992). "Bush Collapses at State Dinner With the Japanese". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-28. President Bush fell suddenly ill and collapsed at a state dinner being given for him Wednesday night at the home of the Japanese Prime Minister. 
  2. ^ McDougal, Dennis (1992-01-10). "CNN Averts Hoax About Bush's 'Death'". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Peter McKillop, "Letter from Japan: Back to the Future: Will George W. Bush carry on his father's (barfing) legacy?, Time Asia found at Time Asia archives. Accessed September 19, 2009.
  4. ^ Lynda Lee Kaid and Christina Holtz-Bacha, Encyclopedia of Political Communication, Volume 1, p. 72, (SAGE, 2008), ISBN 978-1-4129-1799-5, found at Google Books. Accessed September 19, 2009.
  5. ^ "They did what, said what?". USA Today. May 7, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Bad Sushi". YouTube. 2006-07-23. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  7. ^ "Youtube Hot Shot Part Deux - Trailer". 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  8. ^ John Cramer (1 May 1998). Einstein's Bridge. HarperCollins. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-380-78831-6. Alice looked at [George] suspiciously, "You guys had something to do with the famous International Upchuck?" 
  9. ^ M. G. LORD (2000-01-23). "Kiss My Lips". NY Times Review of Books. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 
  10. ^ Amy, Michael (January 2000). "Robert Selwyn at Steffany Martz". Art in America 88 (1): 118.