In the cold open for the season finale of âSaturday Night Live,â the âTrump administrationâ bid farewell, as Alec Baldwin and other cast members sangÂ a mournful âHallelujahâ around the piano.
After that, another duo stepped in to fill the political void. Sort of.
Actor Dwayne âThe Rockâ Johnson, who was hosting the show for a fifth time, made a dramatic announcement in his opening monologue: He was putting the persistent rumorsÂ âÂ some fueled by his own statements âÂ to rest âonce and for all.â
âStarting tonight, I am running for the president of the United States!â Johnson thundered, to applause.
He had even chosen a running mate, he joked.
Tom HanksÂ stepped onto the stage and feigned embarrassment as the audience cheeredÂ his surprise appearance.
âDwayne, Dwayne, Dwayne, I could not possibly â¦ turn this down!â Hanks said. âIâll do it!â
With subtle digs at Trump, the two discussed why they would be âunstoppableâ candidates. Johnson mused that he would have never considered running for president in the past because he didnât think he was qualified.
âBut now Iâm actually worried that Iâm too qualified,â he said.
âThe truth is, America needs us,â Hanks said. âNo one can seem to agree on anything anymore, except for two things.â
âPizza,â Johnson said, âand us!â
The pair also pondered their universal likability: Hanks noted that he had been in two movies inÂ which the plane crashes â âand people are still excited to see me on their flight.â Meanwhile, Johnson said he once ran a red light; the traffic camera footage alone made a billion dollars, he joked.
They talked demographics.
âI would get the senior vote,â Hanks reasoned. âBecause Iâve fought in World War II in, like, 10 different movies.â
âAnd I, of course, would get the minority vote,â Johnson said. âBecause everyone just assumes that Iâm, well, whatever they are.â
Though the two were joking, that didnât stop people from jumping onto the âJohnson/Hanks 2020â³ bandwagon. Many acknowledged it was a joke but couldnât contain their enthusiasm about the hypothetical ticket.
Dwayne Johnson and Tom Hanks have my vote in 2020. #SNLFinale
â Catherine Dair (@catherinedair) May 21, 2017
â Lil’ Peggy Snowflake (@rmecheeya) May 21, 2017
Overnight,Â T-shirts and buttons sprang up.
Johnson finally acknowledged that they were just kidding. Or were they?
âWhen it comes to politics, we need more poise and less noise,â Johnson said, to cheers. âAmericans deserve strong capable leaders. Leaders who care about this country and care about its people.â
Hanks turned to Johnson.
âUh, Dwayne, that kind of sounds like you and me,â Hanks told him. âI guess we got to do it. Câmon!â
Behind them, a âJOHNSON HANKS 2020â³ banner unfurled and confetti rained from above, as a band played a celebratory march.
Cool piece on why I should run for President. Maybe one day. Surely the White House has a spot for my pick up truck..https://t.co/JpkZ4w1eh3
â Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) March 25, 2016
Rumors that Johnson might launch a presidential bid have floated in the ether for some time. Though it was once an outright joke, it now occupies a space that is not quite real and yet not absurdist fantasy. And Johnsonâs outright acknowledgment that he has considered a political careerÂ has only fueled the speculation.
Formerly a registered Republican, Johnson is now a registered independent.Â He has mentioned several times in the last year that heÂ is not ruling out a run.Â The rumors have reached such a pitch that Public PolicyÂ Polling actually conducted a recent surveyÂ that indicated âThe Rockâ wouldÂ lead Trump in a hypothetical 2020 election.
In a recent profile in GQ magazine, Johnson told reporter Caity Weaver that both Trumpâs and Hillary Clintonâs campaigns had sought his endorsement. When asked how Trump was performing as president, Johnson gave a surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly) meandering non-answer. He later told Weaver that he disagreed with Trumpâs entry ban.
âI believe in our national security to the core, but I donât believe in a âbanâ that bans immigrants,â Johnson said, according to GQ magazine. âI believe in inclusion. Our country was built on that, and it continues to be made strong by that. And the decision felt like a snap judgment.â
And just a few days before the SNL season finale, Johnson appeared on âThe Tonight Show,â where he again teased a possible run for president.
âThree and a half years is a long ways away,â Johnson told host Jimmy Fallon. âSo weâll see.â