Starting from the question
name a piece of culture (book, movie, album, TV show, etc.) that “exemplifies what it was like to be alive in the age of George W. Bush”
Phil Ford notes that
Historical epochs do have deep structures of sensibility…
So we can all see how the torture apologetics of 24 play into the Bush II zeitgeist. I’m not going to argue against that — any future study of American culture in the Bush II era will doubtless (and correctly) point to 24 as Exhibit A of an America scared shitless and consoling itself with the spectacle of tough guys torturing bad guys.
I resolve to keep an eye peeled for others. Not irrelevant: my own posting from January of James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here”