Why does compile take so much longer for ESP vs arduino??

I am currently trying to weed out a crash. It's taking hours because the darn complile takes 2 minutes each time.

Make sure you're using Arduino IDE 1.8.8 and the newest version of the ESP8266 core for Arduino. In earlier versions, there was an issue that caused compilation caching to not work. I believe this has now been resolved. Caching speeds up subsequent compilations significantly. Even so, ESP8266 is slow going. The uploads take a long time too!

Thanks, 1.8.8 is a little faster.

It takes longer because there's a couple 100k worth of TCP/IP and operating system code that needs to be compiled, as well as the Arduino core and libraries, plus your sketch.
The esp8266 core is about 3MB, while the Uno core is about 400KB.
(still, 2 minutes seems excessive. I can compile Blink for ESP in about 10s. Do you have some important directory located on some slow network resource, or something?)

Also, antivirus programs that do on-access / real-time scanning can also dramatically slow compile times, because they want to scan all the source files and intermediate files produced.