A Never-Ending History of Ted Cruz Using ‘The Simpsons’ to Try to Prove He’s Funny
Some things you can’t really fake, no matter how much you’d like to in order to further your political career. Look at, for example, Ron DeSantis trying his very best to interact with another human in a way that wouldn’t get him double-tapped posthaste in a The Thing situation. I think we’re all clued in enough at this point to know that in the political world, personality is a big part of victory. Actual policy stances and proposals are the Terms & Conditions portion of installing someone into power.
So it makes sense that with his big dreams and vacuous personality, Ted Cruz has been trying his damnedest for what feels like forever to convince people that they could make it through a beer with him without faking a veterinary emergency. Specifically, he wants, very badly, to be funny. Which makes sense, because humor is maybe the single most valuable currency when it comes to being a good hang. You can get away with a whole lot of flaws as long as you’re good for a couple solid lines per party.
Unfortunately, Cruz is not funny, as his attempts at his own, original humor prove. So what’s a man who wants to be funny, but is not, to do? Well, there’s a classic, well-worn half-strategy, half-coping-mechanism exercised by everyone from frat bros to dull dating profiles: constant quotes from people who are. It operates on a level similar to people who convince themselves they could paint a Jackson Pollock: “I understand the joke, which means my brain has successfully processed it, which is halfway to writing it myself.”
For his most frequent ammunition, he’s chosen a popular well: The Simpsons. Regardless of politics, there’s plenty of people who’ve chosen to mortar together a personality out of appreciation of The Simpsons. What’s weird about it always is that it’s an attempt to set yourself apart… by proving your enjoyment of a show that’s soundly and globally beloved. It’s like hanging out at a record show repeatedly asking if anyone else likes the Beatles.
The first Simpsons-themed “fellow funny people” Twitter post I was able to locate came in April 2012, when Cruz was still just a natural-born Canadian citizen launching a Senate campaign, before he’d win his seat in November of that year. Posted on Tax Day, it was a link to a clip of Homer booing the IRS. Tacked on to it, of course, was some wild Tea Party bullshit, namely the hashtag #AbolishTheIRS. A classic move of taking what’s a pretty off-hand joke and slamming your own beliefs into it like a frustrated child who’s had about enough of a peg-and-hole game. I don’t like the IRS either, but I also think they’re probably necessary so that every billionaire in the country doesn’t report an income of zero (more than they already do).
This might have been a political view leaning more toward libertarianism than modern xenophobic conservatism, but it’s still running into a pretty inescapable problem: Comedy writers are a pretty left-leaning bunch. I understand that it must suck to feel like you’re completely unrepresented in media just because you support land mines along the Southern border, but that’s the lunchroom table you’ve chosen. You’ll watch Gutfeld!, and you’ll like it!
Maybe leading off his past references, his Simpsons love came up again in an interview with thesaurus-toting medium-effort troll Ben Domenech. In between getting fired three days into a gig at the Washington Post for plagiarism accusations and hoovering up dirty Malaysian money, Domenech welcomed Cruz to his radio show, and Cruz shared his favorite Simpsons episodes. His professed love here would be the first time he garnered actual, direct disgust from the people involved in what seems to be one of his favorite shows.
Undeterred, or perhaps choosing to live fully in denial that it was in fact the showrunner who didn’t understand what the show’s beliefs were, Cruz doubled down in 2015 — though I don’t know if what he decided to do is even accurately exemplified by that saying. He liquidated his assets, went to the casino ATM, withdrew every penny over however many hours and withdrawal waiting periods that would require and pushed all those chips onto the table. He decided to put on public record his impersonations of Simpsons characters.
I cannot emphasize enough how deeply you should think about your choice before ever doing an impression. Even as someone who has a lifetime of “funny” credit banked, among a circle of your closest friends, it’s an absolute nuclear football of a decision. Gone wrong, it will be a central subject of discussion among them, whether you’re there or not, for the rest of your life. For anyone who has not already had verifiable national acclaim for their skills, making a good-faith attempt at an impression publicly available on the internet is the reputational equivalent of trying to fire a bottle rocket out of your asshole at a party. Surprise surprise, it did not go well, and the only response he earned from the Simpsons staff was more shots taken at him, which I assume he thought were “love bullets” meant to roast him, as a peer.
Like clockwork, three years later, Cruz decided to invoke his Simpsons love again. I don't know why he seems to follow this regular schedule, like some sort of reverse mating call, but it’s a pattern that emerges. Maybe three years is roughly the amount of time it takes to completely rebuild a sense of self-esteem. This time, he again proved his inability to parse the broad messages and intentions of a show created for all ages. He claimed that the 2018 Republican Party, the worst version (then) of a party people already weren’t fond of, would have been the side of choice of every Simpsons family member except Lisa. This is probably because Lisa is the only character on the show who speaks without metaphor, irony or subtext. After this, not only did the Simpsons staff once again virtually laugh to his face, but did so with their arms jovially hung around the shoulders of the rest of the internet. Again, Cruz stifled his misguided fandom and retreated to his hole.
Cut forward three years (okay, and 20 days) to January 20, 2022, when, via a quote tweet, he managed to be oblivious to two things at once. He retweeted a screenshot from The Simpsons where Tom Hanks says the “U.S. government has lost its credibility, so it’s borrowing some of mine” that was accompanied by the caption “Oh my gosh it’s The Simpsons in real life.” Excited, I guess, to make the joke he’d just read again, like a toddler at a family gathering, he “added” the common refrain “The Simpsons did it first!”
A phrase he’d maybe been excited to break out ever since it was accurately dropped on him when he fled/vacationed to Cancun in the middle of catastrophic Texas winter blackouts. Though, given his inability to detect satire, he probably thinks Mayor Quimby is beloved by Springfieldians for his laid-back, personable approach to politics.
So, begin inhaling now in order to let out the inevitable sigh that we’re due for in 2025 when Cruz once again shows his ass in a desperate bid to connect with someone, anyone that doesn’t think drivers’ licenses are a government psy-op. Until then, he will be lurking on a Simpsons subreddit or forum, using a burner account that’s still hated by that community, even without knowing the account holder’s true identity.