After a week of vacation, Stephen Colbert returned to the Late Show in the wake of Texas’s energy crisis in which record freezing temperatures felled the state’s unprepared, unregulated power grid, stranding millions without electricity, heat or water for days. “And you know what they say: when the going gets tough, Ted Cruz gets gone,” Colbert quipped, skewering the Texas senator who was photographed at an airport, bound for Cancún with his family, as his constituents froze.
Facing intense criticism for the trip, Cruz “immediately swallowed his pride, pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and threw his daughters under a bus”, Colbert added, with a statement in which he blamed the vacation on his two daughters who “asked to take a trip with their friends”, and “wanting to be a good dad”.
“See, he was just being a good dad!” Colbert said. “Unlike all those terrible fathers who are huddling with their kids for warmth.”
Cruz attempted to staunch the PR nightmare by returning a day later, which he claimed was always the plan. But according to a United Airlines leak, Cruz was initially booked to return home days later. “Oh, that’s embarrassing,” Colbert said. “Plus he was in coach, so they charged him $25 to check his douchebag.”
On Late Night, Seth Meyers also addressed the fallout from the Texas energy debacle, in which local municipalities were largely unable to aid residents because, in the words of one Texas official, “we rely on the private sector for our everyday needs”.
“Ah, yes, the private sector, the same people who brought you the Zune, Spirit airlines and Jared Leto’s Joker,” Meyers deadpanned.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure we should get our food and water during a crisis from the same people who spent a week shitting their pants when a bunch of Redditors drove up the stock price of a video game store,” he added. “If you could wreak havoc on the markets by telling your internet buds to buy stock in Blockbuster as a goof, maybe don’t put those same markets in charge of, I don’t know, electricity?”
Nevertheless, Meyers continued, conservative media has found a way to blame the crisis on its favorite bogeymen: the progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal, which has not been implemented on either the federal level or in Texas. The Fox News host Tucker Carlson went as far as blaming the whole power grid collapse on windmills (which account for a fraction of Texas’s energy).
“Seriously, could you imagine how insane you have to be to blame windmills and the Green New Deal for a power outage in Texas? That’s like blaming Boston clam chowder for the smell in New Jersey,” Meyers joked. “These guys really expect us to believe AOC snuck into the Houston oilfields in the middle of the night and replaced all the derricks with vegan food trucks?”
Texans get hit with $17,000 electricity bills, and Ted Cruz reverses his stance on energy regulation like it's a flight path to Cancun. pic.twitter.com/i7GRkBhzeP
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 23, 2021
While Cruz was busy “helping” those without food or utilities, Texans who did manage to keep the lights on during the freeze woke up to astronomical energy bills – some 180 times the normal rate, as much as $16,000 – thanks to uncapped energy rates tied to demand, explained Trevor Noah on the Daily Show.
Texas leaders, such as the former governor Rick Perry, have long touted this free-market system as the pride of Texas, but “now that Texans are being charged $20,000 to toast a bagel, Cruz has discovered that regulation might not be so bad”, Noah said. In response to outcry over the obscene electricity bills, Cruz tweeted that “state and local regulators should act swiftly to prevent this injustice”.
Cruz “reversed his stance on regulation like it was a flight path to Mexico”, joked Noah. “And let’s be honest, nobody forced these Texans to choose the world’s shadiest company for their electricity, but also, nobody really talked about the worst-case scenario when they talked about the wonders of an unregulated market.
“When conservatives talk about freedom from government, they only focus on the good things, but that’s not the whole picture,” he continued. “If you were running a zoo, and you told all the antelopes, ‘Congrats, guys, we’re giving you all the freedom to roam around the zoo,’ that’s good news! But it’s only fair to tell them that the lions are also going to be getting that freedom, because that shit is not as good for the antelopes as you make it sound.”
The Ted Cruz Cancún PR debacle “is only getting funnier”, said Jimmy Kimmel on Monday evening, as he displayed a photo from Cruz’s image rehab attempt: loading a 12-pack of water into a car in what appears to be an empty parking lot, patting a maskless woman on the shoulder.
“Like many of Ted Cruz’s attempts to mimic human behavior, this one was Ted on arrival,” Kimmel joked. “Only Ted Cruz would think he could repair his image by touching a maskless constituent two days after getting off an international flight.”
Kimmel also imagined the reunion between Cruz and his family on Saturday – “How was the vacation, you have fun? I was in a parking lot pretending to pass out Dasani bottles.”