The 10 Best Ted Cruz Lines in “Giant of the Senate”

Al Franken has been sitting on his best material for more than eight years. When Franken ran for the Senate in 2008, he realized his career as a comedian and star of Saturday Night Live might hurt his chances of being taken seriously, so he reigned in his barbed wit and usual modus operandi of nonstop quips. When he made it to the Senate in 2009 after a tough, mudslinging election (which he won by the thinnest of margins—312 votes out of more then three million cast), he felt an obligation to show the people of Minnesota he now represented that he was going “to be a workhorse and not a show horse.”

The result? A much more serious Al Franken, a man who went out of his way to respect Senate rules and traditions, a man who once delivered a handwritten apology to Mitch McConnell for a slight breach of the Senate’s rules of civility—and a man who has not been a joke machine when he has the microphone at hearings, press conferences, or on the floor of the Senate.

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Franken’s disappointed by this lack of hilarity or not, you should know that this era of Serious Franken seems to be coming to an end. Having won re-election by a comfortable 10-point margin in 2014, Franken seems to feel that he’s proved himself enough to relax a little. He’s being a little more funny in the regular business of the Senate—and he’s published Giant of the Senate, his new memoir that doubles as a hilarious takedown of modern politics.

In the book, Franken is still honoring the Senate’s traditions of mutual respect and cordiality, however, and his humor is mostly self-deprecating. With the one major and famous exception of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who Franken not only opening despises but mocks with an entire chapter devoted to underscoring—with hilarious burns—just how awful Cruz is. It’s unprecedented, and unexpected—and really, really funny. The entire book is worth reading, as Franken approaches politics with an outsider’s eye for detail and a comedian’s sense of the absurd, but the Cruz chapter (“Sophistry”) is the main attraction, and for good reason. Without even trying very hard, here are the ten best Ted Cruz lines in Giant of the Senate.

of 10

Fish in the Microwave

Al Franken
Al Franken. Rebecca D'Angelo

“The problem with Ted [is] he's the guy in your office who snitches to corporate about your March Madness poll and microwaves fish in the office kitchen. He is the Dwight Schrute of the Senate.”

Whatever your political beliefs, we are all united in hatred for the people who creep into the shared kitchens of this world and microwave last night’s leftover fish, making this officially the worst burn in the history of burns.

of 10

I Hate Ted Cruz

“You have to understand that I probably like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz.”

This is the pull-quote most people run with when discussing the book. It perfectly encapsulates the Franken-Cruz relationship, and it’s clever and surprising like most good comedy.

of 10

They Say She is a Floating Hell

“When most people think of a cruise that’s full of sh*t, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.”

This is part of a longer anecdote that illustrates how annoying and insufferable Cruz is even when interacting with him on casual, non-political matters. Seriously, read the book—this story is hilarious.

of 10

A Sociopath

“There are plenty of senators who are smarter than I am ... but I like them all. Because none of them are sociopaths.”

Franken goes to great lengths to underscore that he has become friends with many Republicans, that he respects other opinions and has worked very hard to partner with people with whom he has real disagreements. He does this partly to burnish his own reputation as a senator, of course, but also to bring home the point that it’s not him, it’s Ted Cruz.

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Intolerably Smug

“Like an actor performing a monologue in which he plays an intolerably smug, self-righteous high school debater in a blue blazer with brass buttons, but way, way overdoing it. Ted’s condescension hung in the air like the stench from a cat box in an apartment with forty cats belonging to an elderly woman who had just been found dead. It was bad, is what I’m saying.”

This quote perfectly demonstrates why we all seem to despise Ted Cruz on sight.

of 10

Joe McCarthy and Dracula

“It takes a special kind of jerk to get compared to Joe McCarthy just a month into your Senate career. Although it didn’t help Ted that he bears more than a passing resemblance to McCarthy himself (Franni thinks he’s the love child of McCarthy and Dracula.)”

“The love child of Joe McCarthy and Dracula” is almost as good as implying that Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.

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Blame Cruz for Trump

“Ted Cruz isn’t just wrong about almost everything. He’s impossible to work with. And he doesn’t care that he’s impossible to work with. And that’s why, even when the choice was between Ted Cruz (who was a sitting member of the United States Senate) and Donald Trump (who was Donald Trump), establishment Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to rally behind Cruz.”

Now that’s a burn, saying that you’re fundamentally the reason that Donald Trump got elected.

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An Obnoxious Wrench

“Even if you like what he stands for, the most he’ll ever be able to accomplish is being an obnoxious wrench in the gears of government.”

And this goes to the heart of why this matters, because the whole point of electing people to the Senate is to get things done. You may not like everything that gets done, but it’s important that the business of government gets accomplished.

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A Dishonest and Unpleasant Man

“[He was] just a dishonest and unpleasant man trying, and failing, to use pop culture to make a false argument.”

Here Franken slips a bit in his urbane, witty persona and simply insults Cruz and demonstrates a sort of weary disdain for the man. You really do get a sense that Cruz is a very smart guy who is his own worst enemy.

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Ted Cruz: The Sequel

“I could fill several chapters with Ted Cruz awfulness.”

This sounds an awful lot like sequel bait, and when Al Franken publishes The Ted Cruz Diaries we will all be there with popcorn.

United in Dislike

Politics is possibly at its most partisan right now, with much of the country swept up in an “Us vs. Them” mindset that is paralyzing our government. Al Franken may not represent your political beliefs, but he’s written a funny book that offers a peek behind the curtain into how the Senate works—or fails to work.