When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) entered the chamber Tuesday afternoon and said he would speak until he could no longer stand, few guessed that the Tea Party firebrand would still be on his feet the next morning. The supercharged talk-a-thon was designed as a one-man protest against funding the president's health care plan, known as Obamacare.
Sure enough, Washington (and everyone else watching on C-SPAN) awoke to the Texas freshman, still in jacket and powder-blue tie and looking remarkably composed for his ordeal. Cruz said at one point, "It occurred to me that perhaps one of the great philosophical conundrums with which we must all wrestle is whether Obamacare is more like [Friday the 13th's] Jason or [A Nightmare on Elm Street's] Freddy."
Cruz wrapped up his 21-hour speech early on Wednesday afternoon. For the most part, he stayed on topic. But like any excessively lengthy speech, it had its fair share of filler – including gems like professing his love for White Castle burgers, reciting an Ashton Kutcher award-acceptance speech (twice), and reading bedtime stories including the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham, to his two young daughters from the Senate floor.
But he didn't do all this alone. Cruz got through the last 21 hours with a little help from his friends. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a seasoned filibuster-veteran himself, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) were among those who made appearances throughout the speech to give Cruz a breather.
Here are some of the highlights of the Cruz-a-thon:
1. Reading Green Eggs and Ham Around 8 p.m. last night, Cruz told his daughters to tune into C-SPAN to hear him read them bedtime stories, including Dr. Seuss's well-loved Green Eggs and Ham – though apparently the girls aren't big fans. "I don't get to read it that often because I tell them, 'Go pick the books you want to read' and I read [those] to them,'" Cruz said Tuesday night. "But since tonight, girls, you aren't here, you don't get to pick the book, so I get to pick Green Eggs and Ham."
2. Comparing Congress to Pro Wrestling "It's a little bit like the World Wrestling Federation," said Cruz, comparing Congress to the pro wrestling group best known for Hulk Hogan, the Rock and many others – and now known as the WWE (for World Wrestling Entertainment). "It's wrestling matches where ... the outcome is pre-rigged, the outcome is predetermined. They know who's going to win and it's all for show."
3. Conjuring Up "Star Wars" Cruz compared Capitol Hill to the Empire, and said, "Just like in the Star Wars movies, the Empire will strike back....But at the end of the day, I think the Rebel Alliance, I think the people will prevail," Cruz said. He also wondered, "At some point [are we] going to see a tall gentleman in a mechanical breathing apparatus come forward and say in a deep voice, 'Mike Lee, I am your father.'"
4. Channeling Ashton Kutcher "Some time ago I tweeted a speech that Ashton Kutcher gave. It's a terrific speech. It was a speech at one of these award shows where he talked about the value of hard work. And one of the things I remember he said is, 'You know, in my life, opportunity looks an awful lot like hard work.' That was a great message. It was a great message to young people ... I don't know Mr. Kutcher. I've watched his TV shows and his movies. I don't know him personally. But you know what? He can speak to millions of young people who've never listened to you and would never listen to me."
5. Sharing Fashion Tips "Most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington. Almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts. Who cares?"
6. Professing His Favorite Fast Food "I'm a big fan of eating White Castle burgers. Think of all the people that don't get jobs because there's no White Castle open, not to mention all of the hungry college kids that at 3:00 in the morning are just craving a White Castle, and they can't find one."