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SNL uses its cold open to skewer Ted Cruz over his Big Bird vaccine tweet

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., departs from the Senate chamber following a vote on Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C.
Kent Nishimura
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., departs from the Senate chamber following a vote on Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C.

Saturday Night Live opened last night's show with a send-up of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who earlier this month said a tweet from a children's television character — in which Sesame Street's Big Bird discusses his COVID-19 vaccination — was "government propaganda."

In the skit, Cruz — played by Aidy Bryant — hosts a right-wing alternative to Sesame Street called "Cruz Street."

The senator is joined in the sketch by several guests — including Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, played by Cecily Strong, and podcast host Joe Rogan, played by Pete Davidson. The real-life Greene and Rogan have both pushed misinformation about the virus and vaccine.

Big Bird himself, played by Kyle Mooney, also makes an appearance, telling the senator that he has suffered embarrassing side-effects after his vaccination. Cruz recommends he bathe in Borax.

The real Sen. Cruz says that while "he supports the vaccine and has received it," he opposes mandates imposed by President Biden and says schools should not be involved in vaccinating kids against the virus.

Critical race theory — an academic paradigm that has been become shorthand in conservative politics to refer to how racial inequity is taught in schools — is featured too: Bryant, as Cruz, tells the audience that CRT stands for "Caucasian rights trampled."

This summer, Cruz said critical race theory is "as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets" and has introduced a messaging bill to block federal funding for critical race theory training in the workplace.

Cruz's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the sketch.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric McDaniel edits the NPR Politics Podcast. He joined the program ahead of its 2019 relaunch as a daily podcast.